The key to teaching your dog to walk nicely on the lead is to teach them that not pulling is the fastest way to get to where they want to go.
Teaching your dog not to pull takes time, patience and consistency but the benefits can be huge.
Teach your dog to walk without pulling:
Like a case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, the leash-aggressive dog is calm, cool, and downright polite when walking among people or around dogs off-leash. But hook on a leash, and he lunges, barks, and snaps at the sight of another dog. Has this scenario reduced you to mapping out walks where you know you won’t run into other dogs?
Although leash-aggressive dogs rarely follow through with a bite, the experience is frightening and embarrassing enough to make their owners decide to limit or eliminate walks altogether. But that doesn’t have to be the case if you understand the causes and solutions for this type of behavior. A combination of frustration and tension, leash aggression is a common problem. Many dogs that show these traits crave interaction with other dogs, but most have less-than-stellar canine social skills for creating a successful meet and greet. Much like a child who runs onto a playground and puts another child in a headlock as a way of saying, “Hey, let’s be friends!” a dog lacking social skills may lunge and bark at a passing dog instead of using subtle signs to signal their desire to form a relationship. When their owners witness this behavior they (understandably) pull their dogs away and avoid exposing them to social interactions with other canines. But this ensures that their dog will never learn how to correctly interact with other dogs, and dooms them and their dog to a life devoid of canine friendships.
Call in the Experts
While it sounds counter-intuitive, the road to fixing this issue is actually off-leash interactions with dogs. But don’t do this without seeking the help of a professional dog trainer, because before you take this step, you must learn how to correctly read the native language of dogs--body language! If you don’t know what your dog or the other dog is saying with their body signals, you may see play when it’s really tension, and tension when it’s really dog play.
In addition, a qualified trainer can help you evaluate your dog to see if this is a typical case of leash aggression, or if there’s something else happening. Whenever I’m handling this type of dog behavior problem, I always make sure that the dog has had a complete veterinary exam to rule out any medical causes for the behavior.
Turn to Treats to Distract
In the meantime, start decreasing your dog’s frustration when he’s on leash and spies another dog by removing the tension from your leash. To do that, you’re going to teach your dog that when he sees another dog, he’ll be rewarded for looking at you.
This training game is called “Cookie Dog,” and starts with you and your dog sitting on a park bench in an area where there are a small number of dogs out and about. Do your research in advance and scout out a few places without your dog. Your dog should be very hungry (playing this before mealtimes is ideal) and you should have a large amount of high-value types of dog treats (steak, chicken, tortellini) with you. Keep in mind that the treats you always use when you’re training at home will be less exciting when you’re outside and there are lots of distractions. And you already know how rewarding he finds other dogs, so be prepared to break out the good stuff!
Once you’re at the bench with your on-leash hungry dog and your fabulous treats, wait for a dog to come by. The minute you see your dog notice him, say “Cookie dog!” and put a treat in front of his nose. Feed him treat after treat until the dog has gone by. At that point, no more reward—until the next dog shows up.
This is going to teach your dog that the arrival of another dog means you’re going to pay out treats like a hot slot machine in Vegas. The result should be that your dog sees the other dog, turns to you, and expects a reward. Keep up this game for a week or so. Once your dog consistently looks to you when another dog enters the picture, you can then ask your calm and focused dog to “Sit” and “Stay.”
After a few weeks of playing the Cookie Dog game on a bench, start playing it on the move. It’s crucial that you are focused on your dog and the presence of other dogs while on the walk. That means that during this phase, keep your mind in the game and not on texting, talking on the phone, or listening to music. Besides, you’ll be meeting so many new people and their dogs, you won’t have time to do anything else.
Getting your dog to focus on you when other dogs appear is the first step toward maintaining his Dr. Jekyll personality on leash. With practice and some professional input, you can keep him from turning into Mr. Hyde when other dogs appear.
How Does Clicker Training Help?- From The A.K.C.- Training
In positive reinforcement training, a dog is rewarded after performing a desirable behavior. Without the use of a clicker or other marker, it might be obvious to the trainer what is being rewarded, but is it obvious to the dog? For example, when teaching a dog to lie down, how do you make it clear you are rewarding belly on the ground? You have to make sure the reward is given while the dog is lying down rather than the dog getting up to get it. Otherwise, the dog might think the reward is for standing up or walking toward you. That’s easy with food treats, but impossible if the reward is a round of fetch or tug.
