I am frequently asked the question about how to deal with a dog who doesn’t acknowledge that there is a handler at the end of the leash when outside. It takes patience, cheese/chicken/hotdogs, a clicker, and time. It’s actually pretty simple, but it does take time. I am not entirely sure students ever believe me when I tell them how simple it is… but it’s really a simple process. Basically all good things come through offering attention to the handler while outside.
Chase is easily over stimulated and has quite a bit of prey drive so he is totally distracted while outside. He had zero leash training and zigged, zagged, spun, and wrapped me up all the time. Never once would he even look back to me while he ran around like a madman. Before I could ever begin to work on his loose-leash-walking skills, I’d have to work on his ability to look to me.
So, I went outside with a pouch full of treats, and a clicker and I waited. For the video I was moving around a bit so I wasn’t blocking Chase (so the camera would catch him when he offered attention) but normally I’d just go outside and wait for him to eventually turn to me. Any time he offered attention, I’d click and treat him. If his attention stayed on me, he got rapid fire click/treats… if he got distracted again, no biggies, just wait for him to offer attention again. The very first time I practiced this I stood outside with Chase on a 4ft leash for just over 5 minutes until he turned around to look at me, then 3 minutes, then 30 seconds, and then I gave him a break . The second time (which is in the video) it took him just about 3 minutes to look to me the first time, then he was with me for the most part except for a few moments with big distractions but nothing more than a minute. In just three session I went from a dog who didn’t even know I existed to having a dog who had some nice sustained focus!
Starting with the focus work and then leading into a “follow me” game, I’ll show you how I introduce the idea of a loose leash walk with Chase. Again, he came to me with zero leash manners and he’s already on his way to a nice loose leash walk.
Here’s a video of the attention/focus building work and how that leads into a nice loose leash walk!
LASTLY, keep Chase in your thoughts. He’s going in for his neuter today …I’m sure he’ll be fine but I always worry when a dog is being put under anesthesia.