|Posted on April 27, 2012 at 8:10 PM|
I bravely set out yesterday with a trio of terrors - er, terriers. They were all bundles of energy and eargerness! I committed to help them learn a more suitable - and more comfortable! - walking style. I shortened up their leashes, and kept them close for better leverage and improved response time. Each time they pulled enough to put tension on the leashes, I stopped. I then waited, often calling their names to help them redirect their focus. When slack was returned to the leads, it was accompanied by verbal praise and smiles from me, and rewarded with the continuation of our walk - albeit briefly, before the next halting and waiting.
It is important that dogs NOT learn that pulling gets them to where they want to go and that it, in fact, actually slows or stops the forward motion. Sometimes, I even pulled them back toward me, as I walked backward a few paces, and then switched back to the forward direction, praising them for being near to me, on loose lines.
It is also important that dogs recieve feedback - POSITIVE, as well as negative - on a regular, if not constant, basis. Just telling them what NOT to do, doesn't inform them on what you DO want them to be doing, and is therefore an incomplete and unproductive message. Some dogs are eager to please, and find the praise alone rewarding, while others will prioritize your pleasure somewhat lower, but will still benefit from the communication, and will be more willing to work with you when they have a better understanding of your plan.
The one out of those three that I've been working with all week is showing impressive improvement.