Loose leash walking in real life

Hi everyone!

I recently shot a video of me walking Zoey in her neighborhood. It’s a crash course in how to do loose leash walking with a dog that is easily distracted.

Keep in mind that, before this video was shot, Zoey and I did some practice with her name recognition and eye contact to build a foundation of paying attention to me. We also practiced loose leash walking in her house and backyard before taking it out into the world so we’d be more successful.

Happy training and please contact me if you need help with your dog’s leash training!

Getting your dog’s attention

One of the most important foundational skills you can teach your dog is to respond to her name. I always start this process by saying the dog’s name in a way that will motivate her to turn her head to me. (Most times this is best done by saying her name in an appealing, more high-pitched tone.)

As soon as her head turns, I will click my clicker and then give a treat.

Over many times and repetitions, in different environments, this will teach my dog that no matter what, when or where, turning her attention to me when I say her name is very rewarding. I can also change the way in which I say her name and add more distractions over time as she shows the ability to give me that head turn.

Watch how I do this with Zoey in this video:

This simple exercise can lead to a dog making a positive association with her name and will help you get your timing for marker training in place before moving on to more difficult and/or complex behaviors.

I’d love to help you work with your dog on foundations so contact me today!

Help! My puppy bites her leash

Lots of people have been adding new puppies to their homes in this time of COVID-19, and the excitable mouthiness and jumpiness are always of concern for them! It’s perfectly normal for puppies to be crazy at times but to cope with it can be challenging. One behavior that is common and challenging for new puppy owners is when a puppy bites on her leash. How can we address this?

Photo courtesy of Laura Dudgeon Ornelas

First, it’s important to lay a foundation for reinforcing calm behaviors. Click and treat for your dog’s ability to sit and look at you calmly as often as possible in as many different situations as possible. “Capture” those moments of lying peacefully beside you by telling her she’s good, and treating for it. Being relaxed, calm and having focus on you should be rewarded highly and often!

This video from Emily Larlham of Kikopup is a GREAT way to positively teach your dog how to be calm around a leash, and I really love this method!

Another method is to put two leashes on the dog; when the dog bites at the one you’re using, drop it and pick up the other. If you’re continually NOT participating in the game of “tug” that would ensue with a single leash, ignoring her attempts, it will cut off the reinforcement the biting is allowing her. Also work on teaching “drop it” and “leave it” cues as these can be used to get her to drop the leash as well as leave it alone.

You can also teach her to carry something else in her mouth on walks; this works very well with retrievers. Using a toy she likes, encourage her to hold it in his mouth. Don’t use treats as this may encourage her to drop the toy! Instead, use petting and praise, and gradually build on the time she can hold it to lengthen her ability to hold it while on walks.

Remember, when your dog is like this, it signals a need to chew or tug, so provide appropriate outlets for these needs, like plenty of chew toys, stuffed Kongs, and tug play before and/or after walks with her. If the dog doesn’t want to let go of the tug toy, you can trade a treat to get her to drop it, and this tug play can actually help you teach a good drop it cue! Tiring her out before walks on leash can also help with the problem; do some trick training or simple basic obedience cues training for a few minutes before the walk.

Lastly, you can opt to use a bitter apple spray on your leash, or use a chain leash, as these won’t be appealing for the dog to bite. These aren’t my favorite methods, as they are technically positive punishment-based, and don’t teach the dog an alternate behavior. Chain leashes can also be very uncomfortable for you to hold.

An alternative to a chain leash would be to use a choke chain (NEVER as a collar/walking tool, please!): using a carabiner, attach one end of the choke chain to the dog’s harness or flat collar. Attach the leash to the other end of the choke chain. Now the choke chain is part of the leash, on the end closest to the dog, where she bites. Again, using unpleasant deterrents is not my favorite method; I highly recommend opting teaching alternative behaviors you want, in addition to providing regular outlets to curb the problem instead.

I have a lot of puppy classes to choose from so contact me today to get started!

Clicker training mechanics

Recently I shot a video with the help of my terrific niece, Charisma, on how clicker training works. Using a clicker is an effective way to communicate with your dog what you want him or her to do. By using it or a verbal marker like YES to indicate the behavior you want, and always following this marker with a treat, you can teach your dog what works and reinforce behaviors you want! Check it out below.

There is beauty all around us

A little over a month ago, the dogs and I lightened our load, got packed up, and moved across the country to return to my home state, Kentucky.

It hurts my heart to leave Colorado, as I’ve lived there most of my adult life and have a real passion for the mountains there. So many great friends, great memories, and dogs I’ve trained…but taking a leap to come back here, be and reconnect with my family, and take the time to think about my goals in life, has been a very good, if not up-and-down, process.

Hidalgo and Jasper pose on one of Kentucky’s beautiful stone fences

We have been taking our time to explore the beauty that surrounds us as I plan out the services and offerings Way Cool Canines can provide in these uncertain times. It’s also been great to reconnect with our family here and have time to “slow down.”

While we are not able to go out and meet people in person due to COVID-19, we have had the opportunity to go out for drives and walks in less-crowded areas and trails. Kentucky is such a beautiful, lush, green “jungle” of sorts. From the legendary stone fences to gorgeous waterfalls and 150-year-old stone bridges, the variety of plants and birds seem unmatched. I love walking through forests and seeing the twisted trees, the mossy trunks, listening to the voices of all the different songbirds.

At Tioga Falls

Soon I will be able to announce a full listing of services here on WayCoolCanines.com. I am actively scheduling clients for online coaching via Zoom, and would love to help you. I will also be filming training videos and offering some free online classes, as well as “Ask a Trainer” sessions. I hope you can join us! Please send an email to me at WayCoolCanines@gmail.com to get notifications for these free classes and more.

At Taylorsville Lake, near my childhood home

If you have specific training needs for your dog(s), I will be offering packages to address a variety of problem behaviors as well. The wonderful thing about online training is that I can work with ANYONE, ANYWHERE. All you need is the ability to be online as well, and we will work with a variety of tools for success for me to coach you one-on-one. As a client of Way Cool Canines, there will also be other resources available, like free coaching videos and a Facebook group where you can interact with other clients and get additional support.

At Bridges of the Past

In addition, since so many of us are quarantined at home, I know there can be challenges to keeping your dogs–as well as everyone in your family–happy and healthy, and I will be offering videos on a variety of fun activities all of you can enjoy together, as well as how to better occupy your dog so that it will minimize any problems that may arise from boredom!

There is beauty all around us! Even in these crazy times, I invite you to just go outside (so long as you’re appropriately safe with masks and social distancing), and take in nature. I believe this is a great time to reconnect with a lot of what we have lost in our modern world. I would love to hear from you about what you are enjoying, and see photos such as I’ve posted here, of the beauty that surrounds you. I’ll be in touch again soon with updates on services and more!

Take care and be healthy,
Owner, Way Cool Canines