Friday, May 13, 2011

Leash training my Dachshund - Tanny - using clicker training

Away from the hustle and bustle of city life, I am enjoying a 2 weeks vacation at my wife’s place – in rustic life style with green trees and vegetation swaying carefree all around the house, the nostalgic chirps of the birds, the moos of the cows, the soothing silence and the refreshing rustic environment leaves me pampered all day and night.

My mother in law has two lovely dogs – a Pomeranian – Fluffy - who’s more than 12 years old and a Dachshund – Tanny - who’s just over one year old. Though both are fantastic pooches, I always have a special place in my heart for the dwarf and intelligent Dachshunds – as they always remind me of my Dachshund – Cuckoo - that I had when I was a teenager. 

Tanny is very adorable, gentle, playful, well socialized, black and tan colored Dachshund who loves to be with humans – pampered, and to play with little children. He just goes crazy when he sees my 5 year old son Zach. Though Zach loves to play with Tanny, he’s also very scared of him. Zach yells and runs for his life when Tanny goes running to him, leaving the little pooch all the more confused and scared.

I love to walk all types of dogs – small, big or giants. So today morning I thought of taking little Tanny along with me in my morning walk to check how well he’s leash trained to heel alongside a human. And my guess was right – he’s a terrible leash puller. Despite his small size and body, he’s an incredibly powerful dog when he starts pulling on the leash. But for me, it gave a fantastic opportunity to put all my knowledge of positive reinforcement training – clicker training - to practice, to leash train little Tanny. 

I was amazed by the speed at which Tanny picked up things. Tanny is a quick learner. In just one hour I was half way through my training session and little Tanny understood what I wanted out of him. I would break down the steps here that I am using to leash train Tanny.

1.    The initial few minutes of the training were just funny. Tanny would scoot and dart forward as I started walking, so I would stop and walk the opposite direction and when he followed, I would click and treat him immediately. This went on for more than 20 minutes.
2.    Then he got what I wanted from him and started to take few steps without pulling the leash. The moment he pulled on to it, I would stop and walk back. But as and when he released the leash pressure and followed me - willingly, I would click and treat him.
3.    You will be amazed to know that in less than an hour, little Tanny learned to heel few steps with me without pulling the leash at all. But I don’t know how things would turn out tomorrow. I am sure I have to repeat this session for more than 15 to 20 times in week to get him fully leash trained.

I once again wanted to show you the awesome powers of positive reinforcement training – clicker training – through Tanny’s case and how well it works in dogs than any other form of reward based training or negative reinforcement training. The key to successful clicker training is patience, persistence and repetition.


  1. Twenty times a week (heck, per day, easy) would be no problem if you take the regular walks and throw in some "Few steps heel" then c/t over and over again. Then as he gets it, start delaying the click for more and more steps.

    Also, don't forget Premack. You could always click and then let him sniff something he wants to or if he likes to meet people, click for heeling then let him get some loving, etc. The "treat" can be anything he really likes.

    Keep up the good work. You're doing a great job.

  2. Very interesting post!

    Little Dachshunds are so cute!

    Licks and lots of slobber,
    Lexi and Jasper the Danes

  3. I enjoyed reading your blog post. It has been a few weeks now since I am babysitting my Boo.

  4. I enjoyed reading your blog post. It has been a few weeks now since I am babysitting my Boo.