Karen Wild is an APBC registered behaviourist and qualified dog trainer with 20 years experience. Her practice ‘Pawprint’ offers behaviour referrals for vet practices and puppy classes in the local area. Karen is a training and behaviour contributor for Dogs Today magazine and author of ‘What your Dog Wants’. To find out more visit www.karenwild.co.uk or call 01778 560465.
When out with your dog, are you using his lead for everything? Has his lead become an encouragement, a reminder, a nag, a brake and heaven forbid but it happens, although never in my classes, a sharp punisher? Hand signals painstakingly taught, and command words fade in favour of ‘lead - lead – lead’.
It’s as easy as ‘think ahead - signal - manoeuvre’. Yes that’s right, dog driving lessons!
Anticipation is key to control. Think a few steps ahead of your dog, and use commands to pre-empt and direct.
Whether you use your voice, or a hand signal or body gesture, don’t neglect it.
That is what your dog is looking for (and very good he is at doing so, too). Someone’s coming? Ask your dog to sit. Dog spots a rabbit on the horizon? Step back and call him to you. With a trained command, your dog can then choose to follow, and hopefully succeed - without you needing to use that lead.
If for some reason he doesn’t act on your instruction, you need more practice. Don’t panic or get cross. You may need to use the lead to move him away from a tempting fox-poo roll, or to break his eye contact with a staring dog. Use the lead to back up your previous instructions. Call your dog, and if he doesn’t follow you, step back and steer him closer.
When you use the lead to move your dog, be gentle. Never lift, choke or yank your dog! Steer him away in a circling movement by dropping your hand lower, shortening the lead, and guiding him so that he is led from the side of his neck.