Updated: Jun 11, 2019
Recently on Instagram, I had asked what things you would ask a dog trainer if you could? I recieved some great responses and there were so many great ones to choose from! I recently "cyber-met" Bethany, with Walking Dog Training and was in awe. She is not only a super amazing, balanced dog trainer, she is also inspiring in everything she shares.
Bethany is the head trainer at Walking Dog Training and trains out of her home in the cutest little neighborhood called Audubon Park in Orlando, Florida. I knew it would be an amazing opportunity to have her answer your burning questions here since Bethany's biggest goal is to help you live a happy & calm life with your dog!
Please note that Bethany is a balanced trainer and uses different tools to help communicate with all kinds of dogs! Some are fearful, some energetic and some are aggressive. Her training program is designed to help dogs become better versions of themselves with the help of tools that empower owners.
We chose 3 of the most common responses and Bethany blessed us by answering them below on this #takeovertuesday
#1. Walking Nicely On Leash
This is the number one issue that most owners struggle with. The first thing we have to understand is that a dog will do whatever they think they can. Pulling on leash is fun! But, not so much for us. My go-to tool for teaching a dog to walk nicely is a prong collar. They look pretty scary, but it is actually the most humane tool to use with your dog. I see people using it the wrong way all the time, so here are my top tips for introducing it to your dog:
Brand matters. I like to buy Herm Sprenger Collars. The ends on the collar are smoother, unlike the kind you find in pet stores which have much more blunt ends. You can find them on Amazon, but sometimes they sell knockoffs. We like to purchase our collars from pawmark.com
Size also matters (that's what she said ... any Office fans out there? Lol ok, sorry ... back to business) You can buy a couple of different sizes. There is a larger one (the 3.0) and a smaller/medium size (2.25). If you have a larger dog or one that you like to describe as a "tank", the 3.0 may be for you. I like to use the smaller size on most dogs, but I like the feel of the bigger one.
The fit is SUPER important. A lot of times I will see a dog with a prong collar on, but it's lower on the neck ... like a necklace. This is the wrong way to wear it. It should be higher on the neck. Almost directly below the ears. This is the most sensitive part of a dog's neck (unlike the lower part, which is very strong -- easier to pull against) and if fitted properly you will see some major differences in the walk.
Another thing worth mentioning ... we love our dogs. I love all animals and still cry if I watch Bambi. This tool gets a bad rep because it looks scary and some people probably have misused it. The whole point of using a prong collar is for it to be just uncomfortable enough for your dog to stop pulling. Not in pain, but uncomfortable. There should not be any pressure on your dog's neck when he is walking nicely and believe it or not, he will start to catch on! Ohhh ... so if I walk nicely, it's not uncomfortable. But, if I pull ... not so fun. Most owners that I work with are a bit nervous about this tool initially, but end up loving it when they see how well their dog is now behaving on the walk.
#2. Leash Reactivity
Next, to walking nicely on leash, this is the second biggest problem that owners want to work on when they drop off their dog for training. Here is what I do with leash reactive dogs:
First, I like to work on getting a dog to walk nicely with me. We refer to this as the "heel" position. Usually to the left (can be to the right) and a little behind your knee. This gives each dog a job to focus on instead of worrying about everything else around them.
Next, we introduce a new tool: the e collar. We love working with the Mini Educator 300 by E Collar Technologies. It has 100 levels which makes it very easy to be as sensitive as needed when teaching a dog what this new tool means. Think of it as an invisible leash.
A quick note about this tool: much like the prong collar, this one is also misunderstood. There are some cheaper brands out there that give it a bad reputation. The kind that goes from levels 1-8 is not the same thing. Level 1 is uncomfortable. There is really no in between when you have 8 levels to work with. The mini educator on the other hand ... I can't even feel it until level 13. This is such a great tool to help you communicate with your dog in a whole new way, especially when it comes to leash reactivity.
I will refer you to some videos I have made about how I introduce the e collar. We do not put it on and start correcting for things. We want to be as fair as possible to the dog in front of us.
Here is a link to my video on how to introduce the e collar to your dog:
That being said, once you have done that you can move on to corrections.
For leash reactivity, it is all about correcting BEFORE the outburst. This is when you really have to pay attention to. Observe your dog and watch for the signs that lead up to the reactivity: wrinkled forehead, ears up, staring, growling, etc. You correct for that. The intent. This is tough for most people to wrap their heads around at first and sometimes it takes more work than others, but it pays off. Remember, the e collar goes from 1-100. Your job is to find a level that means enough to your dog to stop the reactivity. I've seen some dogs respond really well to a 10 when another dog (much more intense) needs a level 65. Your dog will show you which level means enough to stop the reactivity.
A quick note about levels: the more aroused/intense your dog is, the higher a number. For example, your dog responds really well to a level 12 inside your house when you say no to barking, but out in public (higher level of distractions/smells/noises), you have to go up to a 45. You can "whisper" inside your house with the e collar, but need to be a bit louder to meet the distraction level outside.
To stop unwanted behavior, it needs to be uncomfortable. This does not mean that you do not love your dog. It's actually quite the opposite! Your clarity about what is expected will drastically change the way your dog looks at you. As his leader and someone he can trust will take care of him in all situations. That's not his job ... it's yours.
#3. How to train a dog that isn't treat or food motivated:
Luckily, most dogs that I work with love a high value treat!
These are the ones that I use: https://amzn.to/2IBlVdh
You can also use your dog's food for training. Instead of feeding your dog morning and night, use that use her meals for either a couple of training sessions or randomly throughout the day. Dogs eat when they get hungry enough. You can also use affection when training. This is a HUGE reward! Most owners give affection much too often (myself included), but try to remember this saying ... you get what you pet. You may not realize it, but giving your dog affection is a great way to reinforce a behavior: bad or good.
Example: dog jumps on you when you get home and you give affection and love on him. Translation: jumping on me is good! Jumping on all people must be really good!
Are you looking for more doggy training goodness? I have a few posts from house rules with dogs to helping with seperation anxiety in dogs. As always thank you for joining me on this journey of being a dog mom!