Saturday, March 26, 2011

Gentle Leader Training

Tugging while wearing the gentle leader

Running and playing

Finally - attaching the leash and walking with me - I don't let them drag the leash with the leader on though.
I have been getting Sunny used to the gentle leader for a couple weeks now.  I started by hanging it on her nose and giving her treats while I did that.  I did a couple small sessions each day.  Then I progressed to snapping it on and letting her wear it while we played out in the field and got her tugging while wearing the head halter.  I kept everything associated with it very positive.  Once Sunny got used to the halter I began the next step.  A couple days ago I attached a leash to the gentle leader and worked in very short sessions getting her used to walking with me.  Now, I have already been shaping Sunny's side walking (both sides) with a clicker and treats - with and without a leash attached to her collar - so the concept of staying with me is not new to her.  But I have also been letting her be a puppy and explore her world with a harness on, and not asking for focus on  me in distracting situations.  But the time has come to start getting more attention on me and the gentle leader is a fabulous tool for this!

I am a huge fan of the gentle leader - but you have to have understanding of the tool to use it well.  I use the gentle leader when I want the dog to focus on me and I am "working" with the dog.  I don't use it on a long line or flexi - ever!  And I will also work on fading the use of the gentle leader over time, so eventually I will be able to have the same amount of control on a flat collar.  Through adolescence the gentle leader is so helpful in keeping the pup's focus on me and it also helps to calm a dog in exciting and distracting situations.  Eventually the puppy will lose their "puppy license" and they need to learn to focus on their handler :-D  Over the next couple months there will be less emphasis on socializing and more time spent focusing on me in public and at trials.