Milo's Dog Training

Dog training in Hampshire, Surrey & Berkshire


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How to Improve Your Dog’s Leash Walking Skills

I have already touched upon some common mistakes in leash handling and on some techniques that can help overcome leash pulling. Today I would like to share a more proactive technique that will teach your dog to walk on a leash nicely. You will need a clicker, some nice treats and a leash. Before you can work with loose leash walking, your will have to know “touch” (and to be able to follow your hand) and “look at me”.

1. Have your dog on a lead by your right side. Hold a clicker and a leash in your  left hand, opposite to where the dog will walk. You will need your right hand to dispense treats.

2. Start walking. When your dog pulls, stop.

3. Do your attention-getting sound (I use “kissy” sound) to get the dog’s attention.

4. When he looks at you, guide him with your right hand back to your side. You may find that taking a step back with your right foot at the same time helps the dog understand the required position.

5. Once the dog is in the required position, click and treat.

You may not be able to take a single step at first as the dog will instantly start pulling again. Just give it time: after a few sessions. you will notice that you are able to walk a few steps. Sometimes it helps to teach a dog to follow your hand for a couple of steps and reinforce it. After a while you will gradually remove your hand.

Important: don’t bribe and lure your dog into the position by holding treats in your right hand. Have the treats hidden in your pocket until it is time for a reward. Also, be aware of your dogs limitations. Some things are just really difficult and require an enormous effort to teach. For example, Milo is a hound. I don’t think that I will ever have enough patience and desire to teach him not to pull, when he smelled a strong track. After all, that is exactly what he has been bred for: to smell and follow it with an annoying howl (just like he does on this picture taken a few weeks ago in Minley Wood near Ancells Farm in Fleet).

Teaching a dog not to pull can be one of the most boring and annoying things you’ve ever done, but it is worth it. Just think about being able to relax during a walk!


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Love, Trust and Dogs

Trainer Trisha’s post made me think about the things I have learnt about dog training. I was lucky to begin my journey into dog training, when the harsh and often cruel methods were no longer taught. I wanted to write “no longer used”, but it is not true. Choke collars are still being sold, and I still hear about people giving advice based on the old-fashioned ideas of hierarchy and “what wolves do”. I often face the challenge of persuading the owners that their relationship with their dogs should not involve concepts like “domination” and “punishment”. Relationship with a dog is about leadership and guidance, not dictatorship and competition for the “alpha-male” status. Would you really compete with a creature that is, let’s be honest, intellectually inferior to you? Our dogs look up to us. They want to please us and make us happy, because it makes them happy.

The most important thing that I have learnt is that dogs don’t misbehave, because they want to be mean. They misbehave, because we taught them so.

I have mentioned that Milo’s behavioural problems are to the most part a result of these old-school methods such as choke collars and severe punishment. I didn’t know then, but when I look back at what was going on, I feel terribly sorry for him. He lost his trust in people almost completely and it took us a long time to earn it back. Although he still has some bad habits learnt back then, Milo is the most affectionate and loving dog. Every time he shows his trust and confidence in us, I am sincerely flattered and amazed. I am greatly touched, when he lets us clean his ears, when he asks for help and when he is worried, if he lost sight of us during walks. I think: “Wow, how did I manage to earn it?”.

After all, this feeling of being needed, trusted and loved is the very reason why we want a dog companion, isn’t?


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On the importance of setting boundaries

Dogs are extremely conservative. They prefer to stick to their set routine: to take a walk at a certain time, to perform the same dance before each dinner, to sleep in certain places of the house every day… On one hand, dogs are resilient and adaptive, and, probably, this is why they have been our companions for thousands of years. However, they are not as flexible as people. Dogs adapt to change, but they seek stability and consistent routine. Lack of consistency is exactly what caused the majority of behavioural issues. If a dog doesn’t know what to expect and what is expected, because the rules are changing from day to day, he feels insecure. If people fail to set boundaries and consistent rules for the family, the dog will take on this responsibility. The trouble comes from the fact that the dog’s idea of proper rules and boundaries is not what people would consider suitable. Hence, growling, snapping, guarding, battles for sofas and armchairs, terrorized children and pulled backs and shoulders resulting from being dragged on a leash.

The solution comes from the same source as the issue. Continue reading