Contact Us
1161 E. Clark Rd
Suite 262
Dewitt, MI 48820
Fax: 517.853.5888
Sign up for our newsletter email:

Posts Tagged ‘Training’

The AKC Canine Good Citizen Certification – What Is It and Why Do You Want It?

Sunday, May 23rd, 2010

We offer a Canine Good Citizen® class and certification. Wondering what CGC is all about? At AnnaBelle’s, we think it’s a great way to teach responsible dog ownership, to help build the relationship between owner and dog, and helps improve the image of our beloved canine citizens. Here’s what the AKC says about it’s popular CGC program:

Started in 1989, CGC is a certification program that is designed to reward dogs who have good manners at home and in the community. The Canine Good Citizen Program is a two-part program that stresses responsible pet ownership for owners and basic good manners for dogs. All dogs who pass the 10-step CGC test may receive a certificate from the American Kennel Club.

Many dog owners choose Canine Good Citizen training as the first step in training their dogs. The Canine Good Citizen Program lays the foundation for other AKC activities such as obedience, agility, tracking, and performance events. As you work with your dog to teach the CGC skills, you’ll discover the many benefits and joys of training your dog. Training will enhance the bond between you and your dog. Dogs who have a solid obedience education are a joy to live with-they respond well to household routines, have good manners in the presence of people and other dogs, and they fully enjoy the company of the owner who took the time to provide training, intellectual stimulation, and a high quality life. We sincerely hope that CGC will be only a beginning for you and your dog and that after passing the CGC test, you’ll continue training in obedience, agility, tracking, or performance events. * * *


In a little over one decade, the Canine Good Citizen Program has begun to have an extremely positive impact in many of our communities. This is a program that can help us assure that the dogs we love will always be welcomed and well-respected members of our communities.

This Fall, Arrow Dog Training is offering Canine Good Citizen – Clicker Style at AnnaBelle’s Pet Station. Want your dog to greet people and other dogs appropriately? Want your dog to behave properly in public? Then this class is for you! Sign up online or call 517.599.0995.


Clicker Mechanics: How to Correctly Use a Clicker When Training

Sunday, March 28th, 2010

Those of you who have taken a clicker training class know the importance of “timing” when using a clicker. But there are a few other important aspects of clicker use that you should know. Brushing up on these skills is as important to the experienced clicker trainer as it is to the beginner. And, if you haven’t taken a clicker class, what are you waiting for? Sign up now to learn the most advanced, scientific method of animal training available today. Here are some exercises to help you get started:

1.  Get comfortable with the clicker and make sure your dog is too.

clickerClickers come in many shapes and sizes and every brand sounds different. Click the clicker near your dog. If he flinches or is frightened in any way, try a different brand. Some clickers come with different sounds such as “pings” or “chirp” that may be less intimidating to your dog. Get a wrist coil or lanyard to keep your clicker conveniently attached to you and within easy access.

2. Practice keeping your clicker and treat hand motionless until after the click. Your dogs will quickly start focusing on your treat hand or clicker hand if it is moving. Keep it stationary until you click. Be like a statue … click, then go for the treat in your treat bag or give a treat that’s already in your hand.

Remember, your clicker is NOT a remote control. There is no need to point it at your dog for it to be effective. So keep it still.

3. Watch your dog! This is critical and cannot emphasized enough, you must be looking at your dog. Watch closely for the behavior you want your dog to repeat. Missed opportunities slow the learning process and can contribute to confusion and frustration.

4. Click DURING the behavior. Do not wait for the behavior to be completely finished.  If you do, you’ll probably click too late.

5. One click = One treat…if you click, you MUST treat. Even if you accidentally click, you must still treat.  The click is a promise that there will be a treat. Keep your promise and always give a treat.

buddysystem16. Practice your clicker timing without your dog present. Have a friend or family member help you practice with your clicker with your dog in another room or outside. Have them bounce a tennis ball, while you click each time it hits the floor. Or toss it in the air and click at the apex (the split second BEFORE it starts to drop). Or just watch them and clicker each time they blink their eyes. When watching the nightly weather forecast, click each time the weather person points at the national map. Any and all of these games will help hone your timing and observation skills. Now go ahead and start clicking. It’s Time to Change the World, One Click at a Time!!

