Do you find it difficult to walk your dog but feel that you have tried everything?
Well, the good news is that as much as he may not seem it sometimes, your dog is smart... very smart, and the saying 'you can't teach an old dog new tricks' is a myth!
Sometimes we feel we have literally tried everything but I can promise you that there are still options.
Firstly, I would like to go through a common mistake that tends to be forgotten when teaching new commands to dogs.
This is… Positive re-enforcement
It is imperative that every bit of training you do is followed by positive reinforcement. Think about it from your dogs perspective… why would they do something you ask if it is not fun and rewarding!
Positive reinforcement is most commonly given through rewarding with a treat or by patting and excitement. Rewards must be immediate and your training must be done the same each time. The key isrepetitivenesss and consistency.
Now, the next time you take your dog for a walk, keep some treats in you pocket. Not the pocket on the same side that you walk your dog as he will likely sniff them out!
With a treat in hand and your dog sitting on your left side, hold a treat down beside your knee (or the height of your dog's nose) and step forward with your left foot first saying ‘heel’. Your left foot is one indication that it is time to walk and your command ‘heel’ is the other.
Do not give him the treat! This is key! You walk with him trying to get the treat from your hand. Yes, this is awkward and now is the benefit of owning a Great Dane.
Start off by only walking a short distance, a few meters. Then, once you have walked a short distance, ask him to sit and once he does give him the treat immediately. It is important that he gets the treat as soon as his bum hits the ground in the sit position.
The treat in your hand will be what your dog focusses on and as you do this more and more your dog will learn that it is enjoyable to walk beside you, not in front of you.
Keep working on this and extending the distance you walk. Once he starts getting good and really understanding the exercise you can start slowly reducing the use of treats.
This will not happen overnight and will take alot of patience from you, and it must always be done with positive re-inforcement. If you find yourself becoming frustrated, STOP. Your dog will sense your frustration and feed off of that, which will turn the experience from a positive one to a negative one.
If you have honestly tried this will no success and still find your dog very difficult to walk, then I would recommend you inlist in a local canine training school. There may be an underlying behavioural issue.
A training school will not only teach socialisation but will also allow you to discuss what is and is not working for you with a qualified trainer.
Training classes are always fun for both the owner and the dog.
I would love to hear any feedback or experiences that you have!