One of my clients, the talented and beautiful, Pam Ogonowski, is a certified dog trainer and owner of, Think Like a Pup. I love receiving training tips from you guys and I’m always happy to answer when I know the answer. However, I always like to check with the behavioral experts who understand dog lingo and behavior better than anyone! Recently, I got a request about leash pulling and polite greetings and Pam gives some fantastic tips below!
Dog Training Tips on Leash Pulling & Polite Greetings
by Pam Ogonowski
Pulling, jumping, and barking are pretty common issues in the human/dog world. This is because these behaviors are self rewarding. If you take a second to think like a pup, you’ll quickly understand why. I bark - I make things disappear. I bark - I get attention. I jump - I get attention. I pull - I get to see what I want. I pull - I get to smell delicious things and maybe even roll in them. Lucky for us humans, it’s not too complicated.
Now that you understand the self rewarding nature of these behaviors, you can change how your pup acts with a little bit of dog logic. Let’s take a look at the following scenario.
Dog on leash sees person. Dog gets excited to see person. Dog barks and pulls toward person. Dog greets person. Dog Learns: Pulling and barking gets me what I want.
Let’s change this scenario to something more desirable.
Dog on leash sees person. Dog gets excited to see person. Dog barks and pulls toward person. Human stops. Human waits until dog is quiet and calm and leash is loose (this may take a little time). Human and dog walk calmly toward person. Dog has all paws on the ground. Human gives dog permission to greet person. Dog politely greets person. Dog learns: Calm behavior gets me what I want.
Maybe today’s one of those days and you know that you’re not going to get your desired behavior. Here’s a smarter choice.
Dog on leash sees person. Dog gets excited to see person. Dog pulls toward person. Human stops when dog pulls. Dog starts pulling. Dog continues to act crazy - barking and chewing on leash. Human turns and walks away. Dog follows. Dog does not get to greet person. Dog Learns: Acting crazy does not get me what I want. Also, the undesired behavior is not being reinforced.
This same logic applies to barking, counter surfing, loose leash walking, etc. To get the behavior you want, you just need to ask yourself a couple questions - What is my dog doing? Why is my dog doing it? What is the “reward?” What do I want my dog to do instead? How can we get there? If you #thinklikeapup, you’ll know what to do!
Here are a few tips for the “real world.”
Eliminate your dog’s opportunity to practice undesired behaviors. The more they practice, the more the behavior is being reinforced. If you don’t want your dog dragging you down the street, don’t let them pull. Pulling = stop, loose leash = go!
Be consistent. Dogs don’t generalize well. For example, if you don’t want your dog jumping on random strangers in white pants or your two year old nephew, then you cannot allow them to jump on you.
Crazy behavior does not get rewards.
Set your dog up for success! Practice at home or in an area with minimal distractions and slowly work up to more challenging situations.
Hope this helps! Be sure to check out www.thinklikeapup.com for more training tips and all things dog related!