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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!
Even though your puppy may be learning to walk on a leash very nicely, you’re likely to run into some issues as he gets older, goes new places, and experiences new distractions. You’ll want to teach him loose-leash walking, because it’s much more pleasant for you both, and also then he can pass his Canine Good Citizen test. Here are a few tips on what to do if you’re having trouble with leash training, courtesy of the AKC GoodDog! Helpline.

If you’re looking for a leash that’s easy on the wallet, safe and durable, the Blueberry classic leash is a great choice. We love that it comes in 12 different colors and five sizes (ranging from four to five feet in various widths) so that it can work with nearly any dog. If your dog is easy on the leash and doesn’t require a lot of control or guidance, a standard nylon leash will do the job. We recommend this leash for dogs 75 lbs and under, as larger pups may need a stronger version.


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.
If your pup barks: Some dogs have the habit of barking at other dogs while on a walk. Oftentimes, this behavior comes as a result of lack of exercise. Make sure your dog gets the proper amount of mental and physical stimulation for his age and breed. If this is still a problem, use the same process as you would if your dog is lunging, as described above — create distance and offer treats before he starts to bark, so every time he sees a dog he gets used to turning his attention to you.
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:
Now, you may begin allowing your pooch to wear them around the house, increasing the wear time. Keep your pup inside with you, during the beginning of training to help him be successful (training outside can be distracting), and click and reward every time he chooses to be near you while he wears the collar and leash, and remember, consistency is key here. Also click and reward if he looks up at you, this is the foundation to getting his focus-You want his attention to be on you!

I mean, have you ever seen anyone successfully loose leash walk their dog using a retractable leash? I observed a man yesterday at our local pet food center trying to control his medium sized dog while another customer was walking their very petite pups. Guess what he was using? A retractable leash, that malfunctioned, the dog was able to get far enough away from the owner that he lost control and the dog went right after those little puppies. Luckily, the dog just wanted to say hello, and those two little pooches knew exactly how to take care of themselves! This scenario could have turned out pretty bad.
Throw a meat treat in the direction of the oncoming dog, turn on your heels, and walk away. I cannot even count the number of dog owners who are shocked that as their dog is being harassed by the off-leash dog, the owner of stands there, saying nothing, and doesn’t help to put an end to the situation. If another person is walking with you, ask them to attempt to catch the oncoming dog as you leave the scene (you have to decide in an instant if that would be a safe maneuver or not because breaking up a dog fight is an excellent way to get bitten).
Please remember to remain calm at all times, and utilize jackpots (more treats or better treats) when your dog accomplishes something that was difficult for him; i.e. not pulling you toward the neighbor dog! Jackpot for any eye contact or focus on you! Keep leash training sessions short and FUN! You can train several times a day, but you don’t want to push you or your dog past the point of fun! Puppies, especially, have short attention spans and if you insist on puppy training past the point of fun, usually around 5 to 15 minutes, your pup may start to dislike, and even dread training!
About the author: Annie Phenix, CPDT-KA, is a force-free professional dog trainer enjoying her mountain-filled life in Colorado. She is a member of the Pet Professional Guild and the National Association of Canine Scent Work. She takes her highly trained dogs with them everywhere dogs are welcome because of their exceptionally good manners. Join Annie on her dog-training Facebook page.
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