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Leash walk...back to basics

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  • Leash walk...back to basics

    Why do we, myself included, visit various sites like this as we try to train our Danes? For me, it has been an ongoing attempt to suddenly find what I need to incorporate into my training sessions. I want for my Lily (now 10 months old) to be attentive, compliant and respected as we go out into the world of dogs, distractions and other people.

    Like you, probably, I have purchased a boat load of leads, harnesses, head gear and various other gimmicks. I've watched so many videos from many experts on this and that. So many, in fact, that I have begun to weed out the fly-by-night pros from the real good trainers and methods. I've tried to incorporate numerous techniques and have become confused as I train. 'Now what should I do here...or what did they say to do next?' Let me boil it down for you, as one novice Dane lover trying to get her trained. I have finally noticed HOW my Lily actually wants me to train her in order for her to learn it naturally; what she actually responds too willingly, not contrived for my ego's satisfaction.

    My ultimate goal is for Lily to accompany us anywhere at any time in a well mannered attitude. She is not a show dog or going for obedience honors. She is just our loving companion with whom we treasure her presence. I do not expect her to be at heel 100% of the time on lead or off. She can wonder loosely on either side within a body link or two. She can enjoy our whereabouts too. Distractions will happen, but she notices and just keeps up with us. She already does the major things like extended sit and stay and down. Those type of things were easy. It has been the loose walk that has been the hardest to learn.

    I have incorporated two major techniques. Both are ones so many great trainers have used. And both are very simple. First, when Lily seems to falter or resist. Rather than expand the training...I went back to the basics. I'm back to our front road. It is about 2 football fields long with a long straight stretch in the middle, a downhill at one end and a uphill at the other. Back and forth, over and over countless times, twice a day. We are in a rural area with several deer crossings and other natural distractions all along the way. I am using a harness and 20ft lead now, realizing that the 6 ft lead is best, but I want her to learn the farthest point she can wander then returning to my side, winding up the 20 ft to a short 2 or 3ft . I do the stand like a tree whenever she stubbornly halts as I go to the 20 ft end. I say nothing and just wait till she returns. No treat when she comes back but immediately resume the walk. I change directions often and here is the thing I learned from her about HOW SHE wants to learn. Whether she has faltered or maintains the walk...the secret for Lily anyway, is chicken...lots of chicken. I constantly giver chicken pieces (small of course) as we walk. I say, 'watch' as I point to my eyes, I place it into her mouth as we walk. When I stop she sits and gets chicken. When we resume she gets chicken as we walk. Always chicken, lots and lots of chicken. What I learned from her is distractions seem to be disregarded when she knows chicken is in my hand. The deer crossings and desirable smells do not over ride the chicken. I just say 'watch me' and she comes back....for chicken. She watches my eyes all the time now. She'll notice something or hear something and next she is looking at me, waiting for chicken. I have begun to spread out the treats more now and she still looks. She still gets distracted, but not nearly as much. When I think she is ready to go back into the 'real world,' I think she will be ready. I will have her on a 6 ft loose lead and lots of chicken though...lots of chicken...for a while anyway.

  • #2
    yes, basics need to be firmly in place and respected before moving on to the next phase of training.. Training in all kinds of distractions is a must. The use of training aids is fine, however they need to be fitted, put on and used properly or they are of no use in training...The ultimate goal is to have a reliable dog without the use of training aids or treats. It takes time, consistency and a lot of patience. In training one needs to remember.. dogs do what works for them Behavior is reward driven.
    Dale AKC CGC Evaluator
    Associate Member GDCNE
    Member GSPCA
    Member NAVHDA
    Member Central Maine Kennel Club
    High Hopes Great Danes & German Shorthairs