Speaking of reward, positive reinforcement refers to operant conditioning, and I won’t bore you with the details right now, but suffice it to say B.F. Skinner, one of the leading researchers on reinforcement, found that positive reinforcement (to reward good behavior) is far more superior to punishment in altering undesirable behavior because positive reinforcement results in lasting behavioral modification, and punishment changes behavior only temporarily; and presents many detrimental side effects. If the problem behavior changes temporarily, it will reappear later, and it comes with even more problem behavior! Good Behavior = Reward and Bad Behavior = Punishment, does that sound familiar? Positive reinforcement training is what exotic animal trainers have used for years to teach dolphins, whales and large cats among other animals. You cannot force a dolphin to do what it does not want to do!
Leashes are used on large animals—such as bovids, camelids, and equids—to lead them so that they will be forced to follow and come to a desired area—as well as to tether them to a specific area, such as to a fencepost or tree trunk, so that they will remain stationary and not run away. Oftentimes, leashes are used to tether such animals when they require separation, examination, or work to be done to them, such as grooming and tacking up.
In Connecticut, dogs are not permitted to run at large except in the situation of hunting. Still, if the dog has vicious propensities and the owner still allows it to run at large and a person is bitten, the owner can be fined for up to $1,000 and is also liable for 6 months of prison unless the victim has abused the dog and provoked the harmful behavior.
Consider why puppies pull when they are walking; there are many things that tempt your dog when you’re out for a walk, like children playing in the yard across the street, you neighbor grilling some hot dogs and that squirrel in the tree at the park. Your pup will try to get where he wants to go, even if that means pulling you along with him! If he pulls on the leash and you allow him to, you’ve reinforced that pulling gets him what he wants. Once you’ve allowed him to do this, he’ll do it again and again:
The clicker is a very effective training tool, that when conditioned with a reward like food, a treat or a toy signals to your puppy that he has done something right. The clicking sound becomes synonymous with the reward/treat once training has begun. However, your puppy has to be taught that the clicker means something and clicking alone is not reinforcing anything.
Leash walking outside may be more frustrating because there are numerous distractions for you to compete with for your puppy’s attention. Understand, from his point of view, how much more difficult this task has now become, and whatever you do, don’t lose your patience; don’t drag him or allow him to drag you! Walk slowly and click and treat if he stays at your side. If he begins to pull, stop or change your direction, then click and treat when he reaches your side again!
Keep moving on a walk instead of stopping and chatting with others. While you and the other person are smiling and looking at each other, your dogs may be sending signals to one another that they are uncomfortable. Keep moving and stay focused on your dog’s body language. If your dog stiffens, growls, starts randomly sniffing or scratching, or you can see his hackles (among other warning signs that your dog is getting uncomfortable), do a U-turn and put something visual between you and the trigger upsetting your dog.