Leash Walking Basics

Leash walking basics – does your dog walk politely on leash? Spring is fast approaching – now is a great time to brush up on your dog’s leash walking skills so you both can enjoy long walks in the warm Spring weather!

Does your dog pull on the leash and make walks uncomfortable? Do you dread the thought of walking your dog? If so, you are not alone. Many dogs struggle with leash walking – too many distractions on walks, lack of connection with the owner, the wrong gear, and lack of basic training can all contribute to dogs pulling on leash.

Leash walking basics: How to deal with distractions on the walk

Does your dog ignore you or disregard you on walks? Do and go wherever he wants? Have you given him a reason to pay attention to you? Many dogs focus on everything but their owner, but everything but their owner is interesting on walks. It’s not that they don’t love you, it’s just that everything else is so exciting! So how do you get your dog to pay attention to you on walks?

Be unpredictable! If your dog pulls one way say “ah ah!” and then go in the other direction. Don’t yank the leash, let the leash stay taut and then use your feet to move in the other direction. Do this every time the dogs pulls and they will soon realize that they need to pay attention to you because you are all over the place! When doing this, and your dog joins you at your side again, be generose with praise. A happy “good dog!” will help your dog get the idea that staying with you is a great thing. You can also punctuate the “good dog!” with a tasty treat for super fast attention.

Leash walking basics: Reward your dog for being at your side

It is amazing how many dogs figure out where to be when their walking buddy delivers the occasional tasty treat (or more than occasional in the beginning – a treat for every step may be needed for completely green polite leash walkers). Think of this exercise as rewarding your dog for being in the place you want him to be. It isn’t a forever thing either – but it IS worth working on for a few minutes every day to help your dog get the hang of where they are supposed to be (and who should be paying attention to) on walks.

Leash walking basics: Walking gear we recommend

A 6 foot leash is a must for a pleasant dog walk. Don’t use a retractable leash ever on a walk. Retractable leashes teach the opposite of polite walking – dogs have to pull to make the leash work and there is constant tension on leash – neither of which we want! I also do not recommend a short leash. The walk should be fun for the dog and you. Occasional sniffing and exploring is a great reward for polite leash walking. A 6 foot leash is great for this!

Sometimes dogs need some additional help to not pull. Our favorite harness is the Freedom No Pull Harness. This harness is well made, doesn’t change the dog’s natural gait, is padded and comfy, and helps deter pulling in a humane way. If your dog is much larger than you and a puller, a serious puller, or you feel need extra control, a Gentle Leader or Halti is a good option. If you aren’t sure how to get started with one, ask a trainer to help you. We don’t use or recommend prong, choke or pinch collars.

Basic training can help with walking behavior too

A dog who knows how to sit, lay down, stay, touch, and watch (make and keep eye contact) can be easier to manage on a walk. A sitting dog isn’t lunging excitedly at other dogs. A dog looking into his owner’s eyes isn’t eyeing up a squirrel. A dog doing a stay at a curb isn’t running into traffic. Doing obedience on walks is also a great way to get twice the bang for your buck in terms energy drain on a walk – thinking dogs become tired dogs.

Ready to head out for a great walk? See you on the trail or in the neighborhood! Here are come more tips for a great dog walk!

Looking for new places to walk your dog? Sussex County has great dog friendly parks!

Pepper’s Paws, LLC provides in home dog training and behavior consultations for basic manners, behavior problems, and fear aggression in Rehoboth Beach, DE. We also offer Zoom dog training lessons for people who are not in our service area.

Head trainer Deb Murray, is Certified Canine Behavior Consultant (CBCC-KA) and Certified Professional Dog Training (CPDT-KA) by the Certification Council of Professional Dog Trainers, a Fear Free Certified Traineran AKC Evaluator, and a Distinguished Graduate and Mentor Trainer for the Catch Canine Academy.

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Five Reasons to Train Your Dog

train your dog in a class

Owners: You should train your dog. Maybe you think training is a waste of money or maybe just a waste of time. Or you grew up with dogs and know with enough repetition your dog will ‘get’ the important stuff eventually. Perhaps you think if people can rewire a house using YouTube tutorials, you can do the same to train your dog. Maybe your dog isn’t a puppy anymore and you know the familiar adage about old dogs and new tricks.

Well, let me share 5 reasons why you should train your dog.

Reason #1 to train your dog: Socialization

This is a common one but is so important that it’s worth mentioning again. In most cases, the best way to avoid having a skittish or aggressive dog is to well socialize them with other people and dogs. Group classes are a great way to socialize and train your dog.

No matter how many walks you take, nothing is as effective at socializing a young pup as spending an hour a week in a room with a dozen strange humans and 5 other dogs. You never know what you’re going to get with dogs on the street or at a dog park but in class you know your dog is having an opportunity to learn how to interact with others in a safe, supervised environment that will leave your dog feeling confident and interested in new things.

