August 5, 2009

Loose-Leash Walking

It is really easy to get your dog to walk on a loose leash and nows the best time to start! I love this time of year when it is still light when I get home and I can get a couple dogs out for a walk and enjoy relaxing hikes on the weekends.
Walking with your dog is not only good for your dog's health but it's good for you too! A nice morning or evening stroll is a great way to bond with your dog, get your exercise and allow your dog to follow some fabulous scent trails along the way.
Start by taking your dog outside. As soon as he begins to pull...stop and plant your feet in the ground. Wait for the dog to look back at you as if to recognize that you are still there (don't say his name or encourage him in anyway...just wait for him to remember that you are still there), then say "let's go" and turn in the opposite direction. When the dog begins to follow you and is close by your your clicker and give a tasty treat. Your dog will no doubt begin to walk a head of you and begin to pull again. Repeat the above steps over and over again. The dog will soon realize that nothing good happens when the leash is tight and pulling on his neck, but great things like praise and treats happen when the dog is close by your side. It may take you a 1/2 hour or longer to be able to walk down your driveway because you will be stopping and turning, but this repetition will pay off. Once your dog is walking on a loose leash down the driveway start on the road...but don't expect miracles because now you are adding new smells and more distractions, so give yourself a short distance to work in and repeat the above. Slowly increase the distance you walk until you are walking your normal route without the dog pulling on the leash. I highly recommend using a Harness harness on the dog in the beginning especially for small dogs and Brachycephalic breeds. I do not promote the use of choke chains or prong collars. Both of these types of collars can cause damage to the dog's throat & trachea as well as evoke aggressive and/or fearful behaviors in your dog. I am also not a big fan of head halties or gentle leaders. I don't think these give the dog the ability to explore it's environment during the walk and let's be honest the walk is supposed to be as enjoyable for the dog as it is for you, right? How would you like a contraption around your face constantly pulling you to one side. Its also not good for dogs who are reactive towards other dogs or those that are timid as it doesn't allow the dog to perform it's normal body language, but instead forces the dog to look away from what might be frightening it creating more fear and anxiety. Enjoy your walk!!!

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Dog Training Philosophy

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I train dogs using positive reinforcement training to modify unwanted behaviors.  I step outside the traditional training box and use therapeutic-grade essential oils to assist in my behavior modification regime when it comes to dogs plagued with fear and anxiety as well as aggression.  My philosophy is to heal the dog's mind, body and spirit, not just to rid the dog of unacceptable behaviors.  I specialize in shelter dog rehab, reactive rover, and fearful fidos.