Sunday, May 21, 2017

Puppy - walking on leash

By:  Dr. Sophia Yin

What method should you use to train?

My general rule of thumb is that we should use methods that focus on rewarding the correct behavior, starting with steps the dog can easily perform and quickly moving on to steps that are closer and closer to our goal behavior; rather than methods that rely on sheer luck that the type of dog you selected can endure it mentally unscathed. And if we choose methods that are as crude as dental care in the 16th century, we should realize that some dogs learn no matter what we do to mess them up.
Now, in the case of Bowser, the balking Schnauzer, who has learned to be afraid of the tug: let’s go back to the beginning and take 5-10 minutes to retrain the walking, step by step. First note, that unlike the methods I used many decades ago, the methods of today do not rely on corrective devices such as choke chains. Instead, they rely on combining rewards for desired behavior and removal of rewards for unwanted behavior.

Stage 1

Step 1: Practice off leash in a puppy-safe, potty safe area and reward little Bowser for sitting. Give one treat for sitting and additional treats for remaining seated. Once you have her undivided attention, then you run the other way to incite a chase. And stop after 5-7 steps, before she catches up. When she gets to you, she sits and gets a reward. Now she has the idea that it’s fun to follow you. (To see this in action watch this video from Creating the Perfect Puppy: How to Start Your Puppy Off Right and Stay on Track).

Step 2: Next, repeat the same process with a lightweight leash attached to her flat collar so she gets used to the feel of the leash. Of course, make sure that she can’t get it snagged on anything or you’ll be adding an extra day or two to your training!

Step 3: After you’ve practiced that a couple of times you’re ready to hold the leash. In fact, you can often skip that leash dragging stage. Little Bowser’s already used to following you when you sprint or head the other way. So, you can walk but with quick little steps so it looks like you are sprinting to get her to follow after you. Make sure that you keep the leash in a loose arc the entire time.

Step 3 alternative: Alternatively you can go for variation two. Walk to the end of the leash, but without letting the leash tighten. We want to avoid any pressure at first since pressure might scare her. When you get to the end, remain with your body facing forward while looking back at your puppy or face your body slightly sideways so you can see her more easily.  Then lure her to you with a treat. Do this 3-6 times in a row or more until you can rapidly walk away and when you stop and lure she readily catches up to you when she sees the treat.  (To see photo illustration, read section 5.6 in Perfect Puppy in 7 Days)

Next, repeat the process but don’t show her the treat until after she catches up to you. Once she follows you 3-6 times, she will most likely start to walk with you as you begin to walk away.

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