I was dog training in Bristol, RI yesterday when an amazing thing happened. It was completely unexpected. People cheered, they smiled, they were excited by what they saw. What was this incredible event? What had people excited and optimistic?
Simple... the sun came out. And the change in people was noticeable.
You see, I was on the Bristol bike path when it happened. As we were standing there everyone who passed was smiling, cheery, and talkative. But what they were most impressed with was Henley, a one-year old Goldendoodle who was doing “mostly” off-leash training. I say mostly because he was attached to a long line as we were working him. He could have been completely off-leash but his owner was still a little leery. And being the gentle and understanding trainer that I am, I did not push the issue. I did tell her at next week’s lesson he was going completely off-leash for the entire training session.
You may be thinking or wondering how you can get your dog completely off-leash and not freak out that you are going to have to spend the day chasing your dog around town. Since you faithfully show up here I am going to share the secret to off-leash training with you. This advice has been passed down through generations of dog trainers, it has been carefully guarded and only a few fortunate, lucky ones have been handed the ancient scroll it is preserved on. Sharing it with you puts me at odds with the ancient masters of dog training but I know you are bursting to understand what it is.
Here are the five simple words which can help your dog go from crazy and out of control to complete off leash freedom:
“You have to punish for failure.”
Some of you are thinking: “That’s it? This Letendre guy is a chump.” Others are thinking “PUNISH for failure? What a terrible, inconsiderate, awful cad!” (Who uses the word “cad” anymore?) Anyway, pull your chair closer and lean in so I can share the secret. If you learn to use and apply it, your dog can also go off-leash and still listen to you. If you choose to ignore this info, your dog will be in DANGER every time he is off-leash.
This will be hard for some of you to accept but it is the truth. If you aspire to do off-leash training with your dog, he can NOT ignore your commands. Your dog has to respond and if there is failure to respond on your dog’s part you will have to apply PUNISHMENT.
Before you send angry emails calling me an inconsiderate cad (there’s that word again) let me splain that I am actually trying to save your dog’s life. Last week I was working with two beagles during a group obedience class. The owner assured me beagles do not come when called. I disagreed, all dogs respond to the principles of behavior. We had worked on come when called and they responded well on leash. I asked the owner to let the beagles off-leash. The first beagle, named Joel, quickly ran to a large rock and began sniffing the ground like any good beagle would. The owner called Joel to come. Joel ignored her. I told the owner to firmly say, “JOEL, NO.”
Using my years of experience and cat like reflexes, I applied a perfect, well-timed negative consequence, AKA punishment. Joel immediately stopped what he was doing. I asked the owner to then say, “COME,” and Joel raced to him. Once Joel came to the owner I asked him to let Joel go so we could repeat the process. Joel and his sister, Buela, were successfully, consistently going back to the owner off-leash with no hesitation.
I did NOT use an electronic collar, choke, or prong collar to apply punishment. And some of you cynics out there are thinking I am made this up. Which is why I am happy to share the video with you. Punishment is a very taboo subject in today’s politically charged society. It is very misunderstood and the mere mention of it will make many bristle. If all you needed were treats, beagle owners everywhere would let their dogs off-leash and offer up a slice of hot dog to get them back. That doesn’t happen.
Punishment and negative consequences are an important process when it comes to dog training. Use a balance of positive and negative consequences in your training and your dog will be off-leash in no time.
Anyway, the video of the beagles is on my Facebook page. Give my page a like and watch the video. Amazing Dog Training Man's Facebook Page.