Walking nicely is a life skill that when missing can negatively impact the human-canine relationship resulting in fewer walks, less exercise and a decrease in social exposure.
Whether legislation dictates that a pet dog guardian cannot leave home without leashing the dog or a guardian has the freedom of access to lots of off-leash areas, walking a dog on leash can offer lots of benefits. Leashes provide information and they offer guidance. The leash provides boundaries and helps the dog understand how far he can wander, thus keeping everyone safe. The leash adds an extra layer of insurance preventing such behaviors as dashing out of the door into the street; pulling away to get to another dog or person; chasing bicycles, cats, squirrels…
Good leash skills not only help the dog to pay attention to the leash, focus on the handler and seek out reinforcement, they also lead to an increase in walks and the pleasure derived from those walks. The relationship between the dog and handler is strengthened and the skills learned have a positive effect on other aspects of the dog’s training and family life!
Condition it well!
Previous learning history could mean that the dog (or other species) associates the leash with pulling to move forwards, with confusion or even with punishment. The leash may have become a poisoned cue. Whether just starting out with a puppy’s leash skills or working on an older dog’s ‘problematical’ leash behaviors/a poisoned cue, respondent conditioning should be employed to engender a positive emotional response to all aspects of walking on leash and to teach the learner to associate the leash with a feeling of joy. Here is a short list of some of the stimuli we recommend you condition:
- The sight of a collar, leash, harness
- The sound of the clasps
- Wearing of the collar/harness (the conditioning should be ‘micro-sliced’)
- The weight of the leash fastened to the collar/harness (please note our preference is for a non-restrictive harness)
- The feeling of dragging the leash
- The feeling of standing on a loose leash (while the leash is being held).
Micro-slicing Leash Walking
When teaching good leash skills, handlers should put the foundations in place so that they are in a good place to start working towards the goal behavior. We never usually start with the goal so why would leash walking be any different? Endeavour to use constructional learning and a step-by-step approach to learning how to Walk This Way.
The Leash is Full of Cues
Here are a few examples of some of the cues that come from the leash and what they mean:
- Pulling on the leash results in the handler standing firm with the leash. This is information. It means ‘try something else’.
- Light pressure (caused by dog moving away) is something to move into, not pull away from. It means that if the dog moves towards the handler, a click and a treat is on the way!
- Loosening of the leash (learner moving in) communicates to the learner that they are doing the right thing. Click and reinforce!
- Stroking of the leash (a slight vibration) means redirect focus towards the handler, a click and a treat is on the way!
The leash is a positive cue that leads to positive reinforcement!
Teach and Test
Set up puzzle moments to test understanding of the skills you have taught. For example: Gently stroke the leash causing a slight vibration. Can the learner solve the puzzle and work out what to do to gain reinforcement? The learner moves towards the handler, click and reinforce! The learner strains on the leash? Reduce the criteria, there is more teaching to do – the learner was unable to solve the puzzle.
Add the Walk This Way Instructor Program to Your Business Services
Teaching a client to teach their dog to walk nicely is one of the skills that is so often not fully mastered in a group class curriculum when trained alongside the other important pet dog skills such as come, stay, off, take, sit, down etc. DogNostics developed the Walk This Way workshop options to support you, supporting and educating clients and pet dogs in your community.
The Walk This Way program is a complete professional trainer’s workshop, available in three package options. Each package option is fully flexible and can be used as a workshop, for private appointments or to support a group class curriculum.
- · Level One: Walk This Way Comprehensive Skills, Knowledge and Proofing Workshop
- · Level Two: Walk This Way Practical Skills Workshop
- · Level Three: Walk This Way Proofing Games Workshop
If you would like to learn more about the Walk This Way Program, please go to www.dognosticscareercenter.com for more information.
Attend a 2-Day Walk This Way Workshop & Qualify as a Walk This Way Instructor
Register for the “Walk This Way” 2-Day Instructor Certification Workshop with Louise Stapleton-Frappell and Niki Tudge
- Working Spots & Auditor Spots Available
- When: Begins 22 Oct 2018 9:00 AM, EDT. Ends 23 Oct 4:30 PM, EDT
- Where: 9122 Kenton Road, Wesley Chapel, Florida
During this two day workshop, we will cover the skills and knowledge that you need to successfully run ‘Walk This Way’ group or private classes and workshops, thus increasing your service offerings and business revenue! We will guide you through the Walk This Way curriculum, sharing the tools that you need to effectively and positively teach your clients the skills required to make walking their dogs the pleasure it should be. We will not however, just share the requisite skills for teaching dogs to walk nicely on leash, we will also show you how to transfer the knowledge and skills that you learn to a group class setting, as well as sharing the core concepts of On Task Skill Coaching for pet professionals with you!
The knowledge you gain in this workshop can be applied across all your service offerings from group to private classes and will help you to differentiate your business from your competition. You will leave the workshop ready to launch new service offerings thus increasing your business revenue by fulfilling a demand for the one thing all dog guardians want – dogs who happily walk nicely when on leash.
The workshop will culminate in the opportunity for you to gain your professional ‘Walk This Way’ Instructor Certificate! More information and online registration can be found here: https://www.dognosticscareercenter.com/event-2827090