Why obedience training isn’t always the answer for a ‘problem walker’.

Image credit: Strongdogz.com
Image credit: Strongdogz.com

According to Helen Johnstone- Behavioural Consultant and Dog Listener having a dog that is a bad walker isn’t always solved by obedience training. Heres why…

Is your dog a ‘problem walker’? Constantly pulling on the lead, barking or lunging aggressively at other dogs or even people, trying to bolt off in all different directions or biting on the leash?

As a dog owner, it’s imperative that you’re in control of your dog whenever the two of you are out and about together. Antisocial or aggressive behaviours can become dangerous if left unchecked; and un-cooperative behaviour such as pulling can make you frustrated and angry with the dog, which creates a vicious cycle as they respond to your negative energy. A dog that walks happily and calmly, however, is a joy to take out.

Many of my clients can’t understand why their dogs continue to be so difficult to walk, despite months or years of apparently successful obedience training.

A few years ago I took one of my dogs, Tigger, along to obedience classes – mainly because he was quite dog-aggressive and it was the ideal situation to expose him to lots of other dogs.

I did not advise the club that I was a dog behavioural consultant because I didn’t want to be treated differently or have them feel threatened. I learned so much while I was there and the experience was fantastic. The club had some great policies, including not allowing your dog to approach another dog on lead, having no dogs off lead during the class times and more. They based their training on positive and reward-based methods and choke chains etc were banned.

However, if I had followed the instructions of the obedience trainers, Tigger’s behaviour would have worsened and not improved while I was there.

Why? As I explain to my clients, obedience training is very different to behaviour and dog psychology: at obedience school we’re taught to put the dog into “training” mode using a command that lets them know that a work session is commencing. At the end of the work session they’re released.

And this is where the problems start: the ‘obedience’ switch is turn off, and the dog feels he can do as he pleases. I noticed that some of the best-behaved dogs in the classes immediately dragged their owner out of the class as soon as it was over. Even some of the instructors had dogs that were muzzled, dog-aggressive and debarked.

So, while obedience classes certainly have their place, they’re not the solution to walking-related problems. So how do we address the issue?

Dog psychology, which takes a more holistic approach to behaviour management than obedience training, is often the answer. At CalmaDog we show you how to work with your dog, successfully training them to walk on a loose lead, using their natural desire to please and understand their role within your “pack”.

This method, based on communication and positive reinforcement, progressively calms the dog’s mind, leading to stronger cooperation, happier walks and a much-improved relationship between you and your canine companion.

If you would like a one on one with Helen, contact her at the details below.


Helen Johnstone / Behavioural Consultant and Dog Listener
[email protected] / 0421 615 022

PO Box 316 West Ryde NSW 1685

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