Now that school is about to start, many people are planning take their dog to the bus stop with their kids. However, the dog may be full of energy, and gets adrenalized easily at the site and sounds of young kids. You need to prepare yourself and your dog to have the right behaviors when walking to the bus stop and while waiting for the bus to arrive. Set your goals and practice to attain those goals.
The best way to have good bus stop manners is by first practicing leash manners, the proper way to meet people and staying focused on you.
- LEASH MANNERS/WALKING: Since your dog will be on a leash while at the bus stop, you must be sure that he responds to commands on the leash. Practice come, sit, leave it, and walking on loose leash. You need to practice the route you will be walking with your kids. Start with just you and your dog so he gets used to the sounds and smells. Once he is walking nicely, add in your kids for additional distractions. Make sure to have your dog’s focus for better leash manners.
- GREETING PEOPLE: Once your dog has mastered walking nicely, add in additional people. You can walk at times other people are around, staying on the route to the bus stop. As people approach, stop and have your dog sit. The people should be able to approach and pass by without your dog jumping and barking. If he does get energized, then the next time someone approaches, move your dog about ten feet away from the person’s path. Put your dog in a sit/stay and keep his attention on you. Once he focuses on you as people pass while you are off to the side, you can then move back to the sidewalk.
- SCHOOL BUS STOP: After you have successfully accomplished these initial goals, you and your dog should be ready to head to the bus stop. Get to the bus stop early and stand off to one side. When families arrive, ask them to not approach so you can keep your dog’s adrenaline low. Keep him focused on you as the bus pulls up and the kids get on board. Once the bus pulls away, lavishly praise him. Repeat the steps in the afternoon for the when the bus returns. After a week of practicing calm departures and returns, you can start to get closer to the kids and the bus in the same manner that you did with when you were practicing greeting a person on the walk.
When you take it slow and breakdown the learning process, you are setting your dog up for success and will have a healthy, well behaved family member.
Jeri Wagner is a canine behavioral therapist and master trainer. Jeri uses a natural training system leveraging the same communication methods – body language and voice control – that dogs follow as part of their instinctive pack mentality. Training takes place in the home where the problems generally occur. Jeri trains in western Montgomery county and northern Chester County. For more information, call 1-877-500 BARK (2275) or visit www.barkbusters.com.
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