The topic today is bad technique can be more harmful than a tool. Many times on the internet, I see that people are bad-mouthing different types of tools that dog trainers use. Those tend to include slip leashes, martingales, the different sizes of prong collars, the different types of electric collars.
Now, I’ve got to admit that some of those tools in the hands of novices is not something that I want to see. However, those tools in the hands of a skilled and experienced professional are something that can help quite a few dogs and quite a few owners. But what’s more important than the tool itself is having sound technique. I’ve seen people with these potent tools and even weak tools that have bad technique and are messing up their relationship with their dog.
So what I want to share with you all today is some of the things that I teach in my basic obedience course about having good, solid, sound technique. Regardless of the tool you’re using.
Moving With A Purpose
So the first thing that I want to cover doesn’t have a tool to it, but it is essential. It’s about the way that you move. So moving with a purpose is one of the first things I teach any family that I’m coaching. This is just going to help your dog by showing them that there’s something that’s moving quickly. My human and I should follow or chase that. Quick movement has a way of communicating to your dog to move and pursue after that thing.
Makes sense, right?
Dogs are carnivores. After all, they’re predatory creatures, and they want to chase things that skitter away from them.
Lead With Your Left
Now, the second thing that I teach people that they should turn into a technique is that they should lead with their left. That means that if you’re using food, it should be on the left-hand side of your body, even when it’s not in your hand.
That means that the treat pouch should be on the left-hand side of your body. When you start walking, you should start with your left leg first, and you should generally keep the leash in your left hand to help guide your dog. So if you move with a purpose and you lead with your left, these are some sound techniques that really help a dog understand how you’re moving.
Use The Leash
The following technique that I want to share is about how to use a leash. Leash work isn’t all that complicated, but there is some finesse required in doing it. Here’s how a leash works. You put pressure down the line. That’s going to be called guidance. And as you guide your dog in the direction, the thing that you want them to do. When they hit that target, you should release it.
And I mean, you should release the pressure. That doesn’t mean dropping your leash. That just means any tension that might be in the line that you’re going to relax. It is because your dog has done the thing that you want. So the shorthand version of that is pressure on, behavior, pressure off. But just one quick note here. It’s not the most pressure that you can put on your dog, and it is the least that will communicate to the dog to move towards the target that you want it to move.
Okay, so what’s the next non-verbal that I teach people? Well, the following nonverbal technique that I teach people has to do with using food. Food is a great way to get your dog to do something. However, I feel that dogs shouldn’t see the food before doing the work. What that means is that you should take the piece of food and use its scent hidden inside of your hand or inside of a gesture. And once you hide the source of the smell inside the gesture, get the dog to do the thing you want.
Perhaps you want it to lay down, and then after they do the behavior, then you can show them the source of the scent. So these techniques, if you can get them right, can help you considerably be able to help your dog understand what it is you want. However, if you don’t have good, solid, sound techniques, regardless of the tool you’re using, you could be harming your relationship with your dog.
You might also be physically making your dog unnecessarily uncomfortable because your techniques are not sound. So again, here’s a short little recap to sum up today’s lesson. It would help if you led with your left. Move with your purpose. When you’re using your leash, you should turn gentle pressure on. Get your dog to execute the behavior, turn the pressure off.
And when you’re using food, hide the source of the scent, the piece of food inside of a gesture. Get your dog to do what you want them to do, and then show them the source of the scent.