Parking the Dog:
‘The Outdoor Settle’
This exercise is similar to the settle, in that we are looking for the same emotional state, i.e. calm and relaxed. The only difference is that the position (sit, down, stand) that the puppy is in is the puppy’s choice. For example, if you were outside and it was wet, muddy, or cold the puppy may not want to lie on the floor. This is ok just as long as the puppy is behaving in a calm manner.
As an example parking is useful when you are on a walk and you need to stop and have a conversation.
Parking outside requires a training lead. This is a lead that at full length is around 6ft but has links so that it can be clipped at different lengths. I recommend the Halti Training Lead.
The training lead enables you to keep the puppy safe and secure.
To park you need:
- To stand on the lead so it is under the ball of your foot.
- Enough lead from your foot to the dog’s collar or harness to give it freedom to sit, stand or lie down comfortably.
- Enough lead to still hold it in your hand in case the lead slips from under your foot.
Parking manages the puppy in three ways:
- The puppy cannot pull you around
- The puppy cannot lunge too far towards to another dog or person
- The puppy cannot jump up at you
The puppy needs help to learn how to behave when parked. We do this by quietly rewarding anything appropriate that the puppy might do. The reward is just a small piece of food, either given to the dog’s mouth or dropped on to the floor. It is important that you ignore the puppy, so that means there is no eye contact or verbal praise. The food alone should give the puppy the information we need to give it about its behaviour.
Think about what type of behaviour you would consider to be good. For example:
- Sitting quietly
- Standing quietly
- Lying quietly
- Looking around the room
- Looking at you
- Sniffing the floor
You need to reward all of these every time you see them so that your puppy understands what you expected of it.
If your puppy sits and the lead is tense because it sat back, just lift your foot and give the puppy a little more lead and reposition your foot making sure that there is a little more slack on the lead.
If you don’t reward your puppy it may get confused and/or frustrated and it may start to vocalise, pull or chew the lead. It is important that you don’t allow this to happen.
Some puppies can be very distracted and need some help. With this type of puppy I will park it and then just drop one treat after another onto the floor, just like when feeding in the settle, until it begins to think about what is happening, and then you can reward the dog for looking at you, standing, sniffing etc.
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Copyright Jane Ardern BSc (Hons) 2019