I was in Wilton Manors last Monday installing a new Dog Guard Out of Sight Fencing® system for a client and his Dalmatian named Smokey. Like many Dalmatians, Smokey was a little crazy and energetic. He loved to dig under the fence in the side yard and chase the kids on their bikes down the street. Although the kids thought this was great fun, my client did not. We installed the system in just one day and had Smokey completely trained before dinner time. My client was very grateful and was sure that we had solved his problem. As I was packing up, he remembered that I was also a professional dog trainer. He said that he was having a lot of trouble walking Smokey and if I had any suggestions.
I first told my client that it was critical that he remembered to take the Dog Guard Perimeter collar off Smokey before they began a walk. If he left the color on him, he would take Smokey directly into the correction zone of the perimeter boundary.
Next, I explained that “walking” did not have to mean that Smokey was always directly by his side during the walk. The important thing to remember is that Smokey needs to continually feel that my client will always be keeping him safe while on the walk. That is not done by being exactly in a particular spot during the walk. It is a matter of trust, respect, and focus.
I went on to tell my client that he needed to start the walk in a calm manner where Smokey was obeying his commands and giving him focus even before they started the “real walk”. This meant that Smokey could not go crazy and disrespect him when he pulled out the leash and collar for the walk.
If this happened, I told him he needed to “reprogram” Smokey to be calm and collected when the leash and collar were put on. He could accomplish this by making the process a “non-event”. To do this, all he had to do was to put the leash and collar on at different times during the day and not go for a walk. He could put them on and then watch TV. He could go into his office and work on the computer. He could go into the kitchen and wash the dishes. As long as he put the leash and collar on Smokey and then ignored him without going for a walk, that was great.
Next, when Smokey no longer became adrenalized with the leash, he could pick it up and walk to the front door. He should stop for a moment; and then keep walking him around the house. This will have Smokey understand that going to the door did not necessarily mean “walkies”.
Finally, when Smokey is continually being calm and focusing on his actions, he can open the front door with Smokey on the leash. Now, he needs to let his dog know that he is the leader and “the leader always leads”.
He will step out the front door first while instructing Smokey to stay at the doorway in the house. Smokey will calmly observe his exit while remaining behind. Once he is completely outside, he can invite Smokey out. When Smokey obeys, it will enforce the concept that the leader always tells you what to do. Since Smokey followed his direction to come outside, it reinforces Smokey’s instinct that my client is his leader and caregiver.
Once outside, they can calmly start the walk. The most important things that I reminded my client about the walk were focus and safety. It was his job to always scan the neighborhood for anything that may frighten or adrenalize Smokey. He needed to proactively understand what he would have to do to keep Smokey safe if any inappropriate situation came up.
Next, I said that an appropriate bond during their “walking experience” was based on Smokey’s respectful and calm focus on him. This did not mean that Smokey always walked directly next to him. It did mean that Smokey stayed at a distance that never allowed the leash to become tight. This means that Smokey is still walking with him without the need for passive or active redirection.
He should also “remind” Smokey “who is walking who” by making sure that they are walking at his pace. He should also change directions from time to time to make sure Smokey turns and is always with him. He should also stop from time to time to allow Smokey to “take a break and smell the roses”. He should give the leash a gentle tug from time to time just to have Smokey look to him for reinforced focus.
I further explained that walking in this manner, although not the way you would walk your dog in a dog show, is far more relaxing for both the owner and the dog. Making this a relaxed, yet respectful activity builds a stronger bond and sense of protection between Smokey and his owner. The relationship that this activity helps establish will help resolve many other possible behavioral issues that Smokey may display.
Just as we establish bonds when engaging in group sports activities, we establish a bond and positive relationship when engaging in physical activities with our dog. Walking is a clear example of such an activity. Robin and I would love to respond to any invisible dog fence or dog training question you may have. Please go to Dog Fence Training Help Wilton Manors South Florida. The direct office line is (954) 472-4724. Discover great things about Dog Guard Out of Sight Fencing® and how it can make your life easier by visiting Best Out of Sight Dog Fence Trainers Wilton Manors South Florida. Robin and I have really loved being your neighborhood canine professionals for over twelve years in Wilton Manors and the entire South Florida area. If you are having behavioral or obedience problems with your dog, we can help with that too. We have all the information about our canine behavior and obedience programs at Home Dog Training Wilton Manors South Florida.