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Todd A. Slee
POB 462 / 210 N. Church Dr.
Roann, IN 46974
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DOGS ON WALKS

Dogs on Walks: Some common problems encountered while walking your dog, problems from both your canine, and other canines or even animals other than canines.


DISTRACTIONS

1. When walking your dog, there are potentially a number of distractions which might impede, interrupt or disturb your walk. Keep in mind that every distraction is an opportunity to further enhance your dog's performance. For the utmost potential of perfection, you need to subject your dog to distraction training. Simply put, that means working your dog in all of the tasks he already knows, while in the midst of a distraction or two, or even amongst many distractions at once.
     It's like learning to drive a car to a human. Once the basics are instilled, anyone can drive a vehicle around the countryside safely. But put that same driver on a busy freeway or in a bustling town with much traffic, pedestrians, bicycles and motorcycles, and the scenario all of a sudden becomes hectic, confusing, intimidating, and/or aggravating, perhaps even frightening or overwhelming to some.
     If you can envision that, then you can partially see through the eyes of a canine who has went from a series of training sessions at a school or in the back yard, to an often hurried and harried world. Dogs, like us humans, learn through repetition and experience, gradually becoming more comfortable, relaxed, confident and adept. But remember that canines, though possessing a certain amount of reasoning ability, do not have the critical thinking skills that we humans do. They can learn to do even rather intricate tasks such as opening and closing a door, but not through verbal explanation. They learn differently in that regard than we do. 


IGNORING THINGS
     2. What do you do when, while walking your dog, some other dog, or a cat or other animal, or a human, enters your dog's area of observation and your dog wants to run after it, stops and growls, or begins whining because he wants to play? Always remember that every distraction is an opportunity to more fully perfect your dog. There are a number of options, depending upon what the distraction is, and what your canine is intended for.
     If you want your dog to ignore all other animals and people, remaining passive always, give the command "Leave It" (after stating your dog's name), or whatever word you choose, then give a quick, sharp, short jerk on the leash, sort of a snapping action, and continue walking. A passive dog should be neither aggressive nor friendly, but rather socially aloof, nonchalant, indifferent. Some socialization can be done on walks, but not all the time nor on every walk.
    If the distraction is not very close, and your dog is a spotter or large area sentry, once he notices and barks or lets you know by posture or movement that he has seen something, praise him, and once your spontaneous sentry lesson is complete, if longer than a moment, praise him again, state the dog's name, and command "Leave It", continuing on [you may want your dog to study the situation for a few moments, instilling in him to disregard if the "intruder" moves on, or sound the alarm if it approaches closer, depending upon your need]. If cross-training as sentry and guard, you may want him to warn when an intruder is spotted, and assume guard duty if the potential danger comes closer. Remember that some guard dogs were originally livestock guards and herders, such as the Rottweiler and German Shepherd].
    Usually, even an aggressive dog will not bother you if you ignore him and keep on going, or in the case of a frontal confrontation, you veer off and go around. Turning your back on an aggressive dog invites a rear assault, many times. Note that a lot of dogs are simply aggressive in an ornery or mischievous way. One of my friends has a dog that, when out of the fenced area, would run right past my dogs and I, seeming to bite whichever one he was closest to. He did reach out with his jaws and tag, but never actually bit. All my dogs ever did was to look around like when a bug is on them. It didn't bother them for three reasons: the dog didn't actually bite, or at least didn't actually grab; my dogs sensed no hostility, and; I've trained them to ignore things that are no real problem.
     My friend started working with his, and it got to where his dog would come out and just run around a little. I also "bluffed" the dog at times, or else tried to kick him [it's hard to kick a dog, because they can tell], but a lot of aggressive dogs can be dealt with just by remaining calm and ignoring them.
     I have had a couple of situations where a dog stalked out and we had a face to face encounter, where the other dog boldly challenged us. That can be a problem, and all I can say is, sometimes you can't just back away, though that should be your first choice. Once when I tried to back off, the dog stayed right there and took it as a sign of cowardice. So I let my dogs stand him down with growls and stares. Thankfully that has worked a few times, with me raising my voice at the dog as well. Another time like that I kicked him in the head. Sometimes there is simply no choice.
     In a situation like that, my very last resort is letting my dogs loose on the aggressor, because it can be a mess all the way around. However, most dogs like that are a result of the owner not instilling any real discipline and domination over their dog. So all that is needed is to show that dog that you mean business if he is going to be a bully, and are more serious and capable than he is. I'm not saying that I recommend this route to anybody, but I am saying that every once in a while, a dog wants to be a bully and will not let you skate until you show some backbone. Standing your ground just long enough to discourage him usually does it. Once he knows that you and your dog will defend yourselves if needed, leave, watching your back a you go.
     To explain this last resort thing in another way, I'll borrow some advice from a book I read [which I will list when I recall which book], concerning an Indian meeting a bear or mountain lion that jumps out and confronts them: in that case, if you run you're dinner. Make yourself appear as big, mean, menacing and loud as possible. Do not show any fear at all. If you have a stick, shake it at them, too. You have no choice at that point in time. It's a clash and test of each other's will.
     If your dog is going to be around cattle, horses and/or cats/other animals, then you will need to work with them a good amount, to get them socialized around them.  

TRG. ESSENTIALS


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1. DISTRACTIONS

2. IGNORING THINGS