If your pup lunges: If your dog is going after something while on a walk — another dog, a car, a skateboarder, for example, be proactive. Try to redirect his attention with a treat before he has a chance to lunge, and increase the space between your dog and the target. Stay alert and be prepared before the target of his frustration gets too close. This type of behavior may be more common in herding breeds, but any dog can be startled by something he’s not used to or finds exciting.
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.
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:
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!
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.
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