Roo is a 2 year old, large, energetic golden doodle who did not have leash walking skills. He was strong enough and determined enough to pull his owner, Sandra, down the street. It wasn’t fun, and safety was an issue.
The first session, we started with some leash management skills, and some focus exercises – getting Roo to look back at Sandra when she asked for his attention “Watch,” and having him come back and touch her hand with his nosed when cued “Touch!” A click from her clicker captured the behavior when it happened, and she followed the click with a tasty training treat! This helped Roo understand what she wanted, and made it fun for him to follow her cues (commands). Then we went over some polite walking skills and practiced indoors with no distractions. Roo was super motivated, and learned fast.
The second session, we reviewed all of the basics and the polite walking inside, and then went out into the parking lot to try the polite walking with outside distractions. Roo was a superstar! It didn’t take him very long to understand where Sandra wanted him to walk – beside her on her left side, checking in by looking up at her face, and getting a click and a treat. Next week we’ll meet at Glasgow Park, where we can introduce doggie distractions at a distance.
Remember, the clicker and treats are not a life sentence. They are learning tools, and can be put in a drawer when the behavior is learned and becomes muscle memory. The clicker is not a remote control that tells your dog what to do. It’s a marker, that lets your dog know exactly when they are doing the behavior you want. Then you reinforce the behavior with a treat. Dogs LOVE this game, and learn skills so fast.
This video is from the end of our second session. Check out how happy Roo is – tail wagging and having so much fun being a good boy. Sandra also has a big smile on her face. This makes me so happy! I love to see the teamwork of a happy owner and her tail wagging dog. There’s no jerking on the leash. No screaming of “No!” No prong or shock collars. Just a happy dog and his human partner, enjoying a nice walk together.