What’s more exciting than pee on a pole?

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I get a lot of questions from friends and clients and here is one that I got recently regarding something that I said about needing to be more interesting than the distractions your dog encounters:

Q: You said we’re supposed to be more interesting than a semi using jake brakes, more interesting than another dog or cat, and more interesting than pee on every pole. I was following you right up to the end. Now does this imply that we are NOT supposed to stop and examine pee on every pole? ‘Cause that really sounds like it takes the fun out of a walk (for a dog). We DO clip along sometimes and when necessary, but sometimes we stop and smell everything ….. surely that can’t be bad!!??? Help!

A: Allow me to clarify! What I meant was, IF you need to get your dog to refocus onto you, THEN you must be more exciting than pee on a pole. I let my dogs do all sorts of sniffing, but I get to be the one to control the amount of time we spend on each activity (if said dog is on lead). If said dog is off-lead, I am more flexible about time spent on olfactory activities, but ultimately I am the one who decides how long and where we go. Hence, a reliable recall (or Come!) is important to instill in your dog so that when it is time for the off-lead dog to move along, he does!  

But, moreover, I was thinking about indoor noise control. While it is difficult for the three canines in my life to believe this, I honestly do not need to have EVERY truck, leaf, bird, biker, insect, or cloud announced to me.  Therefore, I need to make checking in with me worth their while. Thus, I want the thought process to go something like this:

DOG:  “Oh, hey!, there is a shadow by the birdbath!!!  WOOF! Maybe Julie should know about this. I should warn her about the shadow. Maybe there will be a reward for warning her!” *trot trot trot, nudge, nudge, nudge* 
JULIE: “Hey booger head, what’s up? do you need something? Have a yummy chummie!”
DOG: “Hey food! *munch, munch, inhale, hack* Why did I come here? Maybe I should stick around…”
JULIE: “Hey good dog, why don’t you lie down here and chew your bone?”
DOG: “Hey, a bone! I should lie down and chew it!” *gnaw gnaw gnaw, snooze*…
Use what he loves to reward the behaviors you want in your dog! By providing our dogs with desirable things (food, treats, toys, play, ear scratches, belly rubs, etc) and making it interesting (and therefore rewarding) to check in with us, we can more easily manage the noisy behaviors that can make owning canines a challenge.
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Loose Lead Walking Training or "Why, Why, WHY?"1 comment

One Comment
  1. Julie: I LOVE this post! I’m honored that my question was the inspiration for a blog entry, and really glad to know it’s ok to smell every pole as long as I’m the one in control! Thanks for sharing your great tips!

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