Author: Dawn Pizzoferrato, ABCDT, owns and operates Pizzoferrato Pet-Care and Training Services (PPATS) and offers dog training classes at AnnaBelle’s Pet Station. Dawn’s classes, Doggie Do Good Beginner Clicker Training and Doggie Do Good Intermediate Clicker/Intro to CGC start Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Carol’s Corner – How to Reward Multiple Behaviors at the Same Time

Saturday, February 20th, 2010

Dear Carol,

We have talked about rewarding Nemo as strangers approach. My concern is that I am also trying to work with him on not pulling the leash when we’re walking. You taught us to use leash corrections and/or frequently reward the dog for maintaining a slack leash. If I am rewarding him frequently for maintaining a slack leash, but also rewarding him when strangers approach, won’t the messages be mixed? Does rewarding him for keeping a slack leash diminish the excitement about a reward when strangers walk by?

Thanks, Niya

Dear Niya,

I wouldn’t worry about sending Nemo a mixed message when rewarding both a slack leash and when strangers approach. It is true you cannot shape for more than one aspect of a behavior at a time(a straight and fast sit, for example). However, once you are getting a reliably straight sit (by way of example), you can then begin to selectively reinforce the faster responses to shape for fast sits. Once the sits are straight and fast, you could then shape for another aspect of the behavior if you wished, i.e., straight, fast and with eye contact. You can however, reinforce more than one behavior when you train. If Nemo gets rewarded when the leash is slack as well as when people approach, both behaviors will become stronger. There is merit in your concern that rewarding Nemo for maintaining a slack leash could diminish his excitement for the reward when strangers walk by. If he is highly motivated by the reward, it shouldn’t be much of a problem. If that’s not the case, you may want to set up situations where you and Nemo are stationary and you’re only rewarding him as people walk past. The distance between Nemo and the passerby should be such that Nemo is comfortable enough to stay at your side and eat the reward. If Nemo tries to hide behind your legs or refuses the treat, you are too close. In time and with practice, you will be able to move closer to the approaching person while still keeping Nemo comfortable, as the rewards will have changed the way Nemo feels about the situation. There are other things that can be done to make Nemo more comfortable with people and I would be happy to discuss this further next term.

See you soon, Carol

Carol Hein-Creger
Director of Training
Canine Training Center

Carol Hein-Creger has been training dogs and their owners for over 30 years. She has trained thousands of people, including many local dog trainers. Carol is currently teaching at AnnaBelle’s Pet Station in downtown Lansing. Check out her her upcoming class schedule. Do you have a training question for Carol? Send an email to with “Carol’s Corner” in the subject line or use the “Contact Us” form.

AKC Rally – No Pedigree Required!

Sunday, January 24th, 2010

Rally® focuses on the partnership between handler and dog. It is all about teamwork, communication and fun. In Rally, the dog and handler proceed at their own pace through a course of  designated stations.  Rally is the bridge between Canine Good Citizen® and Competitive Obedience. Read more here: All About Rally® from the American Kennel Club®:

Rally is a sport in which the dog and handler complete a course that has been designed by the rally judge. The judge tells the handler to begin, and the dog and handler proceed at their own pace through a course of designated stations (10 – 20, depending on the level). Each of these stations has a sign providing instructions regarding the next skill that is to be performed. Scoring is not as rigorous as traditional obedience.

Unlimited communication from the handler to the dog is to be encouraged and not penalized. Unless otherwise specified in these Regulations, handlers are permitted to talk, praise, encourage, clap their hands, pat their legs, or use any verbal means of encouragement. Multiple commands and/or signals using one or both arms and hands are allowed; the handler’s arms need not be maintained in any particular position at any time. The handler may not touch the dog or make physical corrections. At any time during the performance, loud or harsh commands or intimidating signals will be penalized.

What is Rally?

