Today, we will discuss the behavioral aspects of pulling and straining on a leash.
We will be using positive reinforcement training so bring some treats with you on your walk. When you begin the walk don’t get your dog overly excited especially when you know you are battling with leash pulling.
Be calm and head outside. Now your dog probably is already pulling. Be patient!!! If your dog knows basic obedience training use it if they don’t start your dog on a program of sit, down, stay and come. Now that you are outside do not move your feet if your dog is pulling. It is so important to never give in to the pull . Best thing to do is not move until they stop or change your direction in walking . If your dog responds to any of these changes reinforce that behavior . The purpose of this is to keep your dog on his toes. You’re the leader and your dog should follow you. Once again reward small improvements, don’t expect to see miracles in a day but if you expect and anticipate small changes to occur you will be excited with the results. The more confidence you begin to have it will translate to your dog . Also remember if you have a large breed dog make sure to also give them a lot of exercise!! If they go for runs or to a dog park and release energy you will notice your dog walks will start becoming more behavioral and your dog will be less hyper active . I love when I start walking dogs and in the middle of the walk ask them to come closer and do a little sit and down behavior. I reward all these behaviors and it builds a great bond with my clients and myself.
There is never just one way of fixing leash pulling problems but collectively if you get the best leash , train your dog in basic obedience, give them exercise, and be the leader walks will become such a positive fun part of your day with your dog .
Even though all breeds can pull on the leash, those owners with large breed dogs have the most complaints. This is for obvious reasons: dogs are larger , harder to handle, and can physically over power you.
When it comes to pulling on the leash there are actually multiple ways for fixing the problem. So even though it is great to have options, you must realize that might mean trail and error. Be patient. Since this is a lengthy topic, I will concentrate primarily on leashes today and on pulling tomorrow.
First get the proper leash. Many dog owners have choker collars which I do not recommend. Don’t use aversive conditioning!!! Positive reinforcement over punishment always. There are fabulous leashes on the market for all dog types. So find the one that best suits your dog.
Here our 3 choices in leashes that will be great for your dog !
Front clip harness: A leash I recommend often, this leash clips in the front on your dogs chest. The point of this and why it is so effective is when dog suddenly pulls it is pulled right around to face you. This is very annoying for the dog and you will see a change in the behavior quickly.
Sporn Harness: I see many owners with these. The way this leash works is when the dog is pulling on the harness it will tighten slightly in the front around the legs. The dog will feel like their feet are being lifted off the ground. So larger dogs or aggressive ( bully) breeds that can knock you off-balance, this leash could be good for you. This leash puts you in control.
Head collar: This leash is becoming very popular for dog owners. The leash fits around the snout or mouth of your dog. Even though many owners swear by this leash it is not intended for dogs that lunge or pull abruptly or dogs that have eye or neck issues. Injuries to eye and neck are more common.
Now pulling while walking is not just about changing your dogs leash. Be behavioral ! Tomorrows blog will explain more behavioral aspects of this common dog problem.
But remember always set your dog up for success and a great comfortable leash for both you can your dog is a great start.
Housebreaking!!!! Every carpets nightmare. Housebreaking is one of those behaviors you must have patience. First thing you need to do is start a routine. Dogs love routines and will wait and expect it. Dogs need walking first thing in the morning!!! Most likely if you walk them first thing in the morning they usually relieve themselves immediately. Say a tag line like ” go pee pee” before the need to go. This starts your dog on que words that will aid in housebreaking down the road. Then come inside feed your dog and then 30 minutes – 1 hour after walk them one more time . This is critical!!! People don’t realize how important this step is. Always set your dog up for success and I am telling you, your dog will need to go to the bathroom in the morning and after their morning feeding.
If you are in the house the rest of the day use the umbilical cord method. Keep your dog on a long leash attached to you, this way you’ll have fewer accidents. If you cannot supervise their behavior then crate or pen training necessary. Don’t give your dog your entire house off the bat. If they find a spot in your house to pee in and you don’t see it or catch it . Your digging yourself in a hole!!
Once your dog is consistent (no mistakes) give them more space and less supervision . Eventually your dog will be able to roam around everywhere and won’t have problems.
This involves patience!! Some dogs learn in two weeks with no problems and some dogs need months of training.
Separation anxiety is one of the most stressful experiences for dog owners, especially for people living in condos or apartments. Your dog barks (annoying neighbors) urinates (even if they just got walked) and they can eat or dig at everything. Today we will go over several ways to solve this problem .
Dogs know when you are leaving and that is what triggers the fear. Putting on shoes, getting your keys, turning off the television are all daily reminders you are leaving. This technique teaches you to eliminate those signs. When you are in your home pick up your keys but don’t leave. Sit down watch TV shaking your keys or do your daily chores with the keys . Reinforce your dog anytime he is not concerned you are leaving . The same works with your shoes or purse. Reducing the stress of leaving will make your dog much more calm and comfortable . This takes time and patience but worth it.
Make leaving time as positive as the time when you are home. Anytime you leave give your dog an amazing toy/ treat. Something they only get when you leave. A frozen kong toy with peanut butter is great, this is redirection . This allows your dog to focus on positive treats instead of the negative leaving.
If your dog barks at noise, people walking in the halls, or cars driving by set your dog up for success. Crate training is great if your dog is crate trained. Leaving the television on can also be comfortable if you watch a lot of television when you are home, it also can drown out outside noise and if your dog barks it drowns out that as well. Put your curtains down so outside observations don’t trigger barking.
All these solutions are positive reinforcement training. Apply all or just one to your specific dog needs.
If behavioral issues can’t be resolved even with an experienced animal trainer there are medical solutions as well. Calming sprays, calming jackets and calming medications.
I treat everything behaviorally before medically. So have patience with this problem and be dedicated.
Barking is such a frustrating behavior. For your specific problem you will need a lot patience and positive reinforcement. Find a day where you have nothing to do so you can work on this. Bring treats or reinforcement with you and place your dogs in the crate. Reinforce them in the crate for short time then let them out. Remember you are reinforcing quiet calm behavior only. Also don’t open the crate till they calm you don’t want them reinforced or struggle to get out. This is where the patience comes in . Small approximations are the next step. Repeat increasing your time slowly every time. You want to make the crate desirable and safe place. Never scold your dogs and then use the crate. The crate is only positive. Personally, I would also do a simple train like sits and stays (whatever you want) then reinforce your dogs for those combined behaviors in the crate. Over time the crate will be their go to place and the barking will subside and be eliminated.
Now at night, if they bark, find out if they are in your room or near your room if the barking goes away. If it does start your dogs in your room and everyday move their bed or crate further and further away till you both seem comfortable with situation.