Category Archives: Puppy Training

Dogs will be Dogs

woman running on dock with a lighthouse in the background. She is running towards viewer and has a dog on either side of her running along in a carefree manner.

I have a challenge for you. For one day I want you to observe your dog, play with your dog, and work with your dog without judgment!

I have a vivid childhood memory of being at my Grandparent’s place. We were celebrating a birthday for my younger sister in their beautiful back garden. My Sis and I were messing around as sisters will do and my Grandpa Johnny got impatient with us. What I remember so clearly about this was what my Mom said to her father, she gently chastised him and informed him that kids will be kids. I felt so good when she defended us from my stern Grandfather. It felt liberating and safe to be me!

I think the quality of any relationship can be enhanced with an absence of judgment. This is no easy task! We are constantly labeling and defining everything in our lives. Events and people are condensed down to good or bad. Things make us happy or make us sad. Maybe we are missing some of the richness of life when we view things this way.

We have a propensity to do this with our dogs too. Whether it is teaching a puppy the ways of the world, or working on more complex moves with a more mature dog.

New puppy parents frequently want more from their pup than what is realistic. Or get impatient when everyday behaviors, like come and loose leash walking take time to train to fluency.

I am not going to call any of this bad. That would be judging and today I am taking myself up on my own challenge : ). Today I am going to hang around with my dog and simply be with her and have fun. We will work on moves, some that I have been working on for months! We will play and walk. Sometimes she will pull me, sometimes she won’t. She will mostly always come running when I call. I hope that I contribute to her feeling good and safe and free to be her, I think I do.

If you feel inclined to take us up on this challenge maybe you will share some of your experience of that day with us here.

Walk This Way

This is an illustration of a woman and a puppy. The woman walks in a straight line towards a tree. The puppy walks all over the place, ending up at the tree. #puppytraining #puppycoaching #puppysocialisation #looseleashwalking #politewalking #karenpryor

Picture an ape swinging from the jungle canopy making her way from point A to point B. A pod of dolphins leaping skyward out of the water and then splashing back in again, a frog hopping or swimming through a pond. How each of these animals moves on the earth is different. Swimming, swinging, slithering, soaring, hopping, no legs, two legs, four legs, wings, fins! Wow!

Imagine if you were required to keep up with a pod of sea lions, take a walk with a kangaroo or keep pace with a snail for a day. Hmm.

With that image fresh in your mind picture what it means to teach our four-legged puppy friends to walk with us. Let’s think about the finer points involved in teaching another species to amble along at our pace. To not do the things they want, but instead pay attention to us.

Does a dog naturally walk in a straight line the same way you do? No. A dog will move forward in different directions, often making turns and big circles, choosing not to follow a sidewalk or a well-worn path but rather, their nose!

 

This is a text graphic which reads: “Brace yourself; They don’t want to walk with you!”

So this is the first thing to consider when we complain about unruly pups on leash. How are we going to interest our dog to walk this way?

The answer is little by little. First building a foundation then adding more and more layers or pieces of the puzzle. Strategically, thoughtfully and with compassion and know-how. Teaching specific things one before the other, as the puppy is ready and as you have prepared him for the next lesson to be learned. This is how you would want to be taught, isn’t it?

In my freshpuppy course I teach polite walking in Puppy Level 3. There are many other important pieces of the puzzle to put into place first. My students may ask “When do we cover leash walking?”, “How do I get my puppy to walk with me?”. Patience Grasshopper, all in good time.

Puppies pull, they lag, they quit, they may be scared, they may be jumping and biting. This is all normal! They are puppies. Brace yourself; they don’t want to walk with you! They would rather sniff, run or chase. They would rather rest in the cool grass or roll in the leaves or the snow. They would rather jump and run over there or over here! They would prefer to grab that leash and have a good game of tug with it. Can you blame them?

