In December's blogs, we talked about the importance of engagement and being more valuable than your dog's environment.
In this blog, we will take that game to another level and move the engagement game from in front of you to heel position. Teaching your dog that this position pays well will help shape loose leash waking!
Begin with the engagement game from last month's issue. Remember, we want your dog to begin the game, not you.
Once your dog is engaging with you and asking to start the game, lure your dog on your left side and have them sit facing the same direction you are.
In the beginning it doesn't have to be perfect and in fact won't be. It's okay, you can get more precision later.
Doing this close to a wall helps keep your dog from changing positions and sitting sideways. Some dogs aren't comfortable being close to a wall so you may need to do this against the back of the couch, or even in the middle of the room if your dog will stay in position.
With food in your left hand, every time your dog looks up to you in that position, mark it with a “yes!” and then reward.
It's important to have the food in the same hand as the side your dog is on. If your dog sits on your left and you reward from your right hand, you will teach your dog to come out of position.
As long as your dog is looking up at you mark and reward. After a few times of your dog doing this, give him the release cue and then release him into play! Then begin the game again.
If your dog moves out of position, no worries – just help guide them back walking them against the wall and then turning them to the inside as this will help later with your heel position.
Make this fun for your dog!
Once your dog is staying in position and staying engaged with you, then you can move on to the beginning heeling exercises.
Don’t rush this step however. If your dog continues to learn that they can choose not to engage with you and choose to move out of position and pull on a leash, it will make all your other training more difficult.
Remember to HAVE A PARTY with your dog! Teach your dog that engaging with you is reward-able, fun and that you are the end all be all!
Aim to train with play!