Start Your Dog Walk Calm and Collected
Last week I was installing a Dog Guard Out of Sight Fencing® system in Cooper City for a new client and his very frisky Golden Retriever named Bear. Bear was known by everyone on the block as the dog that always got out of the back yard and came to play with the kids. Although this didn’t bother the neighbors, my client was not amused. We quickly installed the system and had a great training session with Bear and my client. Bear quickly became aware that it was better to stay home than wander. My client was very happy with the results and was looking forward to all the extra time he would have not having to look for Bear. As I was packing up, he had a great question for me. He told me that it was always a pain to take Bear for a walk. From the moment he got the leash, Bear would jump and bark. As soon as he got the leash on Bear, he would pull towards the door, muscle himself out the door first, and be crazy outside. He knew Bear was full of energy and wondered if there was any hope to have a nice and calm walk with his Golden Retriever.
To cut to the chase very quickly, I told my client that, of course there was clear hope in having a nice and calm walk with Bear. His problem lay in the fact that he had allowed Bear to take charge of the activity even before it started. The only time that Bear saw the leash come out of the front hall closet was when they were going to have a walk. This adrenalized Bear. As his excitement grew with my client’s attempt to click the leash on, Bear ran around the house playing “catch me if you can”. My client willfully obeyed. Once the leash was on Bear, he took charge of going to the door and set the pace as soon as the door was open.
In giving into this scenario, my client didn’t have a chance of regaining control. The rest of the walk from the front door, around the block, and back home; was always a scene of pull, bark, and sniff on Bear’s part. My client had unknowingly told Bear he was “the driver” as the trip began and Bear was not going to get out of the driver’s seat.
I told my client that the good news was he could easily reverse this activity and have a great walking experience in very little time. What he had to do was the following:
- My client first had to disassociate the linear conditioning of “leash means walk”. He had to take the leash out of the closet at different times during the day and simply snap it on the dog. As Bear adrenalizes with the anticipation of a walk, I told my client to simply walk away and do something else.
- Every time my client snaps the leash on Bear, pick something totally different to do. He can watch TV, make a snack, work on the computer, or call someone on the phone. Just as long as there is no clear linear path from “Leash means …”, he will be fine.
- Bear will quickly understand that the leash means nothing and respond to it as “white noise”.
- I told my client that he needs to repeat this until Bear could care less about having the leash clicked on him.
- Now, I want to have my client have the leash and walk Bear around the house with the leash. Do this for several minutes and then approach the front door. If Bear becomes too adrenalized, he needs to correct him and regain his calm focus.
- If my client can’t regain the focus, walk away from the door, drop the leash, and do something else.
- Once my client can calmly walk Bear to the front door with the leash, he will put Bear in a Sit/Stay and slowly open the door. If Bear leaves his Sit/Stay, my client should repeat until Bear will calmly remain sitting and immobile with the door open.
- If my client can’t accomplish this, I told him to practice that exercise with the door closed. When Bear is obeying with the door closed, slowly open the door.
- Now, I wanted my client to look outside to make sure that there are no “crazy distractions” present. These could be kids on bicycles, the trash truck, gardeners with leaf blowers in the front yard, etc.
- Once “the coast is clear”, he should step out and then invite Bear out with him.
- Once outside, he should put Bear in a Sit/Stay and make sure Bear is focusing on him and not anything going on around them.
- If Bear begins to act up, they are to go back inside, wait for five minutes, and repeat the previous steps.
- Once he and Bear are outside, Bear is calmly sitting and giving him focus, and he has checked to make sure that there is “nothing crazy going on around them”, they can start their walk.
- As they start their walk, he should make sure that Bear is approximately by his side. If he sees Bear starting to lose focus on him and “locking on to something else”, he needs to stop and correct.
- I strongly suggest the use of a Martingale Collar or Easy Walk Harness as a great and somewhat passive training aid.
I reinforced with my client that the fastest way to get a great walk is accomplished by never letting Bear’s adrenaline to spike at the start. I explained that success was not based on speed of execution, but quality of delivery.
In the same way that is much easier not to have a shouting match than end one, the same is true when you want to have a calm and happy walk with your dog. If it isn’t started, you don’t have to stop it. Robin and I are waiting to respond to any issues you may have about home dog training or out of sight dog fences. Please visit Dog Fence Training Help Cooper City South Florida or dial (954) 472-4724. We offer more insightful Dog Guard Out of Sight Fencing® and dog training tips at Best Out of Sight Dog Fence Trainers Cooper City South Florida. We have been your neighborhood pet professionals for over eleven years in Cooper City and all over South Florida. Is your dog just bugging you? We are also your best dog training solution. Learn more about out Obedience and Behavior Dog Training System by going to Home Dog Training Cooper City South Florida.