By Lisa Moore – firstname.lastname@example.org
Q. I have a puppy who will not walk on a leash. Each time I try to walk her, she just lays down and won’t move. Any suggestions? Dawn
A. You bet, Dawn! The best course of action is to break the activity down into small, achievable pieces.
First, pair the presence and the clipping of the leash (make sure the weight of the clip and leash is very light) onto her collar with pleasant things, such as treats. For example, when she’s hungry and its time to offer her a meal, start with a few treats in your hand, and feed them to her one at a time while in the other hand you bring the leash into view. When she concentrates more on the treats than the leash, snap it to her collar, then immediately put her food bowl down so she can enjoy a meal. After a few meals, when she is no longer concerned about the leash being attached, move on to the next step.
Second, leave the leash attached to her collar when she is in the house with you. If she is hesitant to move around with it attached, give her a reason to by scattering numerous yummy treats around the floor. This way, as she gets up and moves, she will immediately receive her own reward. Don’t put any pressure on her to move – she will when she’s ready. The best thing you can do is load the environment with tantalizing things, then move away and give her time to get comfortable with it. When she gets to the point where she is comfortable dragging the leash around as if it isn’t even there – and this could take anywhere from a few minutes to a number of days, move on to step three.
Lastly, with the leash still attached to her collar, and her moving around with it comfortably, get a handful of treats, and go to the leash and pick it up. Then, using your treats to lure her into moving forward, walk a few steps with her before delivering a treat. Repeat, walking a few steps alongside her in whatever direction she wants to go, followed by a treat. Gradually begin walking in the direction you want to go, luring her with goodies to encourage her to walk at your side. If at any time she puts on the brakes, resist the urge to pull on the leash, as this will create a negative experience and end your progress. Instead, keep slack in the leash and encourage her to move forward again with a cheery voice and treats within easy reach.
Generally speaking, this initial fear or concern over walking on a leash is either a result of having a negative experience in the beginning – like being tugged to move, or just a naturally timid or somewhat fearful puppy. Either way, think of the big picture – you will want to enjoy pleasant activities on leash with your dog for the next decade or so, so building a solid foundation of pleasant experiences with the leash is paramount to your long term success.
Q. I have asked numerous people in the dog world, and gotten conflicting answers, so I’m asking you – is a Doodle an actual breed of dog? Ted
A. No, Ted, a ‘doodle’ – labradoodle, goldendoodle, schnoodle, etc. – is a mixed breed. So are a yorkiepoo, maltipoo and dorgi, for that matter. (Making up a cute name does not make it a pure-bred or expensive dog.) A poodle is bred to a Labrador or golden retriever or schnauzer, etc., and for some reason, the result is a mutt that people pay ridiculous amounts of money to own. Because these are mixed-breed dogs, there is a lot of variance in the puppies in terms of coat length and texture, size and temperament.
We have many ‘doodles’ at our business and in our training classes and, of course, like all dogs, they are adorable. Each one is different, and some are structurally sound while others are not. Some have great temperaments, and others do not. Of big concern is the indiscriminate breeding practices. Reputable owners of pure-bred dogs have their breeding stock tested and certified clear from hereditary diseases (hip and elbow dysplasia, heart and eye abnormalities, etc.), so the consumer can make informed decisions regarding buying a healthy dog. This doesn’t often occur when breeding mixed breeds. As these combinations of breeds become more popular, it will be interesting to see what hereditary health and temperament issues develop. I do know for certain that there are plenty of mixed-breed and pure-bred dogs available at low cost at shelters and rescue organizations across the country.
Lisa Moore’s pet-behavior column appears once a month on the Pet Page. Write to her in care of LifeStyles, The Modesto Bee, P.O. Box 5256, Modesto 95352.