During the early evening of August 2nd, we joined Dawn Goehring and Buddy from Animal Biz Behavior and Training for our very first Loose Leash Training seminar! Dawn is Hawai’i’s only certified behavior consultant and has dedicated over twenty-four years to helping owners succeed with their dogs. She is truly committed to teaching owners and keeping the bond between them and their dogs alive and well! We had a wonderful turnout and we were excited to be able to reach out to members of our community to share the valuable information she has to offer! At the seminar, we learned that your dog’s world is run by scent and that each walk is like taking a trip to Disneyland. It’s exciting and new! However, this can turn what is supposed to be a fun and relaxing activity for the both of you into a stressful and chaotic one. Dawn and Buddy carefully demonstrated the importance of having good communication between owner and dog. Together, they showed us how practicing different walking exercises and combining them with a tasty reward can help keep your dog focused on you, rather than the outside world. She noted that through time, patience, and consistency your dog will learn to walk beside you rather than pull you down the street.
Here are a few walking exercises from Dawn that you can use to help make walking on leash fun!
- The magic spot”: Place a treat (not random drop.. put down) next to your foot and walk ahead as your dog is eating it. When your dog catches up to you, place another and repeat. After several repetitions, do not place a treat at foot and see if you dog looks up to you for it. Then reinforce that attention.
- “Check in”: Allow your dog to sniff (just not pull) and stand still and wait for check in (look to you). Reinforce each look at you. Try on a long leash (20-30 ft) of giving your dog some choice to see environment and when your dog looks at you high value reinforcer. You will find your dog chooses to keep close and check in often.
- “Hand target”/”by my side”: Teach your dog to follow your fist and that it opens often to reinforce the dog’s attention on it. Start by walking backwards and eventually you will pivot to the side and your dog ends up at your side. Randomly reinforce this. Eventually you can call this “by my side” and use as a sort of heel position.
- “Sit/Step”: Start with one step at a time. Step=reward, step=reward, etc. then 2 step=reward, 2 step =reward.. etc
- “One step forward/two steps back”: If your dog pulls towards something, use your let’s go and move away. Take 2 steps backward and then start moving forward again. Let your dog realize that if they want something they cannot pull you to get it.
- “Speed and slow walking”: Teach them a cue for walking fast and walking slow. Make it a game.
- Keep engaged!!! Pay attention to your dog on walks. When you check out on your phone your dog learns to pay more attention to the environment.
Mahalo nui loa to Dawn and to everyone who attended the seminar! See you at the next one!