Reason #2 to train your dog: The Internet Is Not Enough

There are a LOT of experts on the internet with advice on how to train your dog… a LOT. In fact, there are so many that it can be overwhelming. Many have respectabletrain your dog so you can go hiking backgrounds, but all their advice doesn’t always line up; more often then not they actually contradict!

To crate or not to crate? For how long? What kind of collar? What do you teach first? How? Is dominance and submission a reliable philosophy or is it an outdated fallacy?

While some online and book sources will admit that not all dogs fit every rule, they don’t empower you with the tools to identify those exceptions and grey areas. Trainers certainly have their own philosophies and a good trainer will get to know you and your dog. Then they  will be able to identify when is time to try alternative techniques and methods that best fit your dog.

Reason #3 to train your dog: Old Dogs LIKE Learning New Tricks

Just like humans, a puppy’s growing brain is more elastic and learns things faster than an older dog; however, that doesn’t mean an adult dog can’t learn something new. Most often, the benefit of class for older dogs is not even about a specific new trick at all; it’s the process.

Also like humans, dogs get bored. If all they do is go on walks or play a 5 minute round of fetch in the backyard a new challenge can be fun and exciting for your dog. A lethargic or grumpy dog can become alert and energized while trying to work through new commands. The attention and reward the effort brings is incredibly valuable to a dog.

If you’ve adopted an adult dog who already knows the basics and you are trying to build a relationship, going to a tricks or agility class is a great place to start! Your dog may not come out jumping through hoops like a circus dog, but the process of working towards a goal together will help create that special bond that is a little easier to develop with a puppy.

Reason #4 to train your dog: It Is Cost Effective

train your dog to have a tired dogThe value of a well trained dog can’t be overstated. How many stories have you heard of dogs tearing through couch cushions, digging up rhododendrons or ruining carpets?

The one to two hundred dollars you’ll spend on decent training can save you literally thousands in home repairs or furniture replacement.

Even the most well trained dog can act out. A good trainer will help you be prepared to identify the causes of common behaviors. And they will provide you the tools to address the issue.

Maybe your dog chews when he’s bored, digs when anxious or is marking as part of an adolescent phase. A dog trainer is a resource that will guide you to activities, products and solutions that will keep you from going crazy and keep your furniture intact. A worthwhile investment!

**Bonus Points** Well behaved dogs are often welcome in friends and families homes. This means not needing to hire a sitter if you travel for the holidays.

**Double Bonus Points** Have you ever had difficulty looking for an affordable apartment that would accept your four legged friend? Some landlords will make exceptions if you introduce them to your well behaved dog!

Reason #5 to train your dog: It’s Not Just About The Dog

It’s about you.

If you know you want a well trained pet you may be tempted by ‘boot camp’ training options; send your dog away for 3 to 10 days and they come back knowing all the commands and completely compliant.

For some that may be the best option. However, the dog owner doesn’t have the opportunity to learn nearly as much that way. Going to class gives dog owners the opportunity to observe their dog compared to others, have discussion, and ask questions. You have the opportunity to watch how your dog responds differently to commands from the trainer. This gives you the chance to  experiment with varying tone and body language to most effectively communicate with your dog. You will see what other families are struggling with. This can help you gauge if a particular challenge is a common phase or a problem unique to you which requires extra attention.

If you have what you consider a tricky situation (kids at home, work full time, your new pet has complicated history) a trainer will be ready with suggestions for how to handle things specifically tailored for you and your family.

An experienced and certified trainer can guide you through what is important. They give you the tools and building blocks of responsible dog ownership that clears away the stress of trying to figure out the right things to do.

There is also the bond that is created by going through the effort alongside your pet. Class feels like a series of games and challenges for your dog. You playing alongside them helps to create an ever lasting bond and increase your dog’s innate trust in you.

All in all there is a lot that happens on many levels in an hour class; with a good trainer the humans will leave just as mentally exhausted as the dogs!

The truth is that training is not the magic bullet that reliably turns all dogs in to rock solid pups as well behaved as a seeing eye dog. However,  the process has as much value as the results.

After a series of classes my dog still doesn’t quite understand fetch. She isn’t always so keen on ‘drop it’. But I have no concern about bringing her to visit a friends’ house or sitting on a busy patio at a restaurant. My boss welcomes her to the office. My landlord accepted her at home. I can leave her to entertain herself with out worrying about returning to the trash strewn about. We go on off leash hikes and play soccer on the town fields. At the end of the day, she snuggles at my side before putting herself to bed.

Dogs can be great companions but they can also be incredibly frustrating. Making the effort to train your dog can help grow the kind of positive and rewarding relationship that make dogs so valuable in our lives.

Interested in private training lessons more your speed?

The author of this post is Pepper’s Paws client Courtney Beard. Courtney and her dog Charlotte completed private puppy training lessons, AKC S.T.A.R. Puppy class, Level 1 Manners, Level 2 Manners, Dog Tricks 101, and Out and About Obedience class with us. Courtney gave me this post as a thank you gift for helping her have the dog of her dreams. She would still be training with us if she had not moved out of the area. Courtney’s dedication to her dog is a pleasure to witness! Thank you Courtney for trusting us to teach you and your dog! 

