My newest boarder, Kobe, has inspired my post today!
Working with other people’s dogs and SPCA dogs has given me an entirely different perspective on training!
I go back to basics with every single one of them. It all starts with the walk. I think if you train a dog to walk on HEEL, no less in the great big world of distractions (Squirrels, other beautiful pups and ohhh the smells!), you’re in a fantastic space with your furry friend.
My new friend Kobe did not walk on heel, he walked out in front of me when he first came to stay with us – pulling, tugging – smelling EVERYTHING. We’ve been working on this, and I am amazed at his progress! We went for a walk in a public park and he stayed on heel with me almost the entire way. I’m so proud of his accomplishments. Whether his mom keeps this up or not, I think it’s wonderful to show owners (and potential owners) what their dogs are capable of!
Kobe also had an aversion to the car. What I’ve found out is that it’s not an aversion so much as laziness on his part AND wonderful training of his humans. Smart move Kobe.
He would get his front feet in and then turn around to his human (or me) and say – “ok lift me in”. I laughed the first time I saw it. This is what my Newton would do as well. He had me trained down pat too!
With a new outlook, I thought – “let’s see what he can do”. I repositioned the lead to pulling up just slightly, pointed and said “up”. He jumped in the back seat without issues – and was awarded with affection and LOTS of praise! Then he did it again, and again, and again…
I must confess my training with the SPCA has helped me tremendously. However, I’d also like to bring up somewhat of a controversial topic in training – Cesar Milan. Some of you love him, some of you hate him. Regardless of how you may feel about his training techniques – I’ve used some of them (below) with my new friend Kobe with AMAZING results.
– Maintaining a calm and assertive energy – this is the hard one.
– No rewarding unless the dog is in a calm and submissive state
– Practicing expectations and boundaries consistently every day.
More importantly, his theory that it all starts with the walk.
A walk can be a beautiful experience, marred too many times by frustration at dogs’ pulling, lunging and non stop tugging. We do a lot of our training after exerting Kobe’s energy on our hour long walk. He’s a nervous dog, so this has worked well for him. However, the walk is training too, and it starts by ensuring he’s calm when we put the leash on him (The first time – this took almost 20 mins), then we walk out the door first, followed by Kobe.
All basics, that I sometimes forget how important they are – it starts at the beginning. A few simple reminders for Kobe to walk beside, not in front and we’re off!
I found this video by Nigel Reed also helpful – It teaches step by step how to teach a dog to walk on heel. I’ve used the “Start, stop and change direction” technique many times – it works people!
I found after practicing some of Cesar’s techniques on the walk, Kobe gave me more respect with his other training. He’s extremely smart, thus should only be reminded once of his boundaries. Kobe had some bad habits, which is fine if his owner doesn’t mind them. In my house, it’s not ok. There are rules that all our furry friends and visitors must abide by.
Further evidence that I’ve seen of Cesar’s training techniques working is from my sister.
My sister has had aggression issues between her two Great Pyrenees. They get nervous when someone visits the house, which leads to aggression between them. Cesar’s tip for people entering the house – no touch, no talk, no eye contact to the dogs has been one that has worked remarkable for her, and for her dogs. They do not get as excitable, which doesn’t escalate to an aggressive state of mind.
I love learning from our canine friends! Training them teaches me patience and consistency, which is always a great reminder to take with us wherever we walk next in life.
Further, teaching the canine basics has given me a purpose with dogs again. It’s been a long road in the last 3 months, and this gives me something to look forward to. Hanging with dogs for me is soothing for the soul. I’ve been bringing family members and friends on my dog walking excursions to the SPCA. Every time – they leave with smiles and excited conversations of a great day spent. If your stressed with life, go play with some puppies or even better – calm yourself down (never approach a dog with anger) and see if you’re able to take a rescue dog for a walk!
Thanks for reading,
ps – My friend Miss Harper Lee reminded me that dogs are generally happy go lucky and want to please. I agree!! I think this is the perfect example of how humans usually need the training! I just checked out my Milanisms -I noted all things I need to do 🙂 After all, dogs already know how to walk – we just have to learn how to walk them.