Calm Leash Training For Fido

Lease Training Your Dog Through Your Cues

Leash training can go smoothly or chaotically, depending on the approach you take, the owner. Your dog needs you to speak his language when you’re training him, so that he can learn to speak yours! Check out these useful tips for an effective start with leash training.

Good lookin’

When dogs come to class for the first time, they are understandably distracted – just as your dog is when he gets to go out with you in the big wide world. Lots of very exciting stuff happening! It’s ineffective to beg and plead for your dog’s attention. Instead, I tell my students to sit in a chair and wait. The instant their dog looks at them or even glances in their general direction, they should click their clickers and feed their dogs a treat.

Practice getting your dog’s attention in distracting places, too. Sit quietly, watching your dog and waiting. The moment he looks in your direction, click and give him a treat.

You’re reinforcing his offered attention, teaching your dog that if he chooses to look at you he can make you click and give him a treat. Over time, “shape” this behavior (reward successively more precise behavior) for longer eye contact, and then for making eye contact with you when you’re both walking. If he’s making eye contact with you when you pass someone on the sidewalk, he can’t be looking at them!

Name game

If your dog’s not offering attention, you can always ask for it – if you’ve taught him that his name means “Look at me for something wonderful!” Say his name, then feed him a tasty treat. Repeat this game regularly, until your dog instantly swivels his head toward you at the sound of his name. Then practice with increasing levels of distraction. Now you can get his attention, if he doesn’t offer it.

Zen attention

Getting your dog’s attention is one thing; keeping it is sometimes an entirely different matter. This exercise makes it clear to your dog that eye contact with you, not just looking at the treat, is what gets reinforced. The game also allows you to “shape” for duration. With your dog sitting in front of you, hold a treat out at arms’ length to the side. He will likely watch the treat. Just wait. Here’s the Zen part. In order to get the treat he has to look away from it – back at you. The instant he looks at you (as if to say, “Hey Mom, what’s the deal here?”) you click and feed him the treat. Then do it again. Most dogs figure this out amazingly quickly. When he comprehends that looking at you – not the treat – gets the treat, you can add your “Watch me” cue, and start shaping for longer duration of eye contact.
– via

Anxiety-Proof Your Walks

Got an excitable dog? If your walks can sometimes turn into a tug-of-war with your pup, listen up. You can cure the anxiety and excitability your dog expresses on walks with your intentionally planned and calmly executed communication with your dog. Here’s how!

What did we do?

For dogs who are too anxious to even eat treats we often rely on getting them to walk in a specific manner. That is, we don’t just let them pull in any direction because that just reward their pulling and keep them in a high arousal state. Plus, I’m sure you can remember a number of dogs who’ve been allowed to pull on walks. If they are in good shape they don’t calm down until they are really tired, which may take several miles!

To use the walk to train a dog to be calm, we walk on loose leash at a speed of about 135 beats per minute (bpm), but as soon as the dog is about to get his front feet ahead of yours, you stop before they have a chance to get out of control. Once stopped, if they will readily sit, have them sit for a second or two. If not, just wait until they are stationary for a second or two and then immediately walk ahead, again at 135 bpm as their reward. An alternative to stopping is to perform an about-turn with proper T-turn footwork so you provide the clearest direction. Or you can pre-emptively do a U-turn before they have a chance to start passing you.
– via Dr. Sophia Yin

How does your dog behave on walks? Could you benefit from teaching him better walk behavior?

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