- The dog training equipment you are using is not right for your dog’s temperament
- Your dog tries every other thing except the action you are trying to teach
- Your correction is not meeting the distraction level of your dog, resulting in no dog attention
Proper Dog Training Equipment & ApplicationFor basic training, use a 6 foot leather lead and a choke or pinch collar. Begin with a choke collar, and if it seems successful, continue to use it. If the dog has a high tolerance for corrections and a more effective tool is needed, then use a pinch collar.
A properly fitted choke collar is very important in training. It should be the size of the dog’s neck plus 2 inches. Put the choke chain on correctly by dropping the chain through either ring and making the letter “P” with it. Next, slip the loop in the letter “P” over the dog’s head. If your choke chain goes over your dog’s head a little snug, it’s acceptable as most breeds have larger heads than necks.
With your dog on your left hand side, pop up on the leash and release. The choke chain should also release the tension on the dog’s neck. If you are using a pinch collar, remember that it is not placed on the dog by putting it over the head. Rather, you must unhook it at a link in the collar, then go around your dog’s neck and hook the collar back together. You can add or subtract links from a pinch collar to change sizes. A pinch collar should fit semi snug on your dog. If a pinch collar is fitted too loose, it will not give an effective correction.
Ways That Dogs Resist Training and Learning CommandsHave you ever read a dog training book that said to teach command x, you must do y, but to your amazement it just didn't work with your dog? Dogs will most likely exhibit silly behaviors as a means of resisting training, and this must be addressed before a dog can be effectively trained to exhibit any particular behavior or action. The signs of resistance are easy to identify so long as you know what to watch for. Some examples include:
- While heeling or walking with a leash, your dog: sniffs the ground, pulls on the leash, lags behind, goes to your right side instead of staying on your left, jumps on you, bites the leash, tries to grab the leash with its front paws, refuses to move forward, or lies down on the ground and refuses to move.
- When told to “sit”, your dog: won’t sit, lays down, lets its body go limp, stands stiff as a board, starts sniffing the ground and gets up, or tries to jump on you while you position it into a sit
- When told “down”, your dog: braces itself with its front legs so you can't make it go down, rolls over on its back when it is down, tries to bite you or snaps at you, tries to crawl forward, barks or howls, goes down in the front but keeps its rear up, or won’t stay down after being placed in the down position.
- When told “come”, your dog: sniffs the ground, tries running away even on leash, runs past you, freezes and does not come, or lies down and does not come.
- When told “stay”, your dog: tries to follow you as you leave, dances around with its front feet, creeps forward, breaks the stay as you walk around it, gets up on the “down stay” command, or lies down on the “sit stay” command.
Corrections and Distraction LevelsWhat is a correction? A correction is a pop and release of the leash, not a pull. How much should a dog be corrected? A dog should only be corrected enough to gain compliance with a command or stop an unwanted action.
Each dog has a different threshold when it comes to a correction (this has nothing to do with a dog’s age, sex, breed, or weight), and you need to find your own dog’s threshold to be an effective trainer. You will also need to understand that when your dog’s distraction level goes up, so must the correction level. For example, if you are training your dog on a command like walking on a leash, the correction for your dog would be to pop and release on the leash if he starts to pull. If you tell your dog to “heel”, and your dog complies with the command, but then meets another dog or person and the same amount of correction is ineffective, you will need to increase the correction due to the distraction of the other dog or person.
Dealing With No Dog AttentionAt the basic level, the main things that will cause lack of dog attention are sniffing the ground and everything else your dog sees, pulling on the leash, and jumping. If you have your dog’s attention, it solves 80% of your training problems. In my 24 years of training dogs, I have found the easiest dogs to train are not sniffing, pulling, or jumping. So, if you can just get these three problems under control, you can train a dog that will learn new things very fast because it is now focused on you and ready to learn. I will let you in on a secret - sniffing leads to pulling on the leash, so if you stop the sniffing (while training), you will start gaining more attention towards you and the commands you are trying to teach your dog. Understand that I am not saying that your dog can never sniff, I am saying it can't sniff while you are training. When you release your dog from a command, it’s ok for it to sniff before relieving itself and when it’s exploring, but don't let it pull on the leash. I believe that sniffing (employ the “leave it” command to counter) is the first thing to get under control, then everything else falls into place.
About the Author: Richard Martinez has over two decades of experience and success as a seasoned dog trainer. As the proprietor of The Leash Connection, Richard provides trainers and owners with the necessary dog training tools and information to be successful. Visit www.dog-training.com today to find products that will make training easier and more effective, thus creating a great relationship between you and your dog.