AKC Rally is the new dog sport that is taking the nation by storm, a successful stepping stone from the AKC Canine Good Citizen® program to the world of obedience or agility. Rally offers both the dogs and handlers an experience that is fun and energizing. The canine team moves at their own pace, very similar to rally-style auto racing. Rally was designed with the traditional pet owner in mind, but it can still be very challenging for those who enjoy higher levels of competition.

A rally course includes 10 to 20 stations, depending on the level. Scoring is not as rigorous as traditional obedience. Communication between handler and dog is encouraged and perfect heel position is not required, but there should be a sense of teamwork between the dog and handler. The main objective of rally is to produce dogs that have been trained to behave in the home, in public places, and in the presence of other dogs, in a manner that will reflect positively on the sport of rally at all times and under all conditions.

Eligibility – No Pedigree Required!

To be eligible to compete in AKC Rally trials, a dog must be registered with the AKC or listed with the AKC Purebred Alternative Listing/Indefinite Listing Privilege (PAL/ILP) program, or a Foundation Stock Service (FSS) recorded breed that meets the eligibility requirements for competition and 6 months of age or older. The Purebred Alternative Listing/Indefinite Listing Privilege (PAL/ILP): Dogs of any breed recognized by the AKC that do not have registration papers or known parents may qualify for a Purebred Alternative Listing/Indefinite Listing Privilege (PAL/ILP). PAL/ILP dogs may participate in certain AKC events, such as obedience, agility, tracking, rally and many performance events. Photos are required to prove the dog is a registerable breed. The dog must be spayed or neutered. For more information about the PAL/ILP program, visit the PAL/ILP section on the AKC web site, or e-mail questions to”

UPDATE: As of April 1, 2010, the AKC, through its Canine Partners program, now allows mixed breed dogs to compete in Agility, Rally, and Obedience events.

*Note:  The UKC (United Kennel Club) allows mixed breed dogs for either agility or rally, and some other performance based events: UKC Agility Rulebook and UKC Rally Rulebook.

Want to learn more and get your dog involved in Rally?  Carol Hein-Creger of the Canine Training Center is offering a beginning Rally class, starting September 20, 2011! Five week class is only $79. Sign up now – space is limited!

Carol Hein-Creger has been training dogs and their owners for over 30 years.  She has trained thousands of people, including many local dog trainers, and is a seasoned competitor and handler.  Carol is teaching at AnnaBelle’s Pet Station in Downtown Lansing.  Check out her her upcoming class schedule.

Carol’s Corner – Is Corrective Training Necessary to Train Effectively?

Wednesday, November 18th, 2009


Dear Carol:

Do you believe in using choke chains on dogs to teach them to obey?

Thanks for your time.

Kim B.

Hello Kim: Do I believe they can work? Absolutely. Dogs have been effectively trained for years using correction as an incentive to change their behavior. My initial background was based primarily on corrective training. However, in order for a correction to effectively change behavior, it must be consistently applied, timed correctly, and also be something the dog finds unpleasant enough that he wants to avoid it. Those criteria can be hard to meet.
Do I believe corrections or choke chains are necessary? Absolutely not. I learned years ago that the most effective training involves focusing on and reinforcing desired behaviors. I feel my responsibility as an instructor is to teach my students the most effective, humane training techniques possible. However, I try never to lose sight of the fact that the student’s background and personal beliefs will always have an impact on their training tendencies. My background is such that I can teach and discuss the pros and cons of each method or philosophy, enabling each student to determine which methods are right for them.
Thank you for your interest,
Carol Hein-Creger
Director of Training
Canine Training Center
Carol Hein-Creger has been training dogs and their owners for over 30 years.  She has trained thousands of people, including many local dog trainers.  Carol is currently teaching at AnnaBelle’s Pet Station in downtown Lansing.  Check out her her upcoming class schedule.
Do you have a training question for Carol? Send an email to with “Carol’s Corner” in the subject line or use the “Contact Us ” form.

Why Clicker Training?

