Not sure what to do with your new pup? Once you are able to resist the cuteness of your new family member, it is time to start training. Dogs can be trained from an early age, so begin teaching your puppy about your expectations and the world around them as soon as he or she arrives in your home. The sooner you begin teaching them good manners and social skills, the easier it will be for you when they hit the difficult period of adolescence.
Think about a recent situation, which involved you seeing another owner walking towards you and your dog. What was your reaction? Did you hold your breath for a moment? Maybe you tightened your grip on the lead? Probably, you even pulled the lead a bit or started talking to your dog. Chances are, you did all three and something else, if you were walking a dog that is reactive on lead. The behaviours are not themselves a problem. The issues arise, when your dog learns to associate them with other dogs approaching him. After that you are trapped in a vicious cycle:
In addition to your behaviour and body language, there are other possible triggers for your dog. A common trigger is a certain type of dogs. For example, your dog has been attacked by a large white dog and will display aggression towards similar looking dogs. Another possible trigger is a certain place. For example, your dog may only react to other dogs on a narrow pathway or on a certain street corner.
Lead aggression is directly related to the dog’s perception of other dogs. Whether it is a learned bad habit or a result of a traumatic experience, aggressive or overly excited behaviour is a reaction to the presence of other dogs. Hence, you will have to change your dog’s associations with other dogs and to teach him an alternative behaviour.
Do you find yourself hiding from other dogs during walks? Keep reading then. One of the most common complaints among dog owners is related to the so-called “lead aggression”. If your dog is lead-aggressive or lead-reactive, your walks can become a nightmare and a source of constant embarrassment. The most frustrating thing for me is to see this on the streets, while I know, that it can be easily corrected. When I say “easily”, I don’t mean “overnight” or “by a wave of a magic wand” kind of “easily”. What I mean is that this issue is curable with some simple adjustments, re-conditioning and commitment.
As the excitement of bringing home a new puppy wears off, many owners face an annoying task of cleaning up the accidents and housetraining. The sooner you start teaching your dog appropriate toilet behaviour the better. If you are lucky to have a garden or at least to live on the ground floor, you task is much easier. But don’t worry; living in a flat shouldn’t be a problem.
Most owners will face the task of housebreaking only once in their dogs lifetime. However, sometimes stress, moving to a new house or illness can cause problems in adult dogs as well. This post will cover the main principles of housetraining, which apply to both puppies and adult dogs.
I’ll be honest: dog training is not that complicated. There is a limited number of tools that every dog owner can learn. The only difference between an experienced dog trainer and an owner is that the trainer is used to spotting opportunities and creative ways of applying the tools. Alright, we, dog trainers, also have experience and theoretical knowledge that allows us to apply our tools to different cases. However, I am convinced that any person can learn to apply the basic tools to their own dog. That is why I would like to share with you the three most important principles of dog training, on which the major part of dog training is based.
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!