Tips From a Trainer

We have partnered with Ashley Parker, a professional dog trainer, to answer some of our audience’s dog-related questions. As a trainer for over three years and working in the animal welfare industry for ten, she’s given advice on leash pulling, total recall, and more. Read about Ashley and her dog training tips below:

I started off my career as a veterinary assistant while in college, I took some time off to focus on my studies while working part-time in doggie daycare, and upon graduating I became an admission/transfer counselor at a local SPCA. It was at the shelter that I found my passion for dog training when I adopted a challenging dog that likely would not have found a home without an experienced handler. That coincided with the realization that more dogs would remain in their homes or would have better chances of adoption with some basic obedience and manners.

1. How do I get my dog to stop pulling on her leash?

The walk starts the moment you’ve leashed up your dog, which is typically at the door. I teach clients a sit with focus before moving through the threshold. Meaning instead of having your dog drag you through the door, you have them sit and wait for permission. This creates an important precedent where your pup then learns to check in with you before acting compulsively. I then keep a short leash, announce “heel” and reward them when they’re walking politely at my side. When they begin to pull, I turn around in the opposite direction. I allow my dog designated breaks to sniff, potty, and enjoy the walk, but once I’ve decided to move on, I repeat the heel command and resume our structured walk.

2. Is it okay to have one bully stick per day?

I love using enrichment toys and treats! However, follow the dietary recommendations given to you by your vet. Every dog has a different caloric intake and nutritional needs!

3. Best advice for total recall?

I recommend patterning recall using a long line while using food motivators. Meaning, you would call your dog (reeling the long line to you if needed) and reward them for coming all the way to you. Training is all about repetitions to set a strong foundation. As your pet gets better, always verbally praise them for doing the right thing, but withhold the food reward for only when they’ve completed the command on the first try. This ensures they’re learning/retaining the command and are not just listening out of convenience for the food reward. Practice in a controlled inside environment, and then work up to other environments progressively more challenging with distractions until it’s consistent. Recall is a lifesaving technique and an incredibly important skill. If your recall is not consistent, use a long line to help keep your dog safe!



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