Monday, August 24th, 2009

Author: Dawn Archer Pizzoferrato, ABCDT owns Arrow Dog Training and offers dog training classes at AnnaBelle’s Pet Station.

Usually the first question I am asked when tell people I offer clicker training is, “what is clicker training?” The answer to that is simple…It’s a dog training method using a clicker to mark the desired behavior.  That usually satisfies most askers, but the question most people have next is, “Why?”

Now THAT is a great question. Why clicker training? As with any training technique, clicker training has its proponents and opponents. Many trainers just don’t see the benefits of an additional tool to deal with, some trainers prefer a non-treat based reward and don’t like the clicker/treat connection, and some just don’t like positive reinforcement training. Whatever the reason for opposing clicker training, there is only one answer to “why” I favor the clicker training method…It works.

Karen Pryor, the godmother of clicker training in the United States, in her article, The Neurophysiology of Clicker Training, which covers research on stimuli and the limbic system of the animal brain, writes:

“… another contributing factor to the extraordinary rapidity with which the clicker and clicked behavior can be acquired might be that the click is processed by the CNS (central nervous system) much faster than any word can be. Even in the most highly-trained animal or verbal person, the word must be recognized, and interpreted, before it can ‘work,’ and the effect of the word may be confounded by accompanying emotional signals, speaker identification clues, and other such built-in information.”

clicker2So, in other words, this means that the clicker sound needs no interpretation. Once the dog learns that a treat follows a click and learns that to get a click he needs to do a requested behavior, he’s got it! You, however, still need to get the dog to DO the behavior. But if the dog is clicker trained, once he does the desired behavior and gets the click, he knows what you want from him and he will repeat it as often as you want. Clicker training is fastest way I have found to teach a dog a new behavior. And the more you use the clicker on new behaviors, the better and faster the dog will learn them. It has a positive cascading effect.

The other main reason that I use clicker training is because it’s fun. Dogs love the “game” of it. They seem to be less tired from training and show a stronger willingness to learn. It works wonderfully for shy or fearful dogs, because it gives them confidence.

In my view, the only downfall to successfully clicker training a dog is teaching the handler correct clicker timing. It can be tricky. In your hands, you have the clicker, the leash, the treat, AND you’re luring the dog AND you have click at the precise moment that your dog does the desired behavior. WHEW! That can be hard.  But like any new skill, practice makes perfect…just ask your dog! The timing of your click is extremely important because if you click too early, your dog hasn’t completed the behavior; if you click too late, then he’s on to something else. I often recommend practicing clicker timing separately from training with your dog just for this reason.

So, if you want to make training and learning fun for your dog, if you want to teach new behaviors quickly with better retention, or you simply want to learn a new training technique yourself, clicker training is definitely for you. Come join us at Annabelle’s Pet Station. Class size is limited. Six week class is only $109. Sign up today!

Learn More About Dawn  and How to Get Your Dog On Target!

Dawn is an Animal Behavior College Certified Dog Trainer, an experienced Nose Work Instructor, an AKC Canine Good Citizen evaluator, and the owner of Arrow Dog Training.

Dawn is AnnaBelle’s resident clicker training specialist and she can help you Get Your Dog on Target! Dawn uses scientifically proven “clicker training” and “free shaping” to teach your dog all the basics plus other fun, useful behaviors. She uses operant conditioning and positive reinforcement, without correction, to help you and your dog build a bond of trust and respect.

In addition to presenting Doggie Do Good clicker classes, Dawn also offers Nose Work classes, TDI® (Therapy Dog International) classes and in-home private training. Dawn’s group classes are taught at AnnaBelle’s on Tuesday and Wednesday evenings. Click here to see her complete class schedule!

The All Important Dog Walk!

Thursday, July 30th, 2009

Author: Dawn Archer Pizzoferrato, ABCDT, owner of Arrow Dog Training.

Most dog owners know that their dogs need exercise. But most don’t know how important this need is to the relationship between dog and owner and many dog owners don’t know how much and even more importantly what kind of exercise their dog needs.

