How To Train Your Dog To Behave On A Leash By Your Carmel Animal Clinic

How To Train Your Dog To Behave On A Leash  By Your Carmel Animal Clinic

Many people who bring their dogs into our Carmel Animal Clinic wish they could walk their dog more, but are reluctant to do so because their dog lunges, growls, barks excessively, or pulls so hard on the leash.  This excitable reactivity on the leash is a very common problem which is often caused by something approaching at a distance which causes fear, excitement, or both.

It is very important for dog owners to remember that to create a change in behavior in the dog, we the humans have to change our behavior first.  The goal with these exercises is to replace the emotions of fear and excitement with calm confidence.  Therefore, it is imperative that you the dog owner stay relaxed and confident by thinking of the behavior modification as games to play with your dog.  Always use a calm, relaxed, upbeat tone of voice when training your dog.

Step 1: ¬†The Basic Obedience Commands. ¬†When a dog is loudly barking at another dog, person, object, etc… as you pass by on a walk, their arousal level is too high to learn new commands. ¬†So we start training them when they are relaxed, inside with no distractions. ¬†Teach your dog to come, sit, shake, down, and stay using a food lure. ¬†You must be able to reliably do these basic commands first. ¬†Reinforce this behavior by making them practice this fun game anytime before they get something they want such as dinner, go outside, playtime, etc…

Step 2: ¬†Gradually Increase the Complexity of the Environment. ¬†Once you have mastered the basic obedience commands and taught your dog that you are in control but good things happen when your dog listens, you ready to go outside. ¬†Make sure you have total control of your dog with a 4-6 foot leash attached to a tight collar, harness, EZ Walker, or Gentle Leader. ¬†Do NOT use a retractable leash, choke collar, or pinch collar. ¬†At our Carmel Animal Clinic, I always remind people we want your dog to develop positive associations with people and dogs on walks, so do NOT punish. ¬†If your dog has a history of aggression, you may want to purchase a basket muzzle (not a nylon one) to avoid any liability. ¬†Once you are in control, go for a walk in a less crowded environment where interactions will be minimal. ¬†Continue to work on the basic obedience commands: ¬†come, sit, shake, down, stay, etc… ¬†It is ok to use your dog’s favorite treat like peanut butter, cheese, hot dogs, etc.. ¬†Always say “Good Dog” when the treats are given as well. ¬†After 5 seconds of obedience commands and rewards, continue walking.

Step 3: ¬†Gradually Decrease the Distance Between Your Dog and Its Trigger, Then Pass Across the Street. ¬†What is triggering your dog’s behavior needs to be very far away when you start (>100 ft away). ¬†Again remember if your dog has already worked themselves into a frenzy, learning will not happen well. ¬†Start the obedience commands and reward for the appropriate attention and response with the best treats possible. ¬†Gradually decrease the distance slowly. ¬†If dog starts to focus intently on the stressful thing approaching, get his/her attention with using name, then 5 seconds of obedience training and rewards. ¬†Once the dog will consistently perform a relaxed sit or stay ~40 ft from the stimulus, continue to walk towards it, but on the other side of the street. ¬†Use a large treat placed near the nose and repeatedly give the Heel command in an upbeat tone while walking briskly past the stimulus. ¬†Keep the dogs attention towards the food by keeping the nose pointing forward.

Step 4:  Performing a Sit & Stay Beside the Sidewalk.  Once you can get your dog to reliably and consistently ignore the scary stimulus across the street, you can take your dog ~20 ft to the side of the same sidewalk (or other side if not possible) and command your dog to sit and stay.  Use a treat in front of the nose as the person or dog passes by.  Then reward your dog for maintaining attention on you with the yummy reward and praise.

At our Carmel Animal Clinic, I never see these steps never work right away.  You must be patient and constantly reinforce these steps to ensure your dog does well in different situations.  With time, you can train your dog to make walks enjoyable again.  For more information on our Caring Hands Compassionate Hearts, click on this link to our Carmel Animal Clinic.

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