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This Ventura Dog Trainer Takes Her Own Advice

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For the past month or so this Ventura dog trainer has been spending more time training her own dog Poncho to “run” while on leash, versus sniffing/marking/shuffling along… I know he is a dog, and dogs enjoy doing those things. I would never ever want to deny Poncho his normal doggy-like behaviors, but I also want him to get some exercise – outside of the yard – that doesn’t involve fetching his toys and going nuts when the mail-truck comes by…(yep, that behavior is a tough one, and another post…) 

My hubby (Poncho’s rockin’ “Disneyland” dad) takes him out all the time here in Ventura, but he allows Poncho does whatever he wants…again, no real “training” involved. So how can I expect Poncho to know what to do when neither of us has ever taught him…. So I did, and I have to say, it’s been going great! Being a runner myself, it’s been very rewarding for me… we’re working up to a 5K to run together…if we can find a course that allows dogs… Santa Barbara is usually good for this…I’ll have to check with the Santa Barbara Running Club
Anyway, I had realized that Poncho wasn’t great at running on leash, because he’s never been trained to do so! I always tell my students, “if your dog isn’t performing a certain behavior, ask yourself ‘Have I ever taught them?‘ ” Duh! Hello? No, I haven’t taught him! Maybe I should!!! Poncho loves when I listen to what I tell my own manners class students… And so I have, and we’re progressing quite nicely. 
This is how I’ve done it:
  • Reward what I want: in this case, it’s “running” next to me. 
  • “Click and treat” for “running” motion. 
  • Feed for position: provide the reward with him still next to me, not falling back behind me or crossing in front of me. 
  • Use high value rewards: chicken, leftover grilled sirloin. Only when he’s in running mode
  • Use kibble for walking but moving forward…
  • Allow sniff breaks here and there (so I can rest)… 
If you ever want to join me and Poncho, we’ve mostly been going to Kimball Park here in Ventura because there are very few interruptions and loose dogs. I’ll be the one rewarding my dog for running – cheering him on and handing out goodies – sort of like the aid stations at races, but instead of Gatorade and energy gels, I hand out chicken… Geez, I hope they have meat at the races… muffin crumbs work too. 

One Response

  1. WOW! Sounds like a plan indeed! Good luck and I hope we can join you at some of your favorite dog-friendly places in Ventura soon!

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