What are you teaching your dog?

July 25, 2017

We have been training using distance as our friend. Some of the parks and trails in Forsyth County can bring our dogs up close and personal with others pretty quickly. We prefer the parks rather than trails, as parks give us more opportunity to see what’s ahead and create more distance. Mitch has been doing really well and is indifferent to other dogs these days. Molly, our younger pup, has self-control around people but thinks every dog she meets is a new best friend.

We are teaching self-control as it’s important to respect other dog owners who do not want our friendly, energetic dog bouncing all over theirs. We wouldn’t like it either.

We were reminded of four simple tips for exercising our dogs outside, and one training lesson, this weekend.

Tip #1: Keep your dog on a leash – Even in a remote location. Guess who else is exercising their dog here? Other owners just like us who may be unsure how their dog will respond to other dogs. Dog parks, open fields, and the lake are all great places to exercise your dog. If there are leash laws, be sure to follow them. We are confident that our dogs will return when called, but there are many distractions that may be temporarily more appealing than you. Who knows what the outcome could be?

Tip #2: Manage your dog around others – Keep them close to you when you pass another dog on the trail. Your dog may be the friendliest ever, but you do not know if the other is friendly, aggressive, or a big scaredy cat. The owner could be enjoying a good workout and have no desire to stop to fuss over your best friend.

Tip #3: Use an alternative to a retractable leash – Other than safety concerns, the retractable leash may be spoiling your training. Your dog has to pull against the tension of the retractable leash to get more distance. Can you spot the reinforcer here? Your dog thinks if I pull, there’s more tension on the leash, and I get more distance. Your dog is rewarded for pulling, which makes it more difficult to teach the no-pull walk. We prefer a long leash if we want to give our dogs more freedom.

Tip #4: Clean up after your dog – Even on more remote trails, we don’t know who is following us. It could be a child who isn’t watching where they step. It’s not fun for anyone to step in poo or see it at the side of the trail. Just pick it up and prevent dog owners getting a worse reputation.

Now for the test.

If you saw your dog rolling on the ground and didn’t like it, what would you do?

If you are a client of ours, then you may have used your “Touch” cue to bring the dog to you and then throw a ball or do something else you prefer over your dog rolling in the dirt. As we say, focus on what you want, not what you don’t want.

Our dogs got to meet and play with two other dogs this weekend, both of who were wearing shock collars. It is not our place to force people toward our training methods or judge, so we’ll keep to the facts.

One of her dogs rolled in the dirt (like dogs do), so out came the remote and the dog got a buzz. That’ll teach him for having fun and playing! Molly was close by, so what did the dog think the shock was for? Was the shock for the presence of a black dog? How would the dog respond to black dogs in the future? With no alternative provided to the undesired behavior, the dog does not know how to act instead.

Thank you for trusting us to train your dog through encouraging play and without pain.

Have fun with your dog and let us know what questions you have!

Credit. This blog was inspired by Smart Dog University