I was up with a Home Dog Training client in Canton last week working with his Rottweiler, Max. Max is a very well behaved dog and friendly with everybody. My client, Max, and I had been practicing outside walking and everything was going just fine. Max calmly walked by his side and he could easily correct and redirect him back if Max saw and wanted to play with other dogs/neighbors on walks. As we were finishing up for the day, his thirteen year old daughter came out and said she wanted to walk Max too. Being about one half the Rottweiler’s size, this could cause a problem if Max suddenly took off to play with a neighbor dog.
Many people believe that they cannot walk their large dog simply because the dog is large and frisky. What they don’t understand is if their dog is conditioned to respect and focus on them during a walk, the size of the dog or the person does not matter. The problem that we need to overcome is to maintain control during the teaching process where the dog will test (pull and lunge) and we must consistently correct. I have a little walking exercise that works great in this situation while providing complete safety for my human client.
- I told my client to place two leashes on Max. One leash is about six feet long (normal length) and the other leash is about twelve feet long. A twenty foot training lead with some of the slack removed works perfectly for this exercise.
- I gave his daughter the six foot leash. She was going to be in “the driver’s seat”. I wanted her to stand right next to Max.
- My client took the twenty foot lead and stood about ten to twelve feet behind his daughter and Max.
- I then provided them with some instructions before we began. His daughter would instruct Max to start walking and make sure he remained by her side. She would give the leash a slight tug as soon as she saw Max start to wander. Her father would walk behind them. If he saw any instance where Max was about to run or jump, he would correct Max with a hearty tug of the leash. He would also enhance any of his daughter’s corrections.
- Max would believe that all the corrections were coming from the thirteen year-old daughter and would see that he just couldn’t get away with anything from her. Since the father was staying back, out of Max’s perspective, all his actions would be perceived by Max as his daughter’s.
- Once properly briefed, we started the exercise. I asked my client’s daughter to give Max the “Walkies” command. Max began to walk right next to her.
- She would give Max a quick tug on the leash and a redirect back to her as soon as he would start to look away.
- As we rounded the corner, a neighbor and his dog appeared, approaching us on the other side of the street. My client gave a strong corrective redirection and Max snapped right back in line; thinking that the daughter had corrected.
- We continued the walk with several more corrections given by my client when Max started to get a little too adrenalized.
- By the end of the walk, Max gave the daughter complete focus and respect.
- I asked my client and his daughter to repeat this walking exercise every day.
- When my client did not need to enhance his daughter’s correction, he should simply walk behind them and let the longer leash drag on the ground. If things got out of hand, he could easily step on the leash and help regain control
- After a few days of dragging the long leash with my client walking behind them with no problem, they should remove the leash and my client should just walk behind them.
- My client can now slowly decrease the amount of times he walks behind Max and his daughter. Let them walk by themselves once every third day, then every second day, then all by themselves.
So, just because you might be small compared to your dog that is no excuse why you can’t have a pleasant and fun walk together.
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