Luke was a high energy, working breed dog who just hit his teenager years. Adopting a dog like him would be a handful – even for a certified animal trainer and certified dog behavior consultant like Beverley McKee, Toronto Humane Society’s Public Training Services and Care Support Program Manager. But by taking a systematic approach to his training, Luke was able to overcome his challenges and has earned multiple titles in his favourite sports. Here is Luke’s training journey.
Although Luke was a happy and social pup, but he showed some leash reactivity when he was around other dogs. Leash reactivity is common when dogs are frustrated, and a lack of training causes them to pull on leash as well which then contributes to even more frustration. Luke was hard to control on leash and was no fun to walk with when he was first adopted.
To help Luke feel more comfortable while on a leash, Beverley focused on teaching strong loose leash walking skills without distractions and then introduced distractions incrementally. First, ensuring he could walk calmly with food and toy distractions, and then introducing stuffed toys as dog decoys.
Once that step was mastered, Luke was introduced to Jynx, a small social dog owned by another one of Toronto Humane Societies certified trainers Louise Lawrence. Together they went on buddy walks. Their walks started at a distance from each other, and gradually they were able to walk on a leash beside each other.
Positive reinforcement and association were used throughout Luke’s training. This gave him a positive conditioned emotional response to being on a leash around other dogs. He learned that if he disengaged from other dogs on a leash, he would be rewarded with his favourite, yummy treats.
He also learned through a process of social facilitation. This is a process in which an animal learns through observation of another same species animal’s behaviour.
Luke was enrolled in Toronto Humane Society’s Intermediate Obedience Skills class, and then in Rally Obedience and Scent Detection classes. These were wonderful classes for Luke. Not only did he receive enrichment, but he was also able to “play” his two favourite sports while in the presence of other dogs. This served to further increase a positive conditioned response to other dogs. Luke learned that being in the presence of other dogs meant fun things would happen!
Today, Luke has earned multiple titles in both sports and is working towards his Championship titles. He also participates in similar leash reactivity training with Beverley’s clients to help provide other dogs with a positive leash walking experience.
You can follow Luke’s adventures on Instagram here.
We strongly believe that creating positive experiences through training is an essential foundational steppingstone in behaviour modification. Toronto Humane Socety offers private and group class curriculums to meet the needs of all clients. Each client is an individual, and our variety of services reflect their needs and capabilities every step of the way.
If you would like to explore the fun and reinforcing experience of dog sports, we also offer Intermediate Obedience Skills, Introduction and Novice Level Rally Obedience and Introduction and Started Level Sporting Scent Detection classes.
Additionally, we offer Foundation Skills Tier 1 as a prerequisite, and a supplementary Loose Leash Walking Skills group class for added practice and fluency. If your dog is not ready for group classes, we can provide private training to build those blocks.
Our Public Training team will be very happy to welcome you! Sign up for training class, or consultation, here.
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