I urge you to consider this as well… imagine a stressed, overwhelmed or over-stimulated puppy, who doesn’t know how to sit and who is not interested in checking in with you. Now try to teach that puppy to walk nicely on a leash with you. It’s probably not going to be too much fun for anyone.

There is a ton of other fun stuff for you to focus on with a puppy that will help you move toward teaching the pup to walk politely on the leash and to have a good time doing it. Prioritizing what is important to do and keeping your expectations realistic is so key. Let’s look at some of the foundation work (and play) that will help you gain the willing participation and focus you want from your puppy.

Socialization and exploration

Socialization and exploration trumps polite walking by a long shot! Make sure your puppy is not scared of the world we expect them to navigate. This means a thoughtful and proactive socialization strategy. Use this robust list to help you accomplish this critical work. The socialization field trip worksheet will inspire and help you stay on track with your game plan.

Your dog’s ability to feel safe, curious and capable to deal with complex environments has a direct impact on how well he will be able to walk on a leash with you.

Yoo-hoo!

I’ve dubbed teaching a puppy to check in (with you) ‘Yoo-hoo’. Make it a habit to give your pup incentive to check in. I coach my students to super charge their puppy with lots of tiny treats (about 5) in rapid succession for any sign of this behavior. I won’t prompt a pup for the ‘check in’ but when I get it you can be sure the pup is going to be paid handsomely! Teaching a puppy to check in from a distance is another valuable foundation behavior. You can teach this while doing long line work. Read on.

This is a text graphic which reads: “Do you really want to be less interesting than a lamppost?” #clickertraining #karenpryorgraduate #vettech #puppymythbuster #puppyhowto

Follow me and long line work

Long lines are one of my favorite pieces of puppy equipment. I couldn’t imagine raising a pup without one. It is 20 to 40 feet worth of insurance; it is oodles of hands free fun for you and your puppy. Nothing beats running around hither and yon in wide-open spaces with your pup using treats and toys. This is what dreams are made of! This is how you teach your puppy that you are more interesting than all of the things that are competing for his attention… squirrels, other dogs, leaves, or a lamppost. Do you really want to be less interesting than a lamppost? In addition to running you can walk patterns, big squares or serpentines reinforcing your pup for choosing to stay close by and stop when you do.

Sit

Teach a rock solid sit, it’s simple and so useful. Be sure to make it fun.

My aim in writing about this is for you to stop and consider the complexity of teaching a puppy to walk on a leash. To encourage you to be patient with your puppy and yourself! Have fun together. Give your puppy time and permission to be young and goofy and curious. Start with these priority action plans. Little by little all of the pieces of the puzzle will start to fit together and the big picture is realized. Fast-forward 6 months from now and you have a pup that is starting to walk beautifully with you. Checking in, not pulling, interested in exploring. Calm and confident.

Raising an outstanding canine citizen is not a one-way street. It is more like a 10 lane highway. It’s not all about what we want. We have to learn and care about what our dog wants and needs. I know when my dog is enjoying the learning process. I also know the signs when it is not working for her. I pay attention and change gears when her head is not in the game. My goal is to make the experience fun and successful.

I feel like I will never be done learning things and teaching my dog new things. I recently learned that the name of that motion used by some apes that swing with their arms from the jungle canopy is called brachiation. So cool!

 

This is a text graphic which reads: “Give your puppy permission to be young, goofy and curious.” #germanshepherd #labrador #longbeachdogtrainer #fathersday #dogpsychology #trainingcesarsway #lbc #boxer #4thstlb #trotsdogtraining #longbeachdogs #longbeachdogtraining #longbeach #dogbehavior #rottweiler #walking #rottiworld #dog #rottidobemix #rotti #dobermanpuppy #pit #petsmart #dobe #puppy #greatdane #doberman #pitbullsofinstagram #rott #dogtrainer

An additional thought…

As a side note, is it right to expect our dogs to always want to walk where we walk? I don’t think so! Neither does your dog. We need to provide outings where we take our dog’s lead (safety in mind) as they explore a field, a trail, a park, the shore or the sidewalk. Letting them do what they want and go where they want. Imagine never being able to do that yourself!

