This got me nowhere. Gripping the leash tightly and wrapping it around my hands, when others approached. This did not help at all. I wanted a behaved dog and for me to be quiet and confident with my dog. I created the opposite.
I needed a very different approach. I studied dog behavior and psychology and started to listen to my dog… Boomer. He and I worked out a better way. He helped me to understand how dogs work and I began to see how Humans work in relation to dogs. Over many years I have developed a method that creates a connection between the dog and myself. This connection comes from leading the dog with a calm assertive approach, a light touch, giving the dog confidence, and a foundation layered for success.
Understanding that dogs are simple and we the human are complicated is where I begin. We hold on to the past and worry about the future. Dogs do not. They do not lie. They reveal the issue at hand. They live in the moment, thus, we can help them change their state of mind, slowly, to accept a more calm and balanced existence.
I am a Calm yet assertive individual. I am Calm in almost all situations. I wasn’t always this way. But it is the only way to help a dog have the right state of mine. This has given me an edge in my ability to work with and train dogs. A dog responds to calm energy. My demeanor and methods help to change the state of mind of a dog. Yelling and screaming at a dog does not work, as the dog hears that as barking and an excited anxiety ridden Human. The Leader is the quiet one. The Leader can tell others to follow instructions in a calm assertive way without raising the voice level and creating undue anxiety.
I train with a light hand. All my corrections are slight. One tenth of a second to change years of unwanted behavior. I use correction not punishment. I am a yes – no, pressure on pressure off trainer. I first show the dog what I want and then help the dog to achieve success. Once the dog understands the process then I guide the dog to make good decisions and help him to gain confidence. At this point, I give praise for a good decision and job well done. I use my own body language and energy to communicate with the dog. The goal is for the dog to be calm, confident, obedient and balanced. To help achieve these goals I have the use of some tools.
I have tools to help my calm energy to achieve the best outcome in changing behavior or teaching obedience. I use the best prong (pressure) collars (Herm-Sprenger). When fitted properly, a prong collar is designed to distribute pressure evenly around the dog’s neck, there is not one constant pressure point to harm your dog’s windpipe or dig into the skin. With a prong collar I can also effectively eliminate tension and regain a dog’s focus much more easily and clearly when a dog is in a heightened state. A prong collar provides an effective and fair interruption to conduct conversation with our dogs and give them information.
I also use E Collar Technologies Mini Educator e-collar. The e-collar gives off a “stim”, similar to treatment a chiropractor will use on tight muscles. The remote collar has levels from 1-100 so I can micro set it to the lowest level the dog can feel (working baseline). Both these tools help me to utilize “pressure on pressure off” to train and get results. Using the e collar correctly, at low levels is the most effective, and reliable training tool. It helps the dog, even fearful dogs, develop the confidence to complete tasks by relating a stim to a command, without a leash.
I rarely use treats when training. In some instances with specific issues I may use the dogs own food to help distract with certain behaviors.