Lesson Date: Friday 1/19/2018 9:30AM IN-HOME LESSON

  • Name Game
  • Lure to Heel (walk on the left side, build value on the left side)
  • Stop, back up, change direction on leash
  • Designated potty/sniff spots
  • People/dog greetings

Loose Leash Walking 


Toy Lure: if your dog has a strong desire for a certain toy you can certainly utilize a toy for focus work while walking simply just to keep it engaging. However, if using it to teach the actual position of walking it is more challenging because you cannot place the toy in the position you are encouraging the dog to be. Therefore, when I am using a toy it is simply to break up the "seriousness" of loose leash walking since it is such a tedious task for human and dog. 

Since these videos served as a real training session for my own dog, I first made sure to walk with food, toy, and THEN nothing because I want him to be focused when we begin but also be rewarded even if there is not a physical reward. It should just be fun to work with me! 

His back feet is referred to as "spot" and that was important for agility. I also used it to build value for heel position. Now a straight back is quite challenging, so generally we work against a wall, but he has value for 1) being at my side 2) finding his back feet on the disc 3) paying attention so he can be rewarded. 

LLW: In a perfect world all dogs would start out as small puppies and the human would never respond to pulling, therefore a dog would never learn that pulling = moving. Once a dog learns that pulling = moving it is so rewarding and self reinforcing it can become out of control. This is even more apparent when the dog is an extreme puller, and stronger than the person because a lot of times even when we try, the dog wins and pulls due to its strength. In that case, we need a better way of management. For some of my clients who are at risk of injury it is more about management and then training the pulling, and that is certainly the direction we can go with Harley as well. 

I did not feel Harley was an extreme puller during our lesson, but if you feel on a regular basis his pulling is very extreme it may be best to try a new management tool such as a front clip harness or gentle leader while we are still training skills of focus as well as changing his mindset about pulling and what leads to walking. 

We may even back track and not walk in a straight line but rather a circle where the leash remains loose at all times and it is the only way to move. It will also be a focus drill where the dog needs to check in and pay attention because we are constantly turning into or away from the dog. 

Harley does have great food drive. We may back track with focus and food as we walk; every few steps rewarding. However, as I mentioned when we met we want to reduce this reinforcer as fast as we can so the dog does not become dependent. Quickly the dog knows if you have food on your or not and you do not want your dog to perform only when they see what is in it for them. We want to build the bond where Harley wants to work with you because it is fun and valuable. Relationship building is something we will put a stronger focus on. 

I spent a great deal of time with my dog from 8-16 weeks of age on focus. In fact, everything revolved around focus. Everything was engaging and my dog always won. You can see just building value for the heel position (luring to heel) how it can lead to something far beyond just your dog standing next to you. I use the command "paws up" when I want two front paws on something. It started with my dog putting his paws on the back of the car since he is not allowed to jump in. But now, the dog will shift - first using a disc so the dog had a physical marker, but if removed to make more challenging he will shift without it as well. The good news is it's never too late to begin focus. Every dog that comes to me generally starts with crate training/driving to the crate (to teach waiting at a door) and focus (learning their name or offering eye contact). Since we have four lessons total I tried to show the name game, lure to heel, and the walking standard. 

Name Game

You can practice this anywhere. 

Try to only say your dog's name once (but make sure they will succeed...do not set up for failure).

Play inside and outside. If on your lanai you probably do not need a leash. You can REMOVE the reinforcer off of your body by putting a tin of treats on a table. Try to wait for EYE contact, not for the dog to stare at the food. 

A split second of eye contact wins. Eventually we build duration. 

Lure to Heel

Ignore the commentary - the video was initially made for a dog named Amy. 

The more value you can build for your dog being at your side the more they will start thinking for themselves on a walk to return to this position to loosen the leash. 

This is a wonderful drill you can do as a warm up inside or outside. Again, I would only spend 1-3 minutes on this drill at a time - as many times per day as you have available. 


