I was at a Home Dog Training client in Lawrenceville a week or two ago. I had first worked with him and his Black and Tan Coonhound, George, several months ago. At that time, the main issues for George were his constant jumping, annoying nipping, always running out the door, and general obedience commands. All those issues were now completely resolved.
The new issue that my client had with George was walking. We hadn’t addressed that before and my client thought it best that I return to help. I quickly discovered that although George could walk on a leash, he liked to stop in the middle of the walk, sit down in the middle of the sidewalk, and proclaim “That’s it for me!”. No matter what my client tried, it always became a massive tug-of-war to start walking again. This caused my client to stop walking George even though he loved getting out into the neighborhood.
Having dogs do the “sit and don’t move” trick in the middle of a walk can be a constant torment for many dog owners. To let you in on a little secret, I had no idea how to easily resolve this issue when I began training dogs over 17 years ago. After many failed attempts to solve this annoying and embarrassing act of “stubborn defiance”, I stumbled across a solution that always works. I had discovered the technique to get our tenacious dog off their rear end and on with our walk.
The blunder that we make when our dog sits and decides not to move is to get mad, become agitated, begin yelling, and start yanking on the leash. All this “hyper-activity” on our part sends a message to our dog that it could be time to play a nice game of tug-of-war. We are pulling on the leash and all dogs love to play tug-of-war. It is a common, dominance game that all dogs love to play and we just sent him an invitation.
Our dog gets excited because he loves to play the game. By sitting, he has already assumed a dominant position and has taken “his stance”. As we pull on the leash thinking he will calmly get up and walk with us, he holds his position with even more vigor. The more we pull, the more he stays. He is having a wonderful time and we are just becoming more and more disturbed. As you can see, we are going down the wrong rabbit hole.
The correct solution must focus on our finding a peaceful and quiet way to get our dog back on his feet and back on the walk. Recall when we were kids and were playing tug-of-war with our friends? We would pull and they would pull. It almost always ended in a stalemate. Sometimes one side decided to “play a little trick” on the other side. All of a sudden, they would let go of the rope and the other side would go crashing to the ground. We are going to use this same concept with our dog. In our case, instead of “crashing to the ground”, we want him to “get up and walk”.
It is obvious that we will never win by just pulling. We need to fool our dog through our actions in such a way that he will actually stand up and walk. Through our actions, we are going to have our dog “do the wrong thing” and get up all by himself. There are two things we need to understand:
- Our dog believes he is playing tug of war.
- (Optimistically) We are smarter than our dog.
To put his into practice, we must go on a walk with our dog. Hopefully, he will be a nudge and defiantly sit down in the middle of the walk. Instead of “playing his game”, we will be ready to implement a new and highly successful plan. This is what we must do when he rebelliously sits:
- Calmly start to pull on the leash so that he is pulling back.
- Rapidly move around him in different directions, crouching down low and giving quick jerks on the leash.
- As soon as you give him three or four quick tugs at one location, randomly move to another spot, stoop down, and give him another three or four quick tugs. It is critical that you remain very calm during this entire process.
- What you are doing is to get him off balanced. Your quick and unpredictable actions will eventually result in his pushing towards you as you are tugging on the leash.
- Within about 30 seconds of your random movements and tugs around your dog, you will step into a position where your dog will be pulling in the same direction you are tugging. This will cause him to instantly “get up”.
- Once you see that he is up and on his feet, immediately start walking him in that direction. Before he knows what has happened, you are back on the walk. His little game has ended and you “calmly won”.
George still tried to do his “sit and don’t move” trick once or twice on the walk, but each time my client could easily get him up and walking again. I followed up with my client about a week later and he told me that George no longer does his “stop and sit” tricks on their walk.
Please call Robin or me at (770) 718-7704 if you need any dog training help. We are blessed to have been your local dog training professionals for over seventeen years. We have trained over 5,000 great dogs and loving families and are ready to help you.