Pepper’s Paws, LLC provides in home dog training for basic manners, behavior problems, and fear aggression in Rehoboth Beach, DE. We also offer Zoom dog training lessons for people who are not in our private lessons service area.

Head trainer Deb Murray, is Certified Canine Behavior Consultant (CBCC-KA) and Certified Professional Dog Training (CPDT-KA) by the Certification Council of Professional Dog Trainers, a Fear Free Certified Traineran AKC Evaluator, and a Distinguished Graduate and Mentor Trainer for the Catch Canine Academy.

House Training 101 for Dogs and Puppies!

House training is a key skill to master to be successful with their new dog or puppy. House training can be challenging, but it doesn’t have to be. We get asked about how to house train a dog a lot. Here are our key points to help you achieve house training success!

House training Secrets:

How to prevent house training accidents

– If you can’t keep your eyes on your dog crate him/her. He/she have a toy or bone while crated. Crating isn’t a punishment. Crating  is a way to manage the environment so the dog can’t make a mistake.house training success

– Confine your dog to the room you are in actively supervising them with crates or other barriers. Your dog should not be able to wander out of the room.

– Put your dog on a house training schedule – take him/her out every 2 hours – more often if she continues to have frequent accidents (every hour if your dog is younger than 12 weeks).

What do if your dog has a house training accident

– Do NOT yell, scold, punish or rub your dog’s face in their accident. Not only does NOT help your dog learn where to learn to go, it can cause setbacks in the house training process.

– Clean up all house training accidents with a cleaning product that is designed for dogs. We love Nature’s Miracle.

How to know when you dog needs to go

– When does your dog need to potty? After a training session of more than 10-15 minutes. When they have been playing vigorously. When they wake up from a nap.  20-30 minutes after eating.First thing in the morning and last thing at night.

–  Anytime your dog wanders away toward another room or an out of the way part of a room, assume your dog is looking for a place to go to potty. Call your dog back to you (and if he/she doesn’t come go get them). If it has been more than a hour since your dog’s last potty break (or if he/she tries to wander away more than once) say “let’s go outside! time to go potty” (or something similar that you will say every time she goes out for a potty break) and take her outside.

– If you see your dog start to walk in a circle, be overly sniffy on the rug or mat, start to squat or otherwise look like he/she is about to go – say “time to go potty!” in a happy and excited voice and head toward the door, calling him/her as you go. The more successes your dog has outside (and the fewer accidents inside) the more likely your dog will be to go outside to go potty.

Not going? Going inside right after going outside?

– Does your dog go out and pee and then come in and pee again? If so, give your dog time to pee twice before bringing him/her in.

– If you take your dog outside and you expect him/her to pee and/or poop and your dog doesn’t go, when you come back in put your dog immediately in the crate. Take him/her out again in 10-15 minutes. Do not allow your dog to walk around the house “full”, you will have a house training accident on your hands if you do.

Keep a House Training Log

– Keep a log of his/her bodily functions on paper where your family can see/add to it. Track day of the week, time of day, pee or poop. Track whether it was a success (done outside) or failure (done inside). Note who was supervising (or supposed to be supervising) the dog too. This log will give you a clear idea on whether housebreaking is working. It will also show who needs a refresher on what it means to “actively supervise” the dog. If you suspect your dog has a medical symptom that you need to share with your vet (i.e. my puppy pees a little bit 25 times per day) the log will show this.

Fine tuning the house training process

– As your dog starts to squat to pee say “go potty” or whatever you want to call it. Say this in a calm voice (almost like you sound bored – not excited and not reaching for a treat). As soon as your dog finishes the FIRST thing he/she does outside (first pee or first poop) – give your dog a super awesome treat right there as soon as he/she takes that first step after going. Don’t mess with treat bags or do anything to distract your dog from the task at hand so you don’t interrupt the process.

– Once your dog has the gist of house training, consider teaching him/her to ring a bell to go outside. There are pros and cons to doing this, which we will cover in a later post.

Need help with house training? Give us a call or email us!

Need more getting started tips? Check out our posts on how to Start Our Right with Your New Puppy

Starting the process to add a dog to your family and need some help understanding how rescues work? how to select a dog? how to get started on training? We have a service designed just for that!

Pepper’s Paws, LLC provides in home dog training for basic manners, behavior problems, and fear aggression in Rehoboth Beach, DE. We also offer Zoom dog training lessons for people who do not live in our private lessons service area.

Head trainer Deb Murray, is Certified Canine Behavior Consultant (CBCC-KA) and Certified Professional Dog Training (CPDT-KA) by the Certification Council of Professional Dog Trainers, a Fear Free Certified Traineran AKC Evaluator, and a Distinguished Graduate and Mentor Trainer for the Catch Canine Academy.