There are all sorts of fallacies regarding exercise: Small dogs need less exercise and large dogs need more. If you have a large yard where your dog can run free, he will get enough exercise. If you play fetch with your dog for a few minutes each day your dog is getting plenty of exercise. Well, these are all false. There are many small breed dogs (Terriers come to mind) that need much more exercise than large breed dogs (Great Danes also come to mind). And in my opinion, a romp in the back yard after you come home from work with a few minutes of fetch is simply not enough exercise for most adult dogs.

Dogs need to walk. That’s what they do. Yes, they are great runners and absolutely love it, but walking (or a trot) is their natural pace for getting around in the world. So as the “Pack Leader” it is our responsibility to walk with our dogs. Did you notice I wrote, “walk with our dogs”? That’s because that is really how it should be. Your dog shouldn’t be pulling on you and you shouldn’t have to be pulling on your dog. It should be a calm, stress-free, relaxing yet focused time for both of you. When a group (pack) of dogs walk together they are bonding. They establishing and strengthening their roles in the pack.

So how do you make that happen? Well, first let’s discuss WHEN to walk your dog. It is my belief that dogs should be walked BEFORE being fed. I don’t think it matters whether it is in the morning or evening.  It just needs to be before they are fed. Why, Do you ask? I have two reasons. One-it is the natural order of things for dogs. A dog wakes up in the morning, goes for a walk “looking” for food, eats, then naps. Walking is how a dog “works” for it’s food. We all must work for our food, and so should your dog. No free-rides allowed. Two-If you have a dog prone to Bloat (the deadly problem when the stomach fills with air and can possibly twist), it’s important that your dog does not exercise after eating.

So you’re ready to walk, now is the time to start acting like a leader. It is important that you initiate the walk. If your dog is begging you to go walk and you do, who is the leader? Your dog is. Just wait (taking away your attention) until your dog is calm and make the walk a reward for it’s calm behavior. Now make your dog “sit” and be calm while you put on the leash. If your dog can’t sit still, put the leash down and walk away. When your dog is calmer, have her “sit”, then try again. This may take awhile the first time, so give yourself plenty of time so you can be patient. Pack Leaders do not lose their patience.

This might be a good time to talk about equipment. If your dog is capable of walking on a “loose” leash, all you need is a flat buckle collar and a regular 6-foot nylon or leather leash. I am not a fan of “Flexi leads”, choke chains or prong collars. If your dog is a puller or a lunger, a head collar or anti-pull halter (Halti, ControlEase, Gentle Leader or Canny Collar) is usually an instant fix. They provide a natural deterrent to pulling by making the head (or chest in the case of the halter) pull BACK when the dog is pulling forward. It is wonderful and preferable that your dog learns to walk on loose leash with just a flat collar. But it is perfectly acceptable to use and always use a head collar or anti-pull halter. It is important to know that a regular halter will actually PROMOTE pulling in dog that tends to pull. This is called “oppositional reflex” which causes them to pull against anything that’s pulling against them.

Donned with all the right equipment, you are now ready to proceed on your walk. But first you have to get out the door. Your dog should sit and WAIT for you to open the door. Allowing your dog to bolt out an open door again tells your dog that he is the leader. So ask your dog to “sit” then start to open the door. If your dog moves out of the “sit,” close the door, ask for a “sit” again then start to open the door again. You need to keep doing this until you can open the door all the way without your dog moving. Now go through the door AHEAD of your dog. From now on you will exit or enter a door AHEAD of your dog. Okay, now walk!

Are you walking beside your dog, “with your dog”? Or is your dog walking ahead of you, sniffing the ground, stopping to pee on every tree? If the former is true, just keep going; don’t stop for at least 2-3 blocks. If you sense your dog needs to relieve itself, YOU decide where and when. When your dog is done, start up again and walk. If you have a working dog, get a backpack and have him carry a couple bottles of water.  When you have a breed that was bread to work, you MUST fulfill that need in them. I have 3-4 different routes I take around my neighborhood and I alternate between them. This way my dogs have a slightly varied route everyday with different smells, sights and sounds. This helps keep them engaged while walking. Their brains will be working as much as their brawn.

