Using Free Shaping to Teach a LA Maltese to Put its Own Harness On

By: David Codr

Published Date: October 28, 2018

For this Los Angeles dog training session, we taught 2 year-old Maltese puppy mill survivor Kenny how to put on his own harness through free shaping.

Kenny was very excited and precocious when I arrived for the session. He repeatedly tried to jump up on me until I started to disagree with him.

It’s important to understand that when a dog jumps up on someone who is arriving at your home, it is often the dog’s way of letting the person know that they are claiming them as their property or to let the person know that the dog is in charge.

I sat down with the guardian to discuss the dog’s day-to-day routine and made a number of suggestions that should help flip the leader follower dynamic. The guardian clearly loves her dog to pieces but some of her interactions with the dog may be confusing Kenny into thinking that he is in charge or needs to be the leader.

This often happens when people adopt dogs from a bad situation and considering Kenny was rescued from a puppy mill in Korea, that certainly fits the bill. But lavishing a dog with praise, attention and no structure after the initial welcome to the home window of a week or two and you can end up with a dog who starts developing unwanted dog behavior problems.

I suggested the guardian start to practice my petting with a purpose method as well as rewarding desired actions and behaviors through passive training. I also suggested a number of rules and showed her how to enforce them so that the dog starts to see her acting in the leadership role.

One of the issues she wanted me to help with was Kenny’s behavior when she attempted to put on his harness. This dog did now want to have his harness put on and would jump around and struggle to try to avoid having it.

I pulled out some high-value training treats and a clicker so that I could show the guardian how she could use free shipping to teach a dog to walk into the harness on its own. I added in a bit of luring at the end to get the dog to walk into his harness voluntarily.

You don’t have to be a Maltese dog trainer to do free shaping. Free shaping a dog into walking into it’s own harness isn’t difficult, but it does take patience and good timing.

If the guardian practices this free shaping approach a few time a day for the next week, Kenny should start walking into the harness without any protest.

After we finished the free dog training video above, I showed the guardian how she could use a Martingale collar to give her a little bit more control over her dog on the walks by adding the special twist of the leash.

At the end of the session the guardian asked me for tips to help Kenny stop going after her cat. Unfortunately the cat decided it did not want to participate in this dog behavior part of the session, LOL. This link may provide some tips that will help the dog learn to stop chasing the cat. Another approach that may work involves counterconditioning.

To help the guardian remember all the positive dog behavior tips I made in this in home dog training session, we shot a roadmap to success video that you can check out below.

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This post was written by: David Codr

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