What about dogs who pop up from a down as soon they touch the floor? You can’t possibly get the reward to them fast enough. Or, what about more challenging behaviors like those performed at a distance? How do you get your dog a reward for jumping through a hoop at the exact moment they pass through the hoop? That’s where the power of the click or other marker comes in. The click marks the moment you are going to reward, then bridges the gap in time until the reward arrives. Your dog knows exactly what action was correct.
But couldn’t you just use praise in the same way? You could, but it’s not nearly as clear. You communicate with your dog using praise all the time. In fact, it’s a wonderful part of rewarding your dog. Plus, there is nothing about praise that is specific to the training situation, nor would you want that to be the case. Gushing over your dog is part of the joy of dog ownership. Using a clicker or other training-specific marker prevents confusion about the reward to come.
On top of the benefit of clarity, clicker-trained dogs tend to love learning. They want to train and work hard to earn a click. From your dog’s point of view, mark and reward training makes teaching new behaviors a game. It takes pressure off the trainer too. Looking for clickable moments means you focus on your dog’s good choices, rather than dwelling on mistakes. Like any form of positive reinforcement training, clicker training boosts your communication, builds your bond with your dog, and makes training fun.
How Do You Use Clicker Training?
To use a clicker or other marker, you’ll first need to teach the dog what the marker means. Sometimes called “loading the clicker,” you pair your chosen marker with a reward. So, click, then immediately treat. After about 10–20 repetitions, your dog will understand that the marker predicts a coming reward. Now you’re ready to put the clicker into practice.
You can use your marker with lure-and-reward training, where you use a reward to lure your dog into the behavior you’re looking for. But it’s also useful for shaping behaviors. Shaping involves building a complex behavior through baby steps. The clicker is also a great way to capture good behavior. So if you see your dog lying quietly on a mat instead of begging at the table, click then reward that behavior. Or if your dog has all four paws on the floor when the doorbell rings, click that moment before your dog has a chance to jump on guests. Last but not least, clicker training is a great way to teach tricks.
Eventually, when your dog has learned a new behavior, you won’t need the marker anymore. After all, it’s simply a teaching tool. But whenever you want to lure, shape, or capture a behavior, the clicker or other marker will help you communicate clearly with your dog so the behavior you want is the behavior you’ll get.
Most pet parents don’t enjoy dogs who bite, chew and mouth their hands, limbs or clothing during play and interaction. The jaws of an adult dog can cause significantly more pain than puppy teeth, and adult dogs can inadvertently cause injury while mouthing. Mouthing is often more difficult to suppress in adult dogs because adults aren’t as sensitive to our reactions as puppies are, and they’re usually more difficult to control physically because of their size.
Adult dogs who mouth people probably never learned not to do so during puppyhood. It’s likely that their human parents didn’t teach them how to be gentle or to chew toys instead.
Is It Playful Mouthing or Aggressive Behavior?
Most mouthing is normal dog behavior. But some dogs bite out of fear or frustration, and this type of biting can indicate problems with aggression. It’s sometimes difficult to tell the difference between normal play mouthing and mouthing that precedes aggressive behavior. In most cases, a playful dog will have a relaxed body and face. His muzzle might look wrinkled, but you won’t see a lot of tension in his facial muscles. Playful mouthing is usually less painful than more serious, aggressive biting. Most of the time, an aggressive dog’s body will look stiff. He may wrinkle his muzzle and pull back his lips to expose his teeth. Serious, aggressive bites are usually quicker and more painful than those delivered during play.
If you suspect that your dog’s biting fits the description of aggressive behavior, please consult a qualified professional, such as a Certified Applied Animal Behaviorist (CAAB or ACAAB) or a board-certified veterinary behaviorist (Dip ACVB). If you can’t find a behaviorist in your area, you can seek help from a Certified Professional Dog Trainer (CPDT), but be sure that the trainer you choose is qualified to help you. Determine whether she or he has extensive education and experience successfully treating aggression, since this expertise isn’t required for CPDT certification. Please see our article, Finding Professional Behavior Help, to locate a behaviorist or a CPDT in your area.
