Pleasurable Walking Companions
How you move in this test will not be evaluated the way you may think. Your evaluator will be looking for a dog and handler who are walking together. In other words, the dog is not leading you.
The second criteria for passing this test is to demonstrate that your dog can walk beside you without you restraining him in that position. This means the leash will be loose and your dog will not be charging ahead, taking up that slack, dragging you along.
The key here is that Fido has learned in his training that you are leading the walk. You turn left; Fido follows. You stop; Fido stops. You get the idea.
We've all seen dogs that wanted to charge ahead and drag their owners along behind. This scenario is not hopeless, and doesn't have to be dealt with using choke chains or other collars that can be dangerous when used improperly.
Let me be clear. There are a ton of collar and leash methods and tools out there that can cause damage to your dog's trachea, neck or snout. Most can be used safely if the handler has been properly instructed. That's where the problem lies. When you go to the pet shop to purchase a new training collar, generally the salesperson is not a trainer. So there you are making a decision about your dog's training based on what you already know, as well as what you don't know. It's a common problem.
So here's my tip for this problem. Forget all the special collars unless you are working with a trainer who uses positive methods and can analyse your needs.
For now, as you prepare for the CGC, let Fido know you are totally and completely in charge of the walk with your actions. He'll get this message pretty quickly. Here's the drill:
At the door, have your dog sit as you walk out first. This establishes your new initiative: "I'm taking the lead." When your dog begins to walk ahead and/or pulls, stop dead in your tracks. No need to correct your dog. Just wait. After a few seconds or even minutes, if he doesn't return to your side, call him there and give a gentle tug on the leash. Indicate what you want.
Repeat this process for your entire walk. Fido will eventually realize you don't intend to walk until and unless he is beside you. No corrections, no scolding, no pain. This is results oriented training and believe me, your dog will get the message quickly if you maintain this program without changing gears.
Continue this for as long as it takes to get the message across. Many dogs respond nearly immediately but regress with each new walk, until you go through the drill quite a few times. Soon it will become habit and you'll rarely have issues.
Other dogs may require a month of walks before they finally get the picture. You'll get a light bulb moment one day and suddenly your sled dog will become a walking companion. What a joy that day will be. Mark it on your calendar and celebrate it each year :)
Preparing for test day: Be sure that you take a nice long walk before the test--long enough to adequately diminish Fido's energy level. A less energetic pup will be more likely to perform this skill as required, walking beside or slightly behind you without pulling. When you and your dog finally reach this agreeable walking arrangement, you will both find more pleasure in this time together. Relish it for the bonding that it is.
Please note that our Weekly Wag's quarterly drawing will occur on July 1. Entries are made by comment about your Weekly Wag experiences at the inaugural post. You will find it easily by clicking on the Weekly Wag button. Good luck!
This post is part of the Saturday Pet Blogger Hop hosted by Life with Dogs, Two Little Cavaliers, and Confessions of the Plume. You are welcome to link up here, or check any of their sites for their rules of participation. Happy hopping!