This is where handlers start to practice soft, active hands!
Get the treats, dog, clicker, leash, collar. Then have a seat to rest after all that activity!
The goal for this step is to get the dog to move and keep moving until the pressure is released. The handler uses pressure as a cue, not as a device to haul the dog around, so that means that when the dog turns their head towards the pressure, the handler has to move their own hand a tiny bit to maintain the same amount of pressure on the lead. This is the opposite of trying to force the dog to move through leash pressure, it's just an extension of what we did yesterday. It's important not to ramp up the pressure because what you are teaching the dog is that the featherweight of pressure on the leash is an important cue to pay attention to.
The handler applies the cue and waits for the dog to respond. At this stage, it may well take the dog awhile to notice the cue and respond. That is perfectly okay. For dogs who have been pulling for a period of time (YEARS for some of them!), it is going to take them awhile to re-calibrate what it is that they pay attention to. Give them time to think and to figure out the correct response.
You are looking for the dog to move about twice as far as they did the first time in order to relieve the pressure. If the dog turned their head a quarter of an inch to relieve the pressure, then the handler applies the cue until the dog has turned their head a half inch.
If the dog was stepping toward the pressure in order to relieve it, then it's just a matter of applying pressure for a little longer before releasing it.
If your dog doesn't seem to notice the pressure, you may up the ante just a tiny bit by vibrating the leash with your fingers. Remember the chick's heart and move your fingers no more than that chick's heart would move in beating!
M. Shirley Chong
Grinnell Iowa USA
Saturday, February 09, 2008 8:59 pm