A good way to get my dog to pay attention to me is to turn around and walk the other way without saying anything. I do this when Ace (not pictured) sneaks ahead on a walk, but I also do it when he is “free” and gets too far away.
When Ace is off leash and distracted by a scent, I walk or sometimes run in the opposite direction as quietly as I can. Instead of him waiting for me to call him, he has to make the choice to keep checking on me. If he doesn’t turn to look at me every so often, I might disappear! It helps to have a retriever who is very pack oriented and wants to be with his people all the time. This is not the case with all dogs.
Because I’ve made a game out of watching me, Ace is really good at “checking in” and loves to come bounding up even if I haven’t gone anywhere. When I take off in the other direction, he thinks it’s the best game in the world to chase me. Notice that I never chase him. He is always chasing me. This game is also great when you are teaching your dog to come when called.
When we practice heeling, Ace pays attention because he never knows where I will go. If I slow down, turn around or stop, he always aligns himself with me, often while looking straight ahead. It’s kind of like how I glance at him quickly through the corner of my eye. We are more aware of each other through our energy, which is a big part of loose-leash walking.
Over the holiday weekend, Ace and I were able to get out on one longer walk. It was one of those rare sunny days for November around here, and the mutt and I really enjoyed taking our time. I let him carry his ball for the whole walk, but I had him drop it several times and then we walked around and over the ball. Heeling off leash while ignoring a ball challenges Ace more than anything.
I have to point out that on our walk some guy was walking his pug on a Flexi leash. The pug managed to pull the Flexi from the man’s hands and charged across the street after us. Just another classic example of a dumb-ass and his Flexi leash. Ace happened to be off leash at the time, but I clipped it back on quick just in case.
I can’t believe how unaware some people can be when they are out with their dogs. When I see someone approaching us, I can tell right away by their energy how Ace will respond. This guy didn’t even see us until his 15-pound dog got away from him.
This is day 28 of my 30-day challenge to work with my dog on loose-leash walking every day. Click here to see my other 30-day challenge posts. Remember, you can win a copy of “The Ultimate Dog Lover” by leaving the most comments in December.