Last week I was at the first Home Dog Training session in Suwanee with a new client and his cute little puppy Bull Terrier named Gracie. Being a World War II buff, I had to remind him that General George Patton’s favorite dog breed was Bull Terrier. Well, Gracie was just a great puppy, full of energy and life. My client’s main concerns with Gracie were pottying, nipping, paying attention, jumping, and stealing things. We quickly got those items under control the very first session. As I was wrapping up, we began to plan for our next session. My client told me that he really wanted to be able to walk Gracie with him in public.
I told my client that we could definitely get Gracie and him to be a great “walking team”. Since Gracie was still only 13 weeks old, he shouldn’t expect her to be perfect and walk for long periods. What he could expect would be to have her understand the tools of walking, the general actions she must perform, and a feeling of safety when they were out and about.
I further explained that the process simply did not involve a leash and the word “heal” with a puppy. All these things were completely new to her and we needed to be sure we safely and consistently showed her everything she needed to do at the appropriate time and in the correct manner.
Although we had finished our lesson for that day (Gracie was tuckered out and sleeping on her doggie bed by the back sliding glass door), I wanted to explain the steps we would be working on over the next several lessons.
- The outside world is totally new and “foreign” to Gracie. She has never experienced things like Starbucks, The Promenade, Publix, Riverwalk, the local park, or a car ride. I told my client that he needed to take Gracie with him when he goes on short trips away from home. Being small and still not having all her shots, he should keep her in his arms or in a doggie carrier. The purpose of this is to socialize Gracie with the human world and build up a bond of safety between himself and Gracie.
- After a few weeks of “field trips” to the real world, he can start with some walking exercises. First he needs to socialize Gracie with the leash. He should simply snap it on her and let her walk around with it. In the same way we found wearing glasses annoying until we got used to them, Gracie will experience the same thing with the leash.
- After a few days, Gracie will become accustomed to the leash. Now my client can pick up the leash and gently guide her in a particular direction with him. He should not overly tug or pull her. If she is obstinate, he should go down low and encourage her to move with him by tapping his leg or calling her name.
- As Gracie starts wo move with him, he should start to change the movement of a few steps into a directional walk. The best place to start is a hallway with all the doors closed. There are no distractions and they both only can go one way.
- As he gets Gracie to walk down the hallway with him, I told him to turn and walk back.
- He should not be too concerned if Gracie is right by his side as if they were in a Dog Show. As long as Gracie was moving with him and staying on one side or the other, that was fine.
- As they continue the process back and forth in the hallway, he should start to stop and give a little flick of the leash to help Gracie stop with him.
- He should continue this process for another week or two. Again, as long as Gracie is relatively with him, that is all that matters.
- From the hallway, I told him to progress to walking around the family room, kitchen, living room, etc. The purpose of this is to remove the “you can only go one way” that they experienced in the hallway.
- Again, I emphasized that the walk did not have to be perfect and that Gracie didn’t have to stay exactly by his side. As long as she was moving with him, that was fine.
- I also told him that he should only practice the “walk with me” exercise/socialization in the house or their enclosed back yard. Until Gracie had all her shots and was a little larger, it was not prudent to take her on walks out where he was not totally in charge of the environment.
He then asked me why I was making the point that Gracie didn’t have to walk perfectly next to him. I explained that all this was new to her and if they could simply and calmly walk together, that would establish the bond of safety and lesson of consistent repetition. Once she was a little older, they would be ready for the rest of the world. The good news is that since he had already socialized her with the rest of the world and she already understood the concept of walking with him, the final lesson would be a breeze. That, I told him, was a subject for another day.
Please call us at (770) 718-7704 it you are in need of any dog training help. We have a lot of good dog training advice at Best Dog Trainers Suwanee Georgia. Find all our phone numbers, text addresses and email contacts at Dog Training Help Center Suwanee Georgia.