I was in Wellington over the weekend installing a Dog Guard Out of Sight Fencing® System for a new client and his precocious German Shepherd named Oliver. Oliver loved to “guard the front yard” from squirrels, birds, and lizards. He also had an issue of running down the street to chase the mailman and neighbors’ cars. After we installed the invisible perimeter dog fence and provided him with some training, he decided that staying on the front lawn was more than fine with him. As I was packing up, my client approached and had a dog training question for me. He knew that I have trained over 3,500 dogs in addition to installing Dog Guard Out of Sight Fencing® Systems. He loved the fact that Oliver was now safely confined to the front yard. That was a major issue “off his plate”. It seemed that he was now concerned about Oliver’s walks with him around the neighborhood. He wondered if I could give some quick suggestions.
Wellington is an area of great neighborhoods and many venues that offer great walking experiences with your dog. What we need to remember is that when we walk our dog, we are the ones in charge of the activity. It is our responsibility to assure that our dog maintains a safe, happy, and healthy experience during the walk. We need to build and preserve his confidence that we will always step up to take responsibility for whatever is happening.
I always try to keep things simple, so I gave my client some quick and “hopefully” obvious suggestions that he should consider when on a walk with Oliver.
- DON’T FORCE PEOPLE ON YOUR DOG. When my client and Oliver are out on a walk, there will probably be times when people approach and want to pet his beautiful German Shepherd. When this occurs, I told my client never to let the person approach Oliver. In Oliver’s eyes, this can be construed as an aggressive act. Since he is on a leash and he only has the “fight” portion of his “fight or flight” option available, he could growl, lunge, or even nip at the neighbor.
I suggested that if someone wants to pet Oliver, have them stop about ten feet away. Put Oliver in a sit and allow him to observe the person. Then, encourage Oliver to approach the person. If Oliver walks over to the person, that is fine. If Oliver pulls back on the leash, do not force him. He is telling my client that he doesn’t feel ready. Once he is next to neighbor, the neighbor should let Oliver sniff him.
The neighbor should not actively pet him yet. After a minute of sniffing, the neighbor can than slowly hold his hand down for another sniff and then begin to pet Oliver on his neck below the front of his head. He should never raise his hand up and move it over Oliver’s head. Oliver might think that this is the beginning of a “hit” and could respond with a snap.
- WALK ON A SHORT LEASH. I told my client that when he and Oliver are walking, keep Oliver within a few feet of him. This allows Oliver to keep him in his peripheral vision so that he knows that my client is walking him. Not the other way around. If he needs to redirect Oliver back to him, having Oliver already close makes the process faster and easier. If he wants to allow Oliver some “roam time”, I told him to stop the walk, have Oliver sit, and then release him with a command such as “Free”, “Happy”, “Go Sniff”, etc.
- ALWAYS BE OBSERVANT. It is my client’s responsibility to make sure that everything is always safe for him and his German Shepherd on their walk. He needs to constantly be scanning the immediate area for any potential problems. He needs to check for the squirrels in the trees ahead, kids on their bikes, dogs, etc. Once he makes note of them, he needs to make a plan for each issue in order to keep their walk safe. Even though “the things ahead” may eventually not cause a problem, he needs to prepare.
- KNOW YOUR ROUTE. It is best if my client and Oliver stick to the same route on their regular neighborhood walks. This assures that Oliver will become comfortable with the sights and smells and will already have “left his liquid calling card” on all the right places. My client will also become familiar with the places where Oliver could have a problem. He will remember where the barking dog behind the big fence lives and where the squirrels always like to taunt Oliver. He can make proactive adjustments to assure that the walk is always great.
- SOCIALIZE YOUR DOG. I told my client that I believed Oliver was a great dog and shouldn’t have a problem with people. Being a German Shepherd, he still could be a little menacing to some people. I suggested that he practice having Oliver meet neighbors in their front yard. The front yard is a “safer area” for Oliver and he will feel more comfortable in socializing with people there. I told him to still keep Oliver on a leash and to follow the same procedure that I laid out earlier in our discussion.
Placing ourselves in the leadership role when we are out in public with our dog is critical to having them understand that we will keep them safe. This comes hand in hand with our teaching techniques of keeping them safely on our property. Please call us with any dog training or invisible dog fence questions. Just click on Dog Fence Training Help. There are a lot more training articles and underground dog fence information at Best Out of Sight Fence Trainers Wellington South Florida. We have successfully trained over 3,500 dogs in Wellington and all over South Florida. Successfully providing a Dog Guard Out of Sight Fencing® System requires both a professional installation process and expert training methodology. Our Certified Dog Training is a crucial part of the Dog Fence System. To understand about our dog training procedures, click on Home Dog Training Wellington South Florida.