Animal Care Clinic Behavioral Tips

Nov 23, 2009 5:56 PM by Bonnie Markoff, DVM, ABVP

Walk the Dog

I think we should end the series on "Marley" type behavior problems with a note about walking your dog.

You may recall the dog in the movie walking his owners, rather than vice versa, at times wondering if someone's arm would become dislocated. Pulling on the leash may be the most common behavior complaint we hear.

Most dogs are curious and excited to experience the world, so they naturally want to run to greet each new vision or smell. We must teach dogs to walk gently on a leash and do all we can to prevent pulling from becoming a bad habit.

Puppy kindergarten classes are a great place to learn positive methods to reinforce good behavior on leash.

If you own a dog that has already learned to pull, you CAN teach him to walk nicely.

Choke collars are only helpful if used properly - most people use collars that are too long and then put them on upside down, making them ineffective. Prong collars can be more fair than a "choke chain" or slip collar, but these too are often misapplied and can be quite cruel in some instances. Halter type collars, such as the Gentle Leader seen here, are very effective, but many dogs resent wearing them.

I prefer to see people use operant conditioning ("Clicker Training") with the one-on-one help of an experienced dog trainer. This takes time and effort, but is the most rewarding.

If you have a pet with a behavior problem, give us a call. Our Dr. Evans has a special interest in behavior. We are open M-F 7:30-6, Sat 9-3 and Mondays until 8pm.

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