This article is about the first week of training your dog, using a basic method that was originated by Mr. William Koehler, a respected animal trainer. His first week’s long-line method (slightly changed here) should be highly praised as one of the greatest innovations in canine training.
Regardless of how basic and unpromising these first week steps may seem, follow them carefully and exactly and you will have a more obedient dog, one that will learn easier and faster.
Let The Training Begin
On your first day of training, take your dog to the backyard, sidewalk, or park (only if it provides little or no distractions). Put the training collar on your dog, making sure that it’s fitted correctly. Tie one end of the long-line to the free ring. Holding the other end of the long-line in your hands, pick a spot at a distance of about thirty to forty-five feet. It could be a tin can, a fire hydrant, or a particular patch of grass. Walk fast in a straight line to that spot. Determine to let nothing stand in your way, especially your dog and its tricks.
If your dog has had no form of control placed over it, you can bet there’ll be tricks. It may start wailing, which means that it would prefer to go in some other direction and you are not cooperating.
It might roll over on its back and place all four feet in the air, which means it doesn’t particularly want to walk with you because you’re not going to the direction it wants. Your dog may even try to rest directly in front of you, which simply means that you forgot to ask its permission to walk and it would prefer you to stand still until it has made up its mind.
In training your dog, you need to remember one thing. You are training your dog, not the other way around.
Regardless of your dog’s tricks, and with the end of the long-line held firmly in your hand, walk to the destination that you’ve chosen. As Mr. Koehler expresses “Your dog will go with you, if for no other reason than to be near you”.
That first sixty seconds of training (the time it takes you to walk thirty to forty-five feet), may indeed be a test of wills. It is crucial that your dog develop assurance that you will win this test of wills. It will develop this assurance if it knows that you will go from point A to point B without considering its resistance.
By the time you reach your predetermined location, the learning processes will have already been triggered within the mind of your dog. Simply stand there for about forty-five seconds to a minute. Look around and observe everything around you except your pet. Do not look at your dog. Doing so might possibly get you hopelessly entangled in an emotional struggle.
When your forty-five seconds to one minute is up, pick another spot at about the same distance and without warning or tugging on the leash to get your dog’s attention, walk at a brisk pace to it. Again, do not let your dog stand in your way. If you have to clear your throat or in some manner catch your dog’s attention before moving, then your dog is doing a great job of training you.
Don’t ask your dog’s permission to walk, just go! When you reach your spot, pause again for about forty-five seconds to observe your surroundings – but not your dog. Again, pick a location and without any warning, walk to it at a brisk pace. Continue this process for the full fifteen-minute training session.