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Checkers the Appenzeller

Checkers the Appenzeller would get so excited about going for a walk, that he would leap twice his body length into the air, and then dash out the door as soon as it opened - pulling his human out, and then down the driveway. Now Wikipedia characterizes Appenzellers - a dog bred to herd cattle and guard property - as lively, high-spirited, athletic, and suspicious of strangers. I knew we would either have to help Checkers learn some patience and manners… or find him some cattle to herd.

So we worked on polite walking, teaching him to check in with his owner and make eye contact to get a reinforcer. That helped him to focus, and learn that we wanted him to walk beside his human. We worked on walking safely and politely up and down the driveway. Finally, we practiced waiting patiently at the door until invited out and then checking in with his person before starting to walk. My strategy was to have Checkers follow the rules, and to think it was his idea! It wasn’t easy at first, but it was fun, and Checkers was motivated to be a good boy, and also truly liked the reinforcement (treats!).

Soon Checkers was happily waiting at the door and following his owner down the driveway. There’s still more work to do, but this is a good start and a win-win for positive reinforcement.

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