On my way to work the other day, I saw a thing of beauty. A young woman wearing a down vest, knit hat, with her hair pulled back in a ponytail had a leash in one hand and a coffee in the other. Both she and her dog (which was prancing in a perfect heel) were taking their morning walk down Lake Michigan Dr. They were a team, both enjoying their morning routine.

I love seeing dogs working with their owners as if it was a dance. When it comes to people and their dogs, that is what I admire. A dog being a dog without causing any undo stress with its owner.

Getting dragged around by a dog does not look like fun, and does not appeal to me. Peoples shoulders, back, arms and legs should not be getting a workout because their dog is pulling them down the street.

I was at a pet store today answering dog training questions. Dog after dog came into the store straining at their leash and the owners were putting up with it. I had one customer ask, “How do I get my dog to stop barking? I don’t want to put a collar on it.” I said that, if barking is the only issue I recommend a no bark collar.” She said she didn’t want to do that, and I replied, “Then you’ll have to put up with your dog’s barking.”

I feel sorry for that woman’s neighbors. As a police officer, I have issued a fair number of citations for barking dog complaints. Think of it this way – if your child was yelling the F-word all the time, there would be consequences. You would teach your child that it is not acceptable behavior. A nuisance barking dog is the same thing; it’s about being a responsible dog parent.

Why do some people put up with their dog’s bad behavior, and other people do something about it? I have had people tell me that when they correct their dog, he looks sad. You know what? When my kids get in trouble, they look sad too. But they get over it. Be consistent and your dog will get over it too.

Dogs love routine. Stick with the same rules all of the time and they become routine, and the dog doesn’t know anything different. Here’s an example. When I go through a door with my dogs, they have to sit first, and then follow me through the door. When I am walking them and I stop, they must sit. I do not have to tell them to sit, they sit automatically at doors and when we stop because it’s their routine.

When we have dinner, the dogs lay down in the living room. They are not in the dining room when we eat. Routine. Every evening my dogs will pick a Nylabone out of their toy box and carry it to the living room where they chew on it for 20 minutes. I never taught them to do this, but this is their routine. Dogs love routine.

Back to the woman walking her dog. The dog walks next to her without jerking the leash and spilling her coffee because that is how they do it every day, all day long. It has become routine for the dog; the dog doesn’t know any other way.

Almost every dog that comes to our training facility is a leash puller. The very first thing we teach the dog is to follow. Once they learn to follow, then we teach to walk next to us. At first, the dog may look sad because, all of the sudden, the routine of leash pulling is getting interrupted. They are learning a new way to walk on a leash. By the second week, their tail is wagging because they know the routine and it is easy. Now, walking the dog is a joy rather than a pain and both the handler and the dog are happy.

If you are struggling to teach your West Michigan dog some basic manners and obedience, you are not alone. My staff at Adams K-9 are passionate about what they do, and love teaching dogs the routine of a happy life. If you need help with your dog’s routine, please contact us and in just a few days we’ll stop the pulling. Through our training program, you’ll have off-leash reliability within two weeks.

Contact us at Adams K-9 today. Love your dog, love your dog’s behavior.


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