If your dog pulls out ahead of you, stopping to sniff every tree, a quick collar correction before your dog gets to end of the leash is quite appropriate. But it must happen before there is any tension on the leash, be quick and strong enough to get your dog to IMMEDIATELY turn back to you and then you must immediately create slack in the leash again. If your dog is wearing a head collar or anti-pull harness, stop in place until your dog moves back towards you and takes the tension off the leash before proceeding forward. If pulling continues, stop, say “EH, EH” and change direction. Do this as often as necessary to stop any pulling. Same thing goes for a dog lagging behind, don’t wait for him, keep going and encourage with voice for them to catch up. Talk to your dog when he is doing a good job and keep your pace up. Your dog is more likely to keep up with you and to be less interested in extrinsic distractions if you are walking at a fun pace for your dog. Keeping up this pace will help keep your dog focused. When you have the perfect walk, you’ll know it.  You’re relaxed, you’re holding the leash gently, and there is plenty of slack on the leash. You are aware of your dog, but not focused on him. Your dog is aware of you, but also not focused on you. You each check in once in while, but you keep moving ahead.

Every walk, even for the smallest dog should last at least 20 minutes. If you have a larger or more energetic dog, they may need as much as an hour, twice a day. Your dog should have a good pant going on when you return home — where you enter through the door ahead of your dog.

Remember, your walk with your dog is your greatest opportunity to establish your leadership and to bond with your dog. It’s when you can live in the NOW with your best friend, and free yourself from all the junk you have to deal with the rest of your day. It’s one of the healthiest things you can do for yourself and your dog!

Learn More About Dawn & How to Get Your Dog On Target!

Dawn is an Animal Behavior College Certified Dog Trainer, an experienced Nose Work Instructor, an AKC Canine Good Citizen evaluator, and the owner of Arrow Dog Training.

Dawn is AnnaBelle’s resident clicker training specialist and she can help you Get Your Dog on Target! Dawn uses scientifically proven “clicker training” and “free shaping” to teach your dog all the basics plus other fun, useful behaviors. She uses operant conditioning and positive reinforcement, without correction, to help you and your dog build a bond of trust and respect.

In addition to presenting Doggie Do Good clicker classes, Dawn also offers Nose Work classes, TDI® (Therapy Dog International) classes and in-home private training. Dawn’s group classes are taught at AnnaBelle’s on Tuesday and Wednesday evenings. Click here to see her complete class schedule!

Article may not be reprinted without express written permission

Loose Leash Walking: “No Pulling, No Fooling”

Wednesday, July 15th, 2009

Author: Carol Hein-Creger, owner and director of the CANINE TRAINING CENTER

Dogs form their perceptions of people based on the messages they pick up on during every day life with each individual. Whether intended or not, people send messages to dogs with virtually every interaction, and the dog forms an “opinion” or perception of the person’s status based on those messages. This perception determines how the dog will interact with and respond to the person in question.

Even when dogs understand what’s expected of them, they generally won’t comply or respond to commands unless they view the person giving the orders as “higher ranking”, or, in other words, as an authority figure. This is evident when we see trained dogs fail to respond to certain individuals, often within the dog’s own family. This is because those individuals have failed to present themselves as authority figures to the dog, so even though they know what words or commands to say, the dog feels no sense of obligation to the person giving them.

Good, effective leaders have certain characteristics that mark them as leaders.  They don’t have a million rules, but the ones they do have are enforced emphatically. They are consistent. They are fair. They maintain an air of calm. They control access to all resources. They lead, and subordinates follow them.

When we allow dogs to pull us from place to place when on a leash, we effectively send the message that the dog is the leader and we are the follower, or, put in other terms, that we are subordinates to them. This greatly influences how they respond to us on several levels, including whether they respond to our commands or direction when there’s something else they’d rather do. In other words, when our behavior “tells” them we’re not in charge, they happily take over. Dogs innately understand that the one in charge gets to make the rules, and those that are not in charge must follow them.

Therefore, if you want to control your dog’s actions in general, you cannot allow him to drag you all over the place when he’s on a leash.

