Are you completely frustrated with your dog's behavior on a leash?
Are you tired of them pulling, weaving back and forth in front of you, lunging, stopping without warning, not listening to any command, and making you look like a fool who has no control over their dog?
I was too!!!!!
Then I figured out why.
April is here, which means spring is here and we want to get out into the fresh air and enjoy nature with our dogs. BUT, if you have a dog that doesn't listen on a leash: the thought of getting out for a walk can be gut-wrenching.
That is why I would like to take this month to help you understand how to start walking your dog the right way.
YES, there is a right way!
Today will be your first lesson in getting your dog to listen on their walk.
The first thing we usually do is ask our dogs if they "Wanna go for a walk?"
This is a cue or trigger for them to get excited. We have already jinxed the walk from the get-go.
It is ok to say this, BUT before we go any further, we need to get them settled back down.
Only when they are settled do we attempt to put the leash on them.
If the excitement heightens again...we wait for them to settle again.
This is where your walk starts. As soon as you have asked if they want to go. Now it is your job to get them prepared to leave the house by keeping their excitement level down.
By doing this you are "explaining" to them that you will go for a walk but only when they are calm and relaxed. You are establishing your leadership role by taking control of the current situation.
I will tell you right now this is not going to work the 1st time.
You may spend 10 minutes just waiting for them to settle down to get the leash on.
KEEP doing it!! It is a little harder to explain to your dog what is going on when you speak two different languages. Give him time to absorb the changes you are making.
I always suggest saying something like, "Ok, you have to settle".
I have heard many trainers say that using sentences will confuse your dog. I disagree.
When you speak it changes your thoughts, which changes your emotions, which changes your facial expressions and body posture, which changes how you present yourself to your dog.
THIS IS IMPORTANT.
Why? Because the first way your dog learns from you is not by speaking but by observing your body language.
If I just say "Settle", there really isn't any emotion connected to it, but if I say "Ok, you have to settle", it connects an intention and an emotion to it which puts you in a calmer state.
Your goal with a walk is to keep your dog in a neutral state so that they can listen better.
Remember, high energy = lowered attention.
I hope that this helps and that you can practice using this technique this week.
Next week I will let you know how to get out of the house, LOL.
Hello, my friends!
Let's get back to this month's topic: Walking your dog...the right way!
Last week we talked about preparing your dog for a walk by keeping them calm and relaxed.
This week, let's look at actually getting your dog out of the house for the walk.
We want to continue to keep the words, "calm" and "relaxed" in our minds because this is going to transfer the entire way through the walk.
So, once you have your dog leashed and sitting nicely waiting for your next command, we are going to calmly walk toward the door stopping about 2 feet short.
This is the point where your dog gets excited again. Have them sit and "wait".
This is going to prepare them to wait for you to leave FIRST.
You should always be the one making decisions, not your dog because he stinks at it (this is why he is misbehaving in the first place :).
Again, we wait for calmness.
Reach for the door....did he move? If so, back to sitting and waiting.
Try again and keep repeating the process until he stays while you are reaching for the door.
Next, open the door.......if he moved, go back to the sit and wait and repeat until he stays in the wait position.
Are you seeing a pattern yet??
We need to break things down for our dogs and correct them when needed to help them understand what we want from them.
Once you have the door open and your dog is patiently waiting for your next command you may say "ok" and leave the house.
Add this to last week's practice and you are halfway to the best walk yet!!!!
Always remember to STAY CALM when working with your dog. They are trying to understand the changes you are implementing.
It takes time and patience to change a relationship and that is what you are doing.
Let me know how it is going!!!!
See you next week when we actually start walking!!!
It's time to move forward with "walking your dog...the right way".
Let's take a moment to review the last two weeks' practice:
Week 1 - We talked about how to get your dog to settle before leaving the house to help them calm down for a more successful walk.
Week 2 - We talked about how to maintain the level of calmness as we approach the door to leave the house.
This brings us to Week 3 - The actual walk!!
Up to this point, our focus has been on getting our dogs to settle down if/when they get excited in order to prepare them for leaving the house.
Once outside the house, we want to continue this practice.
As soon as you step outside, you are going to tell your dog, "wait". This gives them the chance to settle down once again.
Now, we are going to talk about what I call a "structured walk".
When we walk our dogs, we want to let them know that we are here to protect them and to make sure they are safe. (Remember this is why your dog is acting out in the first place because they feel you have fallen short in this area.)
So, here is how a structured walk plays out:
1) Let your dog go potty 1st.
Give them a command such as "go potty" or "potties". This is your trigger word for them that they can potty or sniff around. When you say this word, lead them to the grass.
2) Start walking
After a minute (whether they pottied or not), give them another trigger such as "Ok, let's walk". Once you start walking, that is what you are doing, walking..not sniffing, not pulling, not meandering from side to side.
If your dog starts pulling, tell them "get back" or "heel" or whatever you want to say. After you say your phrase, step one foot in front of them and hold them there. Once they look at you (this may take some time), I usually say "are you done?" (meaning, are you done pulling?) and then "ok, let's walk". If they start to pull again, repeat the process.
You will most likely be doing this A LOT at the beginning of the walk. This is where you begin establishing your leadership or showing your dog that you are capable of making decisions.
3) Potty break
Give your dog their potty command and lead them toward the grass. This is the ONLY time your dog should not be by your side. I try to potty break at least once a block to begin with. Try stopping at a tree or a bush or a signpost. After a minute, give them their walk command.
Repeat this process throughout the walk and you will begin seeing a change in your walks and how your dogs respond to you.
If at any time your dog is just consistently pulling, step in front of them facing them, and physically start moving them back away from you with your body while saying "get back!" By doing this you break their fixation on walking and move them in the opposite direction forcing them to look at you.
Head up, shoulders back, stay calm, and B-R-E-A-T-H.
I will catch up with you next week!!!
We made it!......back to the house.
This is our final week on our topic for the month, "Walking your dog...the right way."
We left off last week practicing our structured walk and have now come full circle back to the house.
The walk is not over yet!
Once back at the house, you want to continue your leadership roll by having your dog sit and wait before entering.
I know by this point they may be behaving just fine, but that doesn't mean we start slacking on our duties.
Before entering the house, you want to ask your dog to sit. You may also, say "wait" so that they know not to just get back up.
By having them do this, you are taking control over entering the house and making sure the environment is safe for them to proceed.
You are also teaching them to respect your space by waiting for you to enter first.
Once inside the house, we want to ask them to sit again so that we may take the leash off.
I hope that this past month has been an eye opener for you as you began to take back control over your walks.
Let me hear some success stories!!
If at any time you would like to revisit this information, it will be posted on my website at seespotpetsitters.com under the "Blog" tab.