How to Minimize Your Dog’s Mouthing and Nipping
Dogs spend a great deal of time playing, chewing and investigating objects. They also enjoy playing with people, of course. Puppies chew on our fingers and toes, and they investigate people’s bodies with their mouths and teeth. This kind of behavior may seem cute when your dog is seven weeks old, but it’s not so endearing when he’s two or three years old—and much bigger!
It’s important to help your dog learn to curb his mouthy behavior. There are various ways to teach this lesson, some better than others. The ultimate goal is to train your dog to stop mouthing and biting people altogether. However, the first and most important objective is to teach him that people have very sensitive skin, so he must be very gentle when using his mouth during play.
Bite Inhibition: Teach Your Dog to Be Gentle
Bite inhibition refers to a dog’s ability to control the force of his mouthing. A puppy or dog who hasn’t learned bite inhibition with people doesn’t recognize the sensitivity of human skin, so he bites too hard, even in play. Some behaviorists and trainers believe that a dog who has learned to use his mouth gently when interacting with people will be less likely to bite hard and break skin if he ever bites someone in a situation apart from play—like when he’s afraid or in pain.
Young dogs usually learn bite inhibition during play with other dogs. If you watch a group of dogs playing, you’ll see plenty of chasing, pouncing and wrestling. Dogs also bite each other all over. Every now and then, a dog will bite his playmate too hard. The victim of the painful bite yelps and usually stops playing. The offender is often taken aback by the yelp and also stops playing for a moment. However, pretty soon both playmates are back in the game. Through this kind of interaction, dogs learn to control the intensity of their bites so that no one gets hurt and the play can continue without interruption. If dogs can learn from each other how to be gentle, they can learn the same lesson from people.
When you play with your dog, let him mouth on your hands. Continue play until he bites especially hard. When he does, immediately give a high-pitched yelp, as if you’re hurt, and let your hand go limp. This should startle your dog and cause him to stop mouthing you, at least momentarily. (If yelping seems to have no effect, you can say “Too bad!” or “You blew it!” in a stern voice instead.) Praise your dog for stopping or for licking you. Then resume play. If your dog bites you hard again, yelp again. Repeat these steps no more than three times within a 15-minute period.
If you find that yelping alone doesn’t work, you can switch to a time-out procedure. Time-outs are often effective for curbing mouthy behavior in adolescent and adult dogs. When your dog delivers a hard bite, yelp loudly. Then, when he startles and turns to look at you or looks around, remove your hand. Either ignore him for 10 to 20 seconds or, if he starts mouthing on you again, get up and move away for 10 to 20 seconds. If necessary, leave the room. After the short time-out, return to your dog and encourage him to play with you again. It’s important to teach him that gentle play continues, but painful play stops. Play with your dog until he bites hard again. When he does, repeat the sequence above. When your dog isn’t delivering really hard bites anymore, you can tighten up your rules a little. Require your dog to be even gentler. Yelp and stop play in response to moderately hard bites. Persist with this process of yelping and then ignoring your dog or giving him a time-out for his hardest bites. As those disappear, do the same for his next-hardest bites, and so on, until your dog can play with your hands very gently, controlling the force of his mouthing so that you feel little or no pressure at all.
What to Do Next: Teach Your Dog That Teeth Don’t Belong on Human Skin
After you teach your dog to be gentle with his mouth, you can move on to the next step: teaching him to avoid mouthing people altogether. Try the following tips:
How to Potty Train a Puppy: Tips for New Pet Parents
When deciding how to potty train a puppy, or a newly adopted dog, you have two options— train them to relieve themselves outdoors, or inside your home on a pee pad and then transition them to the outdoors. We’ll take you through both options and give you tips to incorporate crate potty training into your plan.
How to Train a Puppy to Pee OutsideYour puppy can’t tell you they have to relieve themselves, or can they? They can if you teach them a “potty cue.” Potty cues begin by showing your pet how to signal they want to go outdoors. From there, your puppy will associate the feeling of peeing with being outside of your home. Here’s how to get started:
Step 1: Teach your puppy the potty cueHave your puppy sit by the back door. When your pet barks, open the back door and let them out. Rather not teach your pup to bark? Try a bell. When your pet rings the bell, open the door and take them outside. Remember, the potty cue is just for going potty, don’t let your puppy play too much outside after doing their business - otherwise, they will associate the cue with getting to play outside, not just going potty.