Below are three effective ways to teach your dog not to pull on a leash, each having their own specific pros and cons:

1. The fastest way to teach your dog not to pull on the leash is to apply a well timed, effective leash correction that PREVENTS your dog from getting to the end of the leash. For the correction to be effective, it must be

a. Applied proactively, BEFORE the dog pulls. The leash must be totally slack unless you are actively correction (including immediately prior to and immediately following the leash correction).

b. Firm enough that your dog wants to avoid it in the future. The level of correction necessary will vary depending on each dog’s level of sensitivity.

c. Applied consistently. This “no pull” rule must be enforced each and every moment your dog is on a leash. To do less will confuse your dog and force him to endure more corrections in the future.  Inconsistency on the handler’s part will result in inconsistency on the dog’s part.

In addition to the corrections, the dog must receive meaningful rewards when he maintains a slack leash. The best trainers focus just as much on rewarding the dog for maintaining a slack leash as on applying corrections effectively.

PROS: Leash corrections are generally the fastest way to teach your dog to stop pulling when on a leash. Following the criteria above, you will see great progress towards that end in just one or 2 training sessions. As the corrections change your dog’s behavior, you will quickly reach a point when corrections are no longer necessary.

CONS: The dog has to endure some corrections that he initially won’t know how to avoid. The correction technique requires practice to perfect. And finally, many dog owners are inconsistent in the correction’s application.

2. If when a dog pulls he is NEVER allowed to move forward in the direction he’s pulling, the pulling will diminish and eventually disappear as the dog learns that pulling doesn’t work. In order for this method to work the handler must follow these steps.

a. Whenever the dog begins to pull, regardless of his intended destination, the owner must immediately STOP and stand as still as statue, preventing the dog from moving even an inch in the direction he’s pulling.  This must be absolutely enforced every moment the dog is on a leash for any reason.

b. The dog must be HEAVILY rewarded, especially initially any time the leash is slack.

PROS: This method requires little skill on the part of the handler. It costs the dog nothing in terms of physical corrections.

CONS: This method can take a long time to teach a dog not to pull, depending on his motivation to move towards something as well as his history of reinforcement for pulling. If he’s been successfully pulling and reaching his intended destination for an extended period of time his pulling will have a long history of reinforcement, which will take much longer to extinguish. Therefore, this technique often works best with puppies that do not have a long history of reinforcement for pulling. Furthermore, to be effective, the handler must be willing to stop EVERY time the dog pulls, even if it’s raining, they’re in a hurry, or just going for a casual walk. Lastly, since the only consequence for pulling is that the dog is not allowed to move forward, this method requires a high frequency of reward in order to inspire the dog to change its’ behavior.

3. There are several devices on the market that when worn by the dog will greatly discourage the dog from pulling. These include head collars and no-pull harnesseseasywalkharnessThe head collars work under the premise that, like a horse, if we can turn the dog’s head in a particular direction, we can influence the body to follow. Like a horse halter, there is a loop that goes over the muzzle and another that fits up right behind the dog’s head. Many dog owners have discovered that a head collar gives them almost immediate “power steering”, enabling even youngsters to control large dogs. gentleleader2The no-pull harnesses generally inhibit the dog’s front legs from freely moving forward when he pulls, thereby changing his behavior over time.

PROS: Once the dog adjusts to them, these devices can quickly make a significant change in the dog’s pulling behavior with only a small investment on the part of the owner.

CONS: Especially in the case of the head collar, many dogs initially resist them, sometimes violently and it can take a significant period of time for the dog to adjust to it. Some dog owners are unwilling to put their dog through the adjustment period. Additionally, again in the case of head collars, some owners are afraid the device will be perceived as a muzzle by the general public and are uncomfortable with that possibility. Lastly, it can be difficult to transition dogs from these devices to traditional collars if the idea is to use them as a temporary training measure.

Want to learn more? Check out the current class schedule the Canine Training Center.

This article may not be used or reproduced in any manner whatsoever

without written permission from the Canine Training Center