BIG SKY DOG TRAINING

Develop an optimal relationship with your dog


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How to Walk The Excited Dog – Five Things to Dog Before You Head Out the Door

Re-print from Whole Dog Journal, 10/26/2019


You contemplate taking your dog for a walk with mixed emotions. You love the idea of going for a stroll through the neighborhood together, but it’s a major hassle to get out the door. When you pick up his leash he becomes the Tasmanian Devil – body slamming you, racing around the foyer, and bouncing off the glass door with such intensity you’re afraid he’ll crash right through it. Here are five suggestions for creating the enjoyable outing you dream of.


(1) Exercise first. Spend 15-20 minutes tossing a ball for your dog in the backyard, or providing intense mental exercise with a heavy duty shaping session. You’ll take the edge off his excitement, reduce his energy level, and make leashing-up and walking more relaxed and enjoyable for both of you.

(2) Teach him to “Say please.” Reinforce your dog’s “sit” behavior so thoroughly that “sit” becomes his default behavior – the behavior he chooses to offer when he doesn’t know what else to do. Then wait for him to sit (say “please”) to make all good things happen: sit for his dinner bowl; sit to be petted; sit for you to throw his ball; sit to have his leash put on; and sit to make the door open.

(3) Pick up his leash throughout the day. He gets amped up when you touch his leash because it always means the two of you are going for a walk. Of course he gets excited! If you pick up his leash numerous times throughout the day, sometimes
draping it over your neck and wearing it for a while, sometimes carrying it from room to room, sometimes picking it up and putting it back down, sometimes clipping it on his collar and then unclipping it, the leash will no longer be a reliable predictor of walks, and he won’t have any reason to get all excited about it. Note: This will take a while. Hope springs eternal in the canine heart.

(4) Use negative punishment. No, we don’t mean a bonk on the head. It means setting up the situation so that doing the behavior you don’t want causes a good thing to go away. Here’s how it would work in this case: If, when you pick up the leash, he goes bonkers (the behavior you don’t want), say “Oops!” in a cheerful tone of voice (what’s known as a “no reward marker,” it simply tells him no reward is forthcoming), set the leash down, and walk away. When he settles down, pick the leash up again. If he sits (say please!), proceed with attaching the leash and going for a walk. If he winds up again, do another “Oops!” and set the leash down. You’re teaching him that getting excited makes the opportunity for a walk go away; staying calm makes walks happen.

(5) Reduce the significance of other “walk cues.” Other things you do as part of your walk preparation routine can also feed his energy – getting out treats, putting on your jacket, grabbing your cell phone and keys . . . The more you randomize your ritual, the less these steps contribute to his growing excitement over the pending event, and the calmer he’ll stay as you leash him and walk out the door. For example, put your keys and cell phone in your jacket pocket before you eat breakfast. Happy walking!

For more tips on turning your dog into a more pleasant walking companion, check out Whole Dog Journal’s Walking Your Dog ebook.


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Demonstrate Leadership…Don’t Be A Dominant Alpha Or Yeller

Featured image Let’s throw away the saying, “I have to be the Alpha of the pack.” First of all, when you bring a puppy or dog into your home, they become part of your family, not part of a pack. A pack of dogs are dogs that are unrelated and usually means 3 or more animals together. Like at the dog park.

Leadership is one of the most forward-thinking training procedures you can use on your puppy or dog. I am using Leadership in this instance to mean setting boundaries, both physical and behavioral. You wouldn’t let your young child decide what time to go to bed, or let them decide what time to eat, so why do that with your puppy and/or dog?

You don’t need to yell…yelling can aggravate the situation by bring more stress into the situation. If you don’t want the dog to beg at the dining room table during meal times, put the dog away during those times (i.e., crate or tether it). If you don’t want the dog to jump on you and your friends, then don’t let him/her do it when they are a puppy.

Physical boundaries relate to where your puppy or dog can physically go in your home and outside, depending on the dog’s age. Discuss these with your family:

  • Can the dog be up on the furniture?
  • Can the dog beg for food at the the dining or kitchen table?
  • Can the puppy have free run of the house? If not, what room(s) can he have access to?
  • Should the dog wait at the door before being let out?

Behavior boundaries relate to what behaviors are okay for your puppy or dog. Again, discussion with your family leads to compliance from everyone in the family, even the dog.

  • Can the dog jump on you?
  • Can the dog bite you or your clothing?
  • Do you want the dog licking you or your friends excessively? (Do you really believe a dog’s mouth is clean? Not!)
  • Is the dog allowed to pull on the lease?
  • Can the dog chase small animals? (My fear is of skunks!)

Give me a call and we can discuss way to avoid pitfalls and get you on the right track.


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Do’s And Don’ts For Effective Training – AKC

You can teach your dog to do many different things, but there are a few general guidelines that will help make sure your training goes well. The American Kennel Club’s (AKC®) Canine Good Citizen® Director Mary Burch offers the top tips for effectively training your four-legged friend.

Do reward behaviors you like. Observe carefully when training your dog and reward the behaviors that you’d like him to continue. Treats, toys, and your attention are great rewards and can eventually be phased out and replaced with praise.

Do manage the environment. When training your dog, managing his environment will help him succeed and not do something that you don’t like. If you keep your shoes in the closet, your dog can’t make a snack out of them.

Don’t reinforce behaviors you don’t like. Reinforcing behaviors you don’t like is very common, and you might not even realize you’re doing it. Petting and playing with a puppy that jumps on you when you enter the room will more likely than not ensure that he’ll continue jumping on people because you’re giving him the attention he wants. Instead, wait until he’s not jumping on you to pet him.

Don’t forget about exercise. Exercise plays a critical role in preventing many behavior problems. Exercise also helps to relax your dog so he can pay more attention to you during training.