When I go out with my dogs the walk will consist of different facets. The ‘let’s walk walk’ or the ‘sniff walk’ or the ‘Okay now watch me and lets look smart walk’. There is also the ‘long line walk’ where pup goes where she wants and I walk that way.

Key to a Puppy’s Future

multiple pictures of a variety of veterinary technicians holding puppies at the Neffsville Veterinary Clinic. Everyone is smiling and all the puppies looked relaxed and comfortable.

Three Cheers for the Neffsville Vet Clinic! This team is proactive when it comes to early puppy education!

 

The majority of people turn to their veterinary team not only for the physical health of their new pup but for guidance on behavior, training and nutrition as well. How much of an impact do veterinary technicians have on a puppy’s future? They can play a significant role in determining what kind of early education people and their pups receive.  They are trusted professionals and can have a critical influence on the decisions their clients make.

Puppies need an enriching, positive socialization program during their critical period of learning and social development, which is birth to 16 weeks. Puppies also need a thoughtful prevention strategy to help stop the development of natural, but undesirable behaviors like separation anxiety, resource guarding and stress around being handled. These are two time sensitive goals for all puppies.

Opportunity

And that’s where veterinary technicians come in. They are in a prime position to enrich their clinic’s wellness program. Helping their clients make positive choices by guiding them to the resources needed to achieve these goals. Getting puppies started in a wellness program and into a well-run class is in everyone’s interest.

The Tools

If you decide to help people get a good start, then we’ve just added tools to make the job easier. Consolidated in one spot under FOR DOG PROS is a new section of resources for professionals. We’re committed to helping provide support materials to puppy wellness programs in clinics, as good clinics really do influence the way a dog is reared.

Benefits

In addition to the obvious benefits of raising a pup that lives a long and happy life, the clinic stands to benefit as well. Here’s how…

  • Client retention: Dogs that receive this kind of early work live long, healthy lives and tend to die of old age rather than being surrendered. Clients are happier and are likely to remain with the clinic for life.
  • Dogs that are made comfortable with being handled are less likely to bite the clinic staff.
  • Happier staff means less (staff) turnover and retraining costs for the vet clinic.
  • A reduction in behavioral problems (aggression, separation anxiety, destruction of property, to name a few) means less dogs will be surrendered or euthanized.
  • Fewer staff and less time is required to treat calm dogs. Keeping the clinic on schedule and cost effective.
  • When you help make your clients successful with their dogs, they will credit you with their success and tell all their friends.
  • You’ll distinguish yourselves from the competition as proactive and puppy friendly. What’s cooler than that?

Win-win-win

Not that long ago the main focus on puppy-rearing’s was house training. Thankfully and happily folks are beginning to recognizing the important aspects of a dedicated socialization and prevention strategy. These components of early puppy education are pivotal to the health and well-being of a dog. The veterinary community is becoming proactive in this area and it’s the veterinary technician that’s leading the way.

Well run clinics that take a positive approach to puppy education are less likely to see adolescent dogs surrendered. Given the obvious benefits to the dog, the client and the clinic isn’t this a win-win solution?


It’s National Vet Tech week and we wanted to highlight all the veterinarian technicians that make a difference in this key area. You ROCK!

Musings from a Recall Warrior

One year old Border Collie with front paws up on rail while she scans the ravine

 

I live in a busy city with many things competing with me for my dog’s attention. I need to be on my game and engage my dog giving her good reason to check in with me. Enter The Recall Warrior. I practice calling my dog multiple times everyday. On the sidewalk, parks, in the house and in the yard. Each time making it worth her time and effort. I pay well over the going rate! If I’m half a block from my walking destination I may go for 5 recalls before I get there. Just running a few paces in the opposite direction calling her to ‘come!’ Take the time to condition a rock solid Recall with your dog! It’s fun and with it comes peace of mind.