Who’s Walking Whom?

Did you ever think that you might be the reason your dog pulls you on walks? Ask yourself this question. Are you consistently being inconsistent? Here’s a classic scenario: you are out taking your dog for a walk around the neighborhood. Now your dog sees the friendly neighbor and his dog. You then allow your dog to pull you, to greet the friendly neighbor and his dog. Yup, unbeknownst to you, what you have just done here is positively reinforced your dog for pulling. The gigantic reward was getting to meet the friendly neighbor and his dog.

Now you continue your walk to the next block. Then you see a very deceased squirrel in the ditch (poor squirrel). Your dog is pulling and rearing like a bronco buck. All he wants to do is get to that putrid bug-infested roadkill. To exacerbate the issue, you are yanking on the leash to keep your dog from pulling towards the squished squirrel. Dogs have a thing called an Opposition Reflex which means if you pull the dog, they’ll pull back in the opposite direction. So now you are giving your dog even more reason to pull! Why is it okay to pull in the instance of the neighbor and his dog, but not for the expired squirrel? You are actually being consistently inconsistent.

Loose leash walking is exactly what it sounds like. You have a nice loose leash between you and your dog.  Not enough practice with too many distractions is where the problems start. You have to start at the shallow end of the pool, then work toward the deep end. Start your training by having the dog on a leash follow you around the house. Every couple of steps give your dog a treat for following you. Make kissy noises or slap the side of your leg to encourage the dog to follow you. You need a high rate of reinforcement in the beginning.  Gradually ask more from your dog as he is getting it. Slowly add more steps with less treats. When your dog is following you from one end of the house and back for only one treat it is time to take it outside but only in the backyard or someplace not too distracting. Up the ante on the value of treats (real meat not a dry biscuit) as you add more distractions. Set yourself up to succeed. Be  consistent.

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New Classes Starting:

Focus with Distractions    12/18 Mon. 7:00 p.m.

Puppy I Manners                 12/16 Sat. 12:30 p.m.

Teenrover/Adult-Manners   12/18 Mon. 6:00 p.m.

Novice Trick Dog (NTD)             1/13 Sat. 10:00 a.m  

AKC Canine Good Citizen   1/14 Sun. 1:00 p.m.       

 

Check the calendar for more scheduled classes!