  • Set your criteria. BE CONSISTENT. What you are consistent with is what you will get. If you become lenient you will end up frustrated because you have been given mixed signals.
  • Do not over-face your dog. Plan sessions in familiar areas. If you decide to go to a new area make sure there are minimal distractions so you are not setting your dog up to fail. If you go to an area and find you have no focus - you are asking too much and your dog is not ready yet. Nothing happens overnight. Practice, practice, practice. 
  • As long as you know what you are expecting and hold true to that - and help your dog succeed, there is not reason why you cannot get the results you want
  • Think about designated areas to go to the bathroom and designated areas to sniff. NOT when your dog decides to pull you. You decide when they need the reward. Are they getting bored? Can you recognize signs of stress....is your dog yawning a lot? Do they seem confused? Don't forget to stop and have fun and rev the dog up so they enjoy what you are doing with them. 
  • Do not be afraid to tell people "sorry my dog is training." If your dog is pulling towards people, barking, acting fearful, I would not ENCOURAGE this behavior and I would continue moving on. You must advocate for your dog. What you allow is what you get. I find most times I am better off not allowing people to meet my dog because they do not follow directions. If I tell them my dog must be sitting and then they can pet, usually they are OK. However when I tell them the dog must remain seated, generally they continue to pet even if my dogs gets up. Therefore, I am giving mixed communications to my dog and setting him up for failure. Try your best to let it always be a win/win. 
  • If you are in a new or uncomfortable area, let your dog familiarize and sniff. Not always a need to be a drill sergeant especially if you see your dog is weary about the new surroundings. Now I wouldn't let this be a ticket to pull you around, but I would stand stationary and see if you can get your dog's attention. If they won't even play name game with your or lure into heel there is a good chance they are too stressed. Be fair to your dog.  


Before you begin training, it is important to understand the foundation to your training should be engagement and relationship. Teaching behaviors and cues is a lot easier when a dog is willing and enthusiastic to participate with you. Your training should be force-free with a strong focus on foundational skills.

  • Keep your expectations fair and realistic.
  • Unpredictability is probably the worst trait a dog owner can possess.
  • If you expect something, then expect it every time you ask for it.
  • Think about treats in terms of ‘units of a reward’ for effort.
  • Remember repetition, NOT duration. Five 1-minutes sessions can be better than one 5-minute session.
  • Mark for action, feed for position.
  • Name a perfect behavior, not an imperfect behavior. Get the quality you want before you tell the dog what it is called.
  • Work on generalization to work on getting the behavior to happen in a variety of environments and situations.
  • The challenge level should always be that in which your dog can succeed.

Ask your dog what they are capable of doing. Over-facing our dogs by putting demands on them that they cannot possibly meet will not only mean we make no progress towards our training goals, but it will erode a dog’s confidence and enjoyment of working with us.

Perfection is not a permanent condition. The more criteria, the more maintenance.

It is important to think about the behavior you are training and the tools you may need. Are you "marking" for the behavior and feeding for position? Are you working a release and can utilize tugging when your dog gets up?

What motivates your dog?

  1. Food (what is the least your puppy or dog will work for?)
  2. Toys!
  3. Verbal Praise
  4. Petting

In what order are your rewards most valuable?

  • What does the dog like least?
  • What does the dog like most?
  • What types of behaviors require certain rewards? Ex. placement of rewards and marking for position, calm behaviors vs. high drive
  • What environment are you training in which may require a more valuable reward or motivator?


Recommended Skills for Training to Start With:

  • Housebreaking (generally for new puppies)
  • Crate training/waiting at a crate door, house door, gate door
  • Addressing separation anxiety, attachment and independence/confidence
  • Exposure to noises and the real world/surface exposure
  • Touch sensitivity & collar grabs
  • Marker word/clicker training
  • Learning name, focus, engagement
  • Addressing barking
  • Recall or "come" 
  • Impulse control/leave it
  • Resource guarding/trading objects/"give"
  • Sits & downs
  • Release cues
  • Hand touches & touching objects
  • Heeling & walking
  • Stay
  • Shaping (sending to bed/mat)
  • Socialization
  • Addressing jumping
  • Addressing play biting/mouthing
  • Proofing

Owner's Requested Skills:

*Please note some of the skills requested may require additional skills or behaviors BEFORE achieving a specific skill or behavior requested

  •  Loose Leash Walking


Keep in mind when you are teaching a behavior, skill, or cue  you must build upon that skill adding elements in such as:

  1. Distance - how far away can you be and ask for that behavior?
  2. Distractions - can your dog perform the same skill outside in a public park as in your indoor kitchen?
  3. Duration - how long will your dog hold a sit, a down, or a stay?

