You know the feeling- absolute dread, panic, sheer terror- as your dog runs across the street chasing a ball right into oncoming traffic. Chances are your dog will be completely unfazed as the cars whizz by him, narrowly missing him. As you recover from the near death experience, you start to think that there must be some way to teach your dog to never ever step off the curb again...
The good news is that there is a way to train your dog to stay out of the street without the use of shock collars and other methods of punishment! With consistency, follow through and a lot of repetition you can train your dog to stay out of the street and waiting on a curb until he hears a cue to step of
f of the curb.
There is more
involved in the process than there is dog training. The
is to teach yourself to stop at every curb, wait for your dog to sit and look at you, and then to always give the cue to your dog when it's time to step off of the curb. From this point forward, you and your dog will always be aware of curbs, pausing at them and giving signals to continue walking. You will know that you have trained yourself well when you are going for a stroll with your boyfriend and accidentally stop at the curb and give the cue to your bf that he's now allowed to step off the curb. ; ) But, man training is a whole other story! Back to curb training...
is to 'show' your dog what you expect him to do at the curb. By this time you have probably already taught your dog to "sit", "look" and "wait", so now it's time to put these cues to good use. It's best to start with a curb in front of your house. Walk Snoopy up to the curb and ask him to sit. Turn around and then approach the curb again. Ask Snoopy to sit again. Repeat this several times and give your dog lots and lots of praise for stopping and sitting at the curb. Repeat this exercise until your dog starts to automatically sit when you approach and wait at the curb.
Once your dog sits automatically, say "Good sit!" and get really, really happy! Why? Because your dog's brilliant brain is right on track for learning to stay out of the street! Sounds easy enough right? But not so fast, there are a few more steps...
Once your dog is starting to reliably and automatically approach a curb and will sit without you cuing him to, with a flat hand out towards your dog, tell him to "wait" and as you step off the curb tell Snoopy, "Good wait!" and give him a treat for not following you. Step back up onto the curb and give Snoopy another treat for not stepping off the curb with you. This is the time to get very happy again! Why? Because curb training is fun!
If your dog steps off the curb with you, you may have to back up a bit and work more on "wait" without stepping off the curb. Or you may have to just briefly step off the curb and return very quickly to give your dog a "Good wait!" and a treat. But wait! What do you do if your dog does step off the curb with you? You can mark the unwanted behavior with a "Uh uh!", withhold a treat and herd your dog back out of the street and up onto the curb. As soon as your dog is back up on the curb return to his side and tell him, "Good sit!". Then try again and remember that dog training is all about breaking behaviors down into small steps that can be linked together through proper timing and lots of positive feedback. If your dog "messes up" it's more likely that you messed up so swat yourself on your bum.
Ok! So once your dog is happily sitting and waiting on the curb while you slowly step off, you can now move onto
. Step three is to simply reward Snoopy with lots of "Good wait!" and lots of treats for staying out of the street and for staying up on the curb. Give your dog at least three treats (a jackpot!) and then extend the time that you stay in the street, then return to your dog's side and give him another treat. (Just as a disclaimer, there are no excuses anymore for the I-don't-want-my-dog-to-get-fat people. You can now use a Lickety Stik by PetSafe that is only 1 calorie per 10 licks or you can use the tiniest piece of treat (freeze dried liver, cheese, deli meat, chicken) as long as it is soft and smells good/bad depending on who you are asking.) By this time your dog should be extremely happy to stay out of the street and is happily waiting for lots of praise on the curb. You should be able to walk back and forth along the curb without your dog stepping into the street.
is very exciting! Once your dog is automatically sitting, waiting and looking at you whenever he approaches the curb, with Snoopy right by your side eagerly say, "Let's go!" and make a grand gesture of inviting him to step off the curb with you. You can make your cue and your hand signal whatever you like. If you want to say, "Elephant!" and do spirit fingers you are more than welcome to do that as long as you promise to do this for the rest of your dog's life at every single curb that you two will ever come across no matter where you are. I like to say, "Let's go!" and point across the street because even when
I'm not walking with my dogs and I'm walking with a group of people, I don't get as many weird looks when I automatically accidentally do it whenever I cross the street. It's good to point across the street because it has been scientifically proven that dogs are very adept to pointing gestures and will follow your point and move in that direction. Praise your dog when he steps off the curb, but never ever give your dog a treat while he is in the street. After all, the street is a very bad place where no dog should ever linger, so good things like treats and playing in the street should never take place there. Once your dog is out of the street, you can turn around and approach the curb again, wait for your dog to sit automatically, wait and look up at you for his cue. Once these things happen, you can very happily say, "Good wait! Let's go!" and cross the street again.
is to continue proofing your dog to stay out of the street using a long line of at least 12 ft and a few distractions like a ball or a toy. Walk your dog up to different parts of the curb and continue practicing the approach with an automatic sit and automatic wait as you step off the curb. Continue to praise and treat your dog profusely for choosing to stay out of the street. Then randomly drop your dog's toy in the street. If your dog decides to stay on the curb, give your dog a treat and tell him "Good wait!". If he goes a
fter the toy, tell him "Uh uh!" and herd him out of the street and take the toy out of the equation. Try again once your dog has calmed down and is ready to try again. Keep working on this until you are able to roll a ball into the street, have another dog walk by, throw hot dog in the street, dance in the street, and just about do anything crazy and distracting, with your dog happily waiting on the curb.
is to wean your dog off of treats, which happens naturally because just the act of moving in forward motion is a reward for a dog because they are so excited to keep moving ahead in life to smell new things! Wait patiently for Snoopy to sit and wait at the curb and as soon as your dog does, praise him profusely and happily say, "Let's go!". You can even add in some running steps and run out of the street, which your dog will think is really fun and will teach your dog to get out of the street quickly. You can reward your dog just by telling him, "Ok, go ahead and allowing him to stop and check his pee-mail on the other side of the street.
is vow to always wait at all of the curbs with your dog and to always tell him when it is safe to leave the curb with a "Let's go!". This means that anyone who ever walks your d
og must also know that you are dedicated to keeping your dog safe and that Snoopy must keep his street smarts in tact by always waiting and sitting at the curb for a "Let's go!".
See?! Curb training is fun and keeping your dog safe around streets is not a joke! But this is...
"Why did the dog cross the road?"
"He didn't cross the road because his owner trained him not to!" : )