What Drive are you Working in?

Cynthia at TipTail posted about a good training session she had with her dog Chase.   I don’t know much about the method of training she’s using to teach “heel”, but I do know it’s very different than the one I use.  Sounds like she uses a stick on her wrist with a treat on it to keep the dog’s head where it should be.

 Now, I’m not saying this is wrong or ineffective…. just that it goes contrary to what I’ve learned (it may work perfectly well….  I don’t know)

When we teach heeling in the Volhard Method we use “passive use of the leash”.  Meaning the dog is wearing a training collar (often the “Volhard Snap Around” or a properly fitted prong collar <–only for some dogs) and the leash is held in control position.  (All but a few feet of the leash rolled up in the right hand.  Right hand on right hip. The leash is held in the left fist which is also on the hip.    The dog is on the left side.. the clip of the leash is hooked to the training collar and the clip is parallel to the ground)

When you step off and say “heel”, you step with your left foot, which means if your dog doesn’t move with you, the leash tightens (since your leg is tightening it) and your dog gets a physical reminder to move.    If you dog lunges forward, your hands stay in control position and the dog gets a physical reminder (tightening of the collar) to stay where they should.  This is  passive use of the leash since the handler is not actually yanking on the leash.. the dog is making the leash tighten.

Now I know a lot of folks will say this is cruel or mean.  But remember, we are praising the dog every step that is correct.. this inspires them to stay where they should.. of course, the handlers pace and tone of voice make a HUGE difference in how well and how quickly the dog figures out where to be.

So this morning, while walking Qor (who walks beautifully on a leash.. even when not in a heel) and I was contemplating the method that Cynthia sort of described and thought about how Qor would have done with that method.

The answer is “not well”.

One of the things we learn in Volhard is to work with the different Drives a dog has.  Prey and Pack drive are the two we work with most, but often we have to work through Defense fight or flight to get to either one. 

When we lure a dog with a treat, we are working in PREY drive.  Prey drive is “let me get it! let me get it!”  which usually means that the dog is paying little if not attention to their PACK.  When we ask our dogs to heel, we ask them to stay in PACK drive.  According to the Volhard method, we remind our dogs to stay in pack drive through touch (I often touch my dogs before I leave them in a sit stay).. or sometimes we work through Defense to get to Pack. 

When the dog gets a physical correction (Defense) after lunging (Prey), they are reminded to stay in heel position (Pack Drive)

You can test your dogs natural drives with the Volhard Canine Personality Test

These are Qor’s Drive Scores
Prey   = 60
Pack   = 65
Defense – Fight  = 25
Defense – Flight = 5

I’ll analyze these in another post… this one is long enough!