BEFORE ADDITIONAL ELEMENTS ARE ADDED, YOU FIRST WANT TO MAKE SURE YOU HAVE A GREAT FOUNDATION OF THAT BEHAVIOR! If your dog cannot sit in the kitchen with no distractions, do not expect to take your dog outside and get a reliable sit.

How to mark behaviors you want:

In the initial stages you may need to have a collar/harness with a 4-6ft leash attached to your puppy or dog so they do not wander. You can hold the leash or just step on it.

Once you have a strong foundation with the behaviors in a low-key environment you can start building upon the behavior by asking for a longer duration of focus, moving food off your body, reducing the reinforcer, requiring eye contact (not staring at the reward), putting distance between you and the dog, and eventually moving into environments with increased distractions (controlled and not controlled).

In order to communicate with your dog when they are doing something you like or are asking for you will want to have a "marker word" or clicker. If you do not have a clicker you can use the word "yes."

Initially you are just "charging the click" to allow your puppy or dog to start associating your marker with the reward which is to follow. As your dog progresses you can always mark the behavior, but you can reduce your reinforcers (you do not have to give a treat every time).



Skill: Marker Word = YES! (or a clicker)
Exercise: Name Game

Criteria: Call your dog’s name, when they look mark YES and reward
Progression: Offered focus (call if needed) but reward for paying attention. If your dog looks away to sniff, you can call their name and reward for looking at you. Young puppies may only glance up for a hot second...don't forget to reward that! 
*Remember you do not ALWAYS need to use food - think about other types of rewards



How does your dog know when it is "ok" to move out of a cue or behavior?


  1. Dog is in crate (chooses to, or lured in at first)
  2. Door closes on dog
  3. The reward or motivator is coming out of the crate
  4. If the dog tries to bolt or barge out, the dog loses access to that reward and the door simply closes quickly
  5. Very quickly a dog will start catching on to the behaviors that are linked together; dog holds position (even for a second) and is released out!
  6. Repeat

There are many scenarios where a release cue is important. For example: a start-line stay on the agility field. 

Wanting to work one dog, while the other stays until it is released. 

While the Dalmatian is released and worked, the other dog is to stay put until she gets released and it is her turn. 


It's amazing how much can be learned by both human and dog hardly saying anything at all. I can go through an entire training session with my dogs, or my horse, or donkeys without saying many words but rather just praising and reinforcing what I like. 

I want my animals to think for themselves and do things with enthusiasm because they want to, not because they are forced to.

One reason I am a huge advocate of crate training (beyond potty training, confidence building, or ruling out anxiety) is because it is the foundation of my release cue

Time out of the crate or time spent interacting with us is rewarding. Anything that a dog wants can be used as a motivator. A dog will do what works for them to achieve that motivator and it is up to us to set boundaries and be consistent with our messages. Many times we are reinforcing things we do not like and we do not even know it!

"Ok" simply means you are free to move.

Very quick durations to start. No distractions that may cause the dog to get up early. You are with the dog so there is not much distance in between you. 


Impulse Control

If our dog shows a sense of self control, generally we will then allow them a reward or access to their motivator. .

  • a dog sits and waits at the door, the door opens (gains access to the outdoors!)
  • a dog keeps all four paws on the floor, we reach down to pet it (gains access to praise!)
  • a dog holds position when the food bowl is placed on the floor, we release and it eats (gains access to food!)

There was a time when my clumsy self knocked an entire bottle of ibuprofen off my counter and every single pill fell onto the floor. Imagine how dangerous that scenario could be for the dog that has no impulse control and as soon as something falls...well, eats it. 

Had it not been for this specific drill, perhaps that day would have went differently. My dogs understand they need to exhibit self control. When they want to access something they need to engage with me and make eye contact for a release that it is "ok" to move. 

Carrying a plate of food? Kids carrying a stuffed animal or dragging a blanket? A puppy or dog needs to understand that in order to get what they want they should show some patience. Now, of course, we do want to eliminate temptation when a dog is learning as we want them to succeed as many times as possible. 

However, as we teach these behaviors consistently we no longer have to view the behavior as a "problem" or challenge.