By Monica Callahan BS KPA-CTP
There are many blog posts and studies proving that you do not need to be a 'pack leader' to your dog. If you would like more information on this, I am more than happy to point you in the right direction. This post is more about what I AM instead of what I'm NOT (a pack leader!).
There is a video going around right now of many trainers stating their name and that they are not a pack leader. I would like to join them. I am Monica Callahan. I am a KPA-CTP, business owner, and owner of two dalmatians, yet I am not a pack leader. My dogs do not run the house, they abide by the rules, yet I am not a pack leader. I am an owner, partner, and friend at different points in our relationship.
I am an owner, and a responsible one at that. I provide food, exercise, and shelter for my dogs. This is what is expected of you as a responsible owner. I do not make my dogs eat after me, I do not withhold food for bad manners. My dogs are still well behaved.
I am a partner. It is my responsibility to show my dogs how to act and to teach them the rules of the house in a humane, safe way. I do not expect my dog to listen to me because he should automatically respect me. That respect develops and is earned just as you would earn it with a child. My dogs are my partners in the show ring. When we start gaiting the circle, or begin the agility course, we work together because we enjoy it, not because I am commanding my dog to follow me.
I am a friend. Who wants to live being afraid of your fellow housemate? I am not afraid that my husband will hit me, nor my child, why should my dog be afraid that I am going to hit them? When we go for walks, when we enjoy a night in, I am enjoying the company of a companion, a friend. We are comfortable with each other, we enjoy each other. We do not fear each other.
Monica Callahan KPA-CTP
By Monica Callahan KPA-CTP
One of the most popular items to work on in dog training is loose leash walking (llw). No one wants to be dragged around by their best friend from tree to tree. You would think it's just something a dog should KNOW, but it's not. In fact, being tied to a tether is something dogs have to get used to, because its just not natural.
Before beginning your journey of loose leash walking, you first have to desensitize your dog to being on a leash if they are not already. This is a very common practice with puppies. Bringing the leash out and click/treating when the dog interacts or sees the leash is a great place to start, as you're beginning to associate a tether with good things. If your dog was a stray that you adopted, there's a good chance your dog may have never been introduced to a tether as a puppy, so this is also great to work on with adults as well.
Soon you can begin to bring the leash closer to your dog's collar/harness and click/treat for your dog allowing you to do so. Eventually we would like to clip it to the collar/harness. And so at this point, we have to begin teaching our dog that as long as there is slack in the leash, he will get good things.
The first step to loose leash walking:
(There are many different techniques that can be used to teach loose leash walking, this is just one of them!)
- The left side is the good side! We don't want to constantly be tripped by our dogs crossing in front of us to go sniff over there or see this twig right here. We would generally like our dogs to stick to a certain side of the walkway while we stick to ours. You can teach your dog that the left (or right) side is the side to be on. We generally pick the left side because when teaching the sport of obedience, it is all performed on the left side, so it's just easier for people to remember. So how do we teach our dogs that the left side is the place to be?
It is up to you if you would like to start with your dog leashed or not. If you are afraid that juggling a clicker, leash, treats, and your dog will be too much, eliminate the leash for now. Begin inside your house, where there are not a lot of distractions. Let your dog wander around you a bit, and if they happen to cross your left side, go ahead and click/treat. Feed your dog the treats from your left hand, keeping the clicker in your right hand. It may take a few tries, but eventually you should be seeing your dog moving to your left side in hopes of a treat, and then eventually staying there.
When your dog is consistently moving to your left side, try turning to your right. If your dog takes a tiny step with you, click the instant they step with you. The important thing to remember now is to click as your dog is moving (but clicking while your dog is stationary on your left side will never be harmful). We want your dog to understand that moving as we move is what we are reinforcing, making sure they aren't forging ahead of us.
Once your dog is comfortable moving in a circle with you, try to take one step forward. Did your dog move along your left side with you? Click/treat as you're moving! Stay with one step for awhile, make sure your dog has the hang of it. You can introduce a cue before you take your step. I tend to use 'Let's Go!', then step, click/treat. Use the cue before you take a step whenever practicing loose leash walking.
I am going to stop here, and show a video of Megan and Kevin, one of my students, in the beginning stages of loose leash walking. Megan and Kevin have accomplished their loose leash walking inside and are bringing it outside. There are many more distractions outside than inside, so we have to lower the criteria a lot in order for Kevin to be successful. Remember, we always want our dogs to be successful. If they are not, then we moved too quickly and should go back a step until they are.
Look for the next step in our loose leash walking journey soon!
Monica Callahan BS KPA-CTP
By Monica Callahan BS KPA-CTP
(A repost from my old blog, March 10, 2011)
Charging the Clicker–
This gets the dog knowing that when I click the clicker, you get a treat! Best thing ever!!! My trainer tells me you should even do this after they know what the clicker is. It keeps the clicker charged and it’s just good to refresh with your dog sometimes.
After the dog knows what a clicker is, start saying their name, click/treat. This gets attention every time you say the dogs name. I can see a big difference between Delta and Doc with this. Every time I say “Doc”, no matter what he is doing (even when highly aroused around a dog), he flips his head back towards me and looks. That’s because he’s used to hearing Doc, click/treat. I always make sure to reward him somehow when I say his name. I love having this recognition. Delta, although I am now working on it a lot with her, will still wait a few seconds or possibly not even listen depending on how aroused she is.
This is the basis to leave it. Doc has picked up on leave it so much faster than Delta has. You put a piece of food in your hand. Close the fist, put it down so your dog can sniff it. Your dog, depending on how demanding they are, and if they have done this before, will try to mug your hand. You can have a dog that will bump your hands a few times and stop, try to eat your hand, or anywhere in between. As soon as they pause away from your hand or pull back a bit, click/treat. You’re telling your dog that when they aren’t pushy and leave the treat alone, they get the treat.
You can eventually open your hand and if the dog goes to the treat, close it. When they pull away for that split second (when your hand is open), click/treat. You will eventually have a dog not going towards the treat in your open hand. Eventually this leads to putting it at different areas around their head in your hand and they leave it alone. And then eventually putting it on the floor with your foot close to it in case you have to step over it so the dog doesn’t go get it. When they leave the treat alone for a second without you covering it, click/treat.
This is where I see Doc surpass Delta the most. Doc and I work on eye contact ALL the time. In the beginning, I would just sit there with Doc on a leash and wait for him to look up at my face, click/treat. It begins to happen more and more. For dogs that have trouble with eye contact, you can shape it, beginning with a turn of their head towards you. Then move to looking at you anywhere on your body, and slowly pull it up to your head. Eventually, I would expect longer periods of eye contact before click/treating. As I upped the distraction, I lowered the amount of time I expected him to focus on me. With no distractions, I would up the amount of time I expected him to focus on me. Now, while it is quite creepy sometimes, Doc will just stare holes into me in obedience class. He is lucky he has such beautiful eyes. :)
Monica Callahan BS KPA-CTP is the owner of Anything's Possible LLC in North Olmsted, OH. She graduated from The University of Findlay in 2011, double majoring in Pre-Veterinary Medicine and Biology. She also has a minor in Chemistry. Monica went on to attend Karen Pryor Academy for Animal Training & Behavior, and graduated with distinction in January 2012. That is when she decided to open Anything's Possible LLC.
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