I was over in Decatur last week with a new Home Dog Training client and his German Shepherd named Axel.  I love Shepherds and have a female at home with my six other dogs.  Needles to say, I really enjoyed working with Axel.  He responded very quickly to my client’s new behavior rules and was a fast learner when it came to the classic “come/sit/stay”.  We were then ready to turn to outside walking on a leash.  My client told me that Axel was just a crazy dog whenever they went for a walk and that he could barely get the leash on him while they were still in the house.  He told me that he felt he had no control even before the walk started…  

I told my client that we needed to look at the root cause of the crazy walking problem and will then be able to resolve it quickly.  Our dogs get all excited about the walkies because we have built up the moment with predictable anticipation.  They are always going to go nuts when we open the door and, of course, they are going to dash through the doorway and pull us down the streets! 

What we must do is to manage the situation at the cause.  We must do two things to keep control of walking our dog:

Remove the association of “leash means walkies”. Dogs learn by “1+1=2”.  Every time our dog sees the leash, it has meant he is going for a walk.  Youzzer!  He gets all excited and runs all around the house in crazy anticipation of the great time to happen.  We then get crazy and mad and chase after him.  Can you say “adrenaline rush for your dog”?

We must break the “1+1=2”.  Start putting the leash on your dog at odd times during day for no reason at all.  Put it on and watch TV. Click it off and then put it on later.  This will take the “leash means walkies” association away.  Your dog will no longer go crazy when he sees the leash because it really doesn’t have a clear meaning any more.

You now have the ability to prepare for the walk where you can maintain your dog’s clear and respectful focus.  You are ready to continue teaching

Always go through the front door first. Starting a walk is not the begin of a race.  Your dog must submit so you can calmly step through the front door while he politely waits for your permission to come with you.  Here is what you do:

  • With the leash on your dog, go to the door and put him in a “Sit”. 
  • Open the door and tell him to “Wait”.
  • Always face him.  This is a body language “code” for leadership and focus.
  • Calmly step back through the front door to the outside while he remains inside.
  • Issue the “Release” command to allow him to calmly walk outside to your side.
  • Have your dog “Sit” outside the front door.  Check the surroundings to make sure all is safe.  You are now ready to start a calm and focused walk.

What you are trying to accomplish from this exercise is to start the walk calmly.  There may be other things on the walk that could cause issues, but you are starting from a calm situation.  This gives you the upper hand in maintaining focus and leadership.

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 experts for over fourteen years.  We have trained over 5,000 great dogs and loving families and are ready to help you.