What to do if you need to change the potty cueSo you taught your puppy to bark when they need to go to the bathroom, but now they bark nonstop. You can try teaching them a new cue like sitting at the door. You could even place a rug by the door, and train your puppy to know that when they sit on the rug, you open the door. From here, repeat steps two and three to complete your pet’s retraining.
Step 2: Determine a set potty areaPut your puppy on a leash and walk them out to the part of the yard you want your dog to relieve themselves at. Don’t continue walking. Instead, wait for your pet to relieve themselves. When your puppy does, reward them with treats and verbal praise. This will make peeing outside a positive experience. If they don’t go, take your puppy back in the house and repeat. They will catch on fast.
Step 3: Use a crate when you’re not homeWhen you aren’t home with your pet, confine them to an area, such as a crate. This helps limit accidents in your bedroom, living room, or any other areas when you aren’t there to hear or see the cue.
The Indoors-to-Outdoors MethodIf you don’t have a yard, or your puppy is in the process of completing their shots, it may be best to begin potty training indoors and then transition your pet to the outdoors. To begin training your dog to relieve themselves in the correct place indoors, you’ll need to learn how to potty train a puppy on pads, or how to get started with crate potty training.
How to potty train a puppy on padsDetermine a confined area to begin house training—like the bathroom or the laundry room (ideally somewhere with easy to clean floors in case of accidents!). Whichever area you decide, make sure it’s puppy-proofed and remove any harmful products. Next, set up the space by covering the floor with pee pads and placing your pet’s bed in a corner of the room.
To help you get started with a routine, here are some steps you can follow:
STEP 1: Change pee pads often but place a small piece of the soiled pad on top of the clean pad in the area you want your puppy to pee. The scent reminds your puppy that this area is the bathroom.
STEP 2: Remove the pee pads closest to your pet’s bed once your puppy is peeing in the same area.
STEP 3: Continue removing the pee pads until you have removed all but one or two sheets.
When you have consistent success with your puppy only using one or two pee pads, you can gradually expand the area they have access to. If accidents begin to occur, reduce the area. For pet parents who plan to transition their puppy to an indoor or patio grass “potty,” migrate the papers near this spot. Now, you’re ready to teach your puppy a potty cue so they can relieve themselves outdoors.
Crate potty trainingBefore you begin crate potty training, you need the right size containment. Keep in mind your pet only needs enough space to stand up, turn around, and lie down. Any more room will encourage them to relieve themselves in one corner and sleep in another. Some crates come with dividers so you can adjust the size as they grow.
To get your puppy used to their crate, toss a treat in and allow them to go inside and come back out. Praise your puppy each time they enter. Work your way up to your pet spending 10 minutes in their crate and then longer once they’re comfortable. When your puppy associates their crate as their living space, crate potty training begins.
Instead of soiling the area where they sleep and eat, they’ll let you know they need to go. Like other potty training methods, developing a routine is key. Within fifteen minutes of eating, drinking or playing, your puppy should have the opportunity to relieve themselves. For more tips on crate potty training, check out our crate training guide.
How Long Does it Take to Potty Train a Puppy?There is no defined timeframe when it comes to how to potty train a puppy. There are many factors that come into play, with consistency being the most important. Be sure to reward your puppy when they follow their training plan.
Dealing with accidentsAccidents will happen no matter how much you try to prevent them. It’s a matter of determining the cause and reinforcing positive behavior. Recognizing when your pet is stressed or what continually triggers accidents will help you come up with corrective measures. For cleaning up messes, be sure to give the soiled area a good cleaning. Pet-safe stain removers and odor removers are good cleaning products to have on hand.
Keep in mind that even a house trained puppy will have accidents when out and about. To limit this behavior, keep your puppy’s schedule as consistent as possible. If you’re going on a trip or visiting friends, take your puppy on a long walk with lots of opportunities to empty their bladder beforehand. Bringing toys is another useful technique, as they can help keep your pet focused on an activity.
Potty training a puppy takes time and commitment, so don’t lose your patience. When you feel your pet is straying off course, return to the basics. Whichever method you choose, stick to it and develop a routine. With positive reinforcement, your pet will begin to recognize when they are showing good behavior. Stay prepared by shopping all the potty training supplies you’ll need!
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