Teach your dog the foundation of loose leash walking!
The Leash Bubble Game teaches your dog that being anywhere inside the “bubble” created by the leash is a good place to be. This is important -- because when you only focus on teaching your dog to “heel,” you’re usually creating an all-or-nothing situation where they can walk next to you on cue or when you’re holding treats, but then on the rest of the walk they’re back to dragging at the very end of their leash.
You are also setting up your dog to practice the important skills of disengaging from their environment, and choosing to follow and stay close to you -- which are not only the key components of loose leash walking, but really, everything else.
You’ll need some motivating treats. I recommend using small pieces of something smelly and easy to toss. Ideally your dog should be wearing a harness with a leash attached. I recommend starting with a long leash if you have one.
Time to take the show on the road! You’ll be using the same supplies as in Level 1, but in an environment where you might normally take a walk. It’s best to start with a place with minimal distractions, like a quiet path in the park.
Does your dog have a hard time leaving alone things like food, trash, or other off-limits items?
If so, keep reading to learn a fun game that teaches your dog a rock solid “leave it” cue!
We live in a world where our dogs just cannot go around interacting with or eating everything they come across - for their own safety, and for the safety of everyone else. But instead of waiting to “teach” your dog this lesson by just shouting "NO!" at them when they start to devour the cookies on the coffee table….Try this instead:
How to teach an attention sound and boost your dog’s responsiveness!
Do you sometimes have a hard time getting your dog’s attention? Maybe you’re even starting to wonder if your dog has “selective hearing”? If so, check out this simple game that’s going to help get communication with your dog back on track.
Did you know that it's not just which treats you use, but HOW you deliver them that matters?
You can maximize your training and help your dog to regulate their energy by matching the style in which you deliver their reinforcement with the energy and behavior you'd like to promote.
Our dogs don’t get very many choices in their lives. We control where they spend their time, what they eat, and what experiences they are exposed to. A lot of this control is, of course, very necessary. Because if your dog is anything like mine, if you weren't around to enforce some boundaries, they would probably have eaten 6 packs of Oreos by now, and/or attempted to move in with the first stranger who smiled at them on the street.
You’ve also probably heard about the importance of using management strategies. Management is the practice of arranging your environment and adapting your own behavior to set your dog up for success. Some examples are using a long line instead of being off-leash, setting up a dog gate in the front hallway, or not leaving Oreos sitting out on the coffee table (can you tell I’m really craving Oreos today?) This form of management is super important if we want to keep our dogs, and those around them, safe and happy.
But the thing is, whether it’s an underlying need for control, not knowing any different, or just getting stuck in our routines and habits, we humans can become a little, well, micromanager-y. I mean, why does it seem like our go-to instinct is to control EVERY little thing?
When you commit to giving your dog more choices, you are boosting their self confidence, developing your relationship, and making their lives a lot more interesting and fulfilling. This is not only important for their physical and mental health, but it can also vastly improve behavioral struggles.
Okay, so here are 3 ways to be less of a micromanager (and give your dog more choices):
What's the point of training your dog to stand between your legs (other than for v. cute photo shoots)? Oh, I'm so glad you asked!
Here are just a few reasons why I love teaching dogs "Middle":
Check out the videos below to get started!
"My dog finished the activity in less than 2 minutes! How do I make it more difficult?"
I hear questions like this a lot. And I understand where it's coming from: you've just spent some time coming up with and preparing an enrichment activity or toy, and you're expecting your dog to be occupied with it for a while so you can eat your dinner or get some work done in peace. It is a really great idea to use enrichment as a management strategy (something that promotes positive behaviors while you're not able to actively train your dog).
But keeping your dog occupied for a long amount of time should not be the primary goal of your enrichment strategies. If it is your primary goal, you are missing out on the whole point of enrichment, which is to provide your dog with a fulfilling outlet for their natural behavioral drives. You're also risking your dog becoming frustrated or bored with the activity, which can also lower their self confidence and make it difficult to engage them in future activities.
That's why it's important to consider what your dog's individual drives and needs are, and then provide them with ways to meet those needs at a level for which they are prepared. You should also be available to help guide your dog through a new activity if they show signs of frustration or lack of interest.
Once they've shown that they understand how to engage with a particular toy or activity (and they enjoy doing so), then you might choose to gradually increase the level of challenge. But it's important to do so with the goal of keeping your dog interested and engaged so that they can get the most out of the activity -- and not with the goal of "stumping" them.