As much as I like the far-reaching philosophical posts, they are sometimes a little bit difficult to write and take a little bit more time. Plus, I have gotten some feedback that some of my quick training tip posts have been very effective and helpful in the daily life. I have talked about how to hold a leash before. Now, I want to talk about how to reward your dog.
This one seems pretty simple I would bet. But, one of the reasons that I want to address this is I see people struggling with it in class and private lessons relatively frequently. In order to reward your dog effectively, you need to reward your dog immediately. With marker such as clicker training, you can separate when you mark and delay the reward. But, if you're not using markers regularly, you really do need to reward immediately.
The other thing is if you are working duration (so a Down/Stay, Sit/Stay, Stand/Stay) you need to reward them intermittently in the beginning and you need to reward them for the duration. This means you need to reward them multiple times while they hold that position. What often ends up happening is the owner starts fumbling in their pockets or in their treat pouch or having to unpeel the stick of cheese, and then their dog starts anticipating the treat or just gets bored or confused, and then they break from the position.
One of the big things that took me a while to understand is a lot of people don't realize that you can treat more quickly and effectively. If you have multiple traits in your hand. So I have the hand that I am actively treating from, which is usually the opposite hand from the one holding the leash. And then in my leash hand I have what I call a reservoir hand, where I have a reserve of extra treats. So,I treat the dog transfer another treat from my reservoir hand, treat the dog, treat the dog, and it's easily as seamless as that sentence. It's even more effective if I need to reward my dog even more rapidly. Let's say I have a very excitable dog that's struggling to sit, as someone approaches to be pet about them. That's where I put 10 treats in one hand and put most of the treats back in my palm, and then just pop the treats forward in between my thumb and index finger and treat that way, because then I can reward rapid fire and reward as often as my dogs need. It really is a really game changing trick for some.
The other is a trick is one that I did a video on very early on when I started my business. And, it is something that, when I am walking 6, 7, 8 dogs is invaluable. But often, I see clients with their one dog still struggling. I think anyone can use this tip, and that is how to teach your dog to disentangle the leash when they get their leash trapped between their front leg, back leg around their leg. I’ll post the video, but essentially what you need to do is you need to give them enough slack in the leash that they can manipulate their body around it and get it free, and then train them to respond to your spatial pressure or body pressure.
So to begin, face the dog when they’ve gotten their leash between their legs. Give them enough slack put that leash, hold on to the end of the leash, but put the rest of it on the ground. Take a step towards the dog so the dog steps backwards, and is no longer standing over the leash. You can do this with all sorts of tangling issues.
It really is really an invaluable trick. When people are getting started using long lines, one of their big concerns is: “Oh no it's tangled in their leash!” Well, teach your how to untangle themselves, which is a good skill that a dog should learn anyways. If they get caught up in something they should understand how to disentangle themselves. Then you don't have to worry, and it's also putting a lot of the agency on the dog rather than on you helping them understand: “You can fix this. I don't have to fix it for you, and you don't need to panic about oh no you're tangled.” It really isn’t that big of a deal unless they're running. If they catch a front foot at a walk or even just standing, it's really easy to fix.
So, those are my two quick training tips of the day, and they're very effective, they're very easy to teach and change and implement, and hopefully that will create an easier, conflict-free training session with your dog.