Leash Training Conversation with Jamie, Certified Obedience Trainer

Shar and Jamie talk about Leash Training

photo by Dogma Pet Portraits

Jamie:  One of my dogs, who ended up being one of my favorite dogs, was a yellow lab. Labs are notorious for being great dogs, but also notorious for being a little crazy. And this dog was definitely crazy once he got on the leash. In the house, he was perfectly behaved, but once he got out for a walk it was non-stop pulling, barking at other dogs, going after squirrels and generally being unmanageable on the leash. So, I worked with him just doing leash training 4 to 5 one hour walks every week. Which was very intense training. After a couple of months of working with him, I was able to walk him every day happily. It became an enjoyable walk, he was not longer pulling (most of the time), and he was not going after other distractions as much. It got to the point where I was really able to enjoy my relationship with this dog because he had improved so much. And that is what we really want to give to our clients. We want them to enjoy doing things with their dogs that they weren’t able to previously.

Shar: So, if you are dog owner and you feel frustrated, obedience training is what you want. Or leash training depending on what specific behavior is frustrating you.

Jamie: If your feeling frustrated with your dog, it is always the best thing to contact a professional. Get ahold of us, we can give you some tips, we can just come a meet you and do the free assessment. There is no commitment at that point. Just to see what your options are with your dog’s behaviors, you might be getting very frustrated with something simple that we can solve.

Shar: So, by the end of walking that yellow lab, was he walking loose leash?

Jamie: Most of the time for about 30 40 minutes of the hour long walk, we were doing loose leash. He would stay right at my side, slack in the leash, and he would walk at my speed. There were still times where I would have to keep him in check, but with a two year old lab, you can only expect that.  And given where we started, with the progress that we made, I was very happy with it. Often times people think that if they have been trying to work with their dog for a short period of time and they don’t see changes, that it must not be working. However, it just takes repeated exposure to this new behavior.

Consistency is the most important part of obedience training. Consistency in practicing, how often you practice, as well as the way that you are saying things to your dog, they way that you are acting towards them your body language, all of these things our dogs pick up on. And we might not notice it! So many times we teach our dogs things without even realizing that they are learning from us. So many dogs see a leash and they freak out excited! Because they have learned that they only time they see a leash is to go for a walk. These are things we subconsciously teach our dogs, and they can become a problem down the road. But, when we consistently address a problem in the same way every time, it teaches them what they are supposed to do, and what is expected of them. Being consistent is really the only way that dogs can learn.

Shar: Ok, in all honesty, when you first started walking the yellow lab, was he really that bad?

Jamie: Yes. He is the only dog who has been able to pull me down. That happened one time, and it didn’t happen again. It wasn’t because he was a bad dog, he really was a good dog.  He was a happy boy, he was just never taught how to behave. Sadly,  his owners felt that that was just how he was and that there was nothing they could do. So, after working with him for so long and showing that he can be a good boy, and that it is up to us to teach him how to be, and we were all really happy with his progress.

Shar: And that’s true for any dog, really!  All dogs across the board are good, they just need to be shown how to act.

Jamie: We either inadvertently teach them bad behaviors, or there is a lack of instruction. If they don’t know how to act, they are going to with their instincts and what feels good to them. Which, as we know is not always what we want. Whether that’s getting into garbage, weather its barking at people outside their house, or chasing that cat. These things that instinctually reward them, because it follows their natural drives, dogs will follow those instincts if we don’t give them proper guidelines to follow.

 

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