By Joan Hunter Mayer
Summertime in Santa Barbara! It’s lovely – and for some time when our minds are on unleashing outdoor adventures and having fun with our BFFs, these are the best furry friends! But wait. Before you lace those shoes and put your dog on a leash for all of our great county deals, take a minute to read some of our tips for dog training professionals. Whether you’re working on Come When Called, Loose Leash Walking, or Leave It, our approach to dog love will help keep your dog safe while they have tons of fun in the sun this summer!
Pro Tips to Help Your Dog Learn How He Comes When He Is Called
In dog training, as in comedy, timing is everything. Think about it. When calling your puppy around, especially in stimulating outdoor environments, ask him to stop what he is doing and leave all sorts of scents, adventures, and possible new friendships behind. The fun time is over. He probably sees it as a punishment. So, instead of waiting to get out of the park to ask your pup to come over to you, practice regularly calling him out and then releasing him to resume the fun! Then when you do have to go just get your dog so you don’t ruin your recall.
Another important note about timing, if you want your dog to answer, only give them a call when you are ready to wager a hundred dollars and they will answer. Then enter the keyword once. Repeated calling just teaches him that it’s okay to ignore you the first few times.
Paws and reflect. Take a moment to look at things from a dog’s point of view. Exploration and cleaning up are normal dog behaviors, after all! There is a lot to be asked of them to consistently maintain self-control and bulletproof training on exciting or unfamiliar things. Help your buddy by setting up the stage so he’s likely to want to come over to you no matter what else is going on. When you call him, you attract him by offering a much more attractive alternative to what he’s doing. More on this below.
Be the life of the party! Make your body language and tone of voice joyful and enthusiastic.
Send the message that he’s the most wonderful puppy in the world and that you are his number one cheerleader! That way, he’ll associate running as a lot of fun for you, as opposed to a signal that game time is over. Stick to the cute little nicknames and happy voice so your dog will happily come back to you when you call him.
Remember, you could be up against Doggy Disneyland. Think creatively about how to be the best motivator for your best friend. Food is a powerful motivator. And so is the game! What games does your pooch absolutely love? To fetch? Chase? Tractor? A combination of these? Playing games that he thinks are fun can motivate him to stop what he is doing and join you. Plus, games consume his energy while enhancing the bond you share. Kind of perfect, right?
If you follow a few Come When Called (or Recall) guidelines and do many, many hours of practice, it is safe to encourage your dog to “take your call.” Just remember to stay paw sensitive and curious and enjoy this time with your canine buddy!
A Walk In The Park – Pro Tips For Walking On A Leash
Walk a mile in his paws. Make sure the leash is used as a safety leash and not to control your dog. Try not to pull or pull on your dog. Would you like it if someone did this to you? With this in mind, avoid using devices such as chokes, prongs, or electronic collars. These tools use pain and punishment to reduce behaviors, but they don’t tell dogs what to do, just what not to do. The techniques used there can lead to increased fear, behavior problems and a wounded human-dog bond. Basically the opposite of anything we work towards when we go on adventures together. Be your dog’s hero and opt for proven, humane, and effortless techniques that are rewarding for both pets and guardians.
Strengthen your bond. To get the most joy and connection out of your walks together, keep the treats, petting, and praise! If your dog knows a “Watch Me” cue (eye contact with you), you can intermittently bring up and reward them as they walk, and teach your pup to get in touch with you. Frequent rewards will motivate your dog to stay interested rather than wandering to the end of the leash and looking for something else. Novelty is key, so vary what you offer (and even what you ask for) to keep them curious and engaged with you.
Be proactive to curb reactive behavior. When you and your canine buddy are struggling with leash manners, do your best to resolve any underlying issues. It is helpful to think about why your dog might be pulling or falling. Is Fido frustrated, scared, anxious, is he experiencing overexcitation or is he releasing pent-up energy? Does Fido get enough mental and physical exercise between walks? How can you help him
Finally, a few comments on the Leave It Cue
The key here is a heaping helping of praise with an ancillary to environmental management. According to the laws of learning, animals repeat behaviors that are reinforced. So make a habit of rewarding Fido for ignoring temptations like summer grills and drips, furry animals, and things with wheels. Suppose you see your dog walking past a “prohibited item” and decide to stay away from it. Regardless of whether you asked him to stay away or not, say “thank you” for everything that motivates him – a very special treat, an exciting game time or a lot of stomach ache. You know what amplifies your fur child. Do not hold back. Be generous!
Prepare yourself and your dog for success. While a strong mastery of the Leave It hint can be a literal lifesaver, a focus on prevention and management are essential first steps. If possible, keep your dog’s environment as safe as possible and watch your pet closely. Depending on your plans, you might be asking, “Is the friendliest, safest option to make other arrangements, such as a dog daycare or a puppy play date?”
When your pup comes to you this summer when you go to the beach, hit the trails, or visit friends, remember to keep the excitement, praise, and love going. We hope these tips will help you have many wonderful adventures together!
The Inquisitive Canine was founded by Santa Barbara, canine behavior consultant and certified professional dog trainer Joan Hunter Mayer. Joan and her team strive to provide humane, paw sensitive and practical solutions that are appropriate to the challenges dogs and their people face in everyday life. This is about barking with the dogs, cheering people on and having fun!