This Human Needs to Re-Learn Her Loose-Leash Walking Skills

Goals are mostly a big joke to me unless I re-visit them daily.

I wrote a post in January about my dog training goals for 2015 and haven’t thought about them since.


My goals need to be simpler than that, so here’s an idea for all of us:

Write down 3 dog-related goals for the remainder of September.

That’s it. There’s only, what, two weeks left in the month? That’s perfect.

We can write down the same goals or different goals for October, when we get there.

Dog training goals

My September dog training goals

My dog is a 9.5-year-old black Lab mix. You’ll see these are more about training ME than training my dog.

Goal #1: Stop tugging on the leash.

That’s right. Me.

This hooman needs to re-learn her loose-leash walking skills.

I’m constantly tugging Ace along lately. Not in a mean or harsh way and not to “correct” him. I’m just pulling him away from sniffing things and trying to get him to move faster.

You know what happens when you constantly tug on the leash?

The dog learns to ignore ALL your verbal commands and he gets desensitized to the tugging too.

Basically my dog ignores me.

He ignores me because I’ve been ignoring him. Sad, right?

So, my goal is to walk without tugging on the leash at all, only if I need to do so for safety reasons.

Instead, I’m going to:


  • talk to my dog (Wow! What a concept!)
  • carry treats
  • reward him for looking at me
  • randomly call him or ask him to sit or “watch”


You know, all that basic stuff I should be doing anyway!

Goal #2: Teach my dog a new “trick.”

The reason this is important is because:


  • tricks are fun!
  • teaching something new encourages my senior guy to keep learning
  • it gives us something to work on together


Ace and I plateaued on our training about 7 years ago.

He knows a lot of different tricks and commands (spin, roll over, back up, crawl, speak, sing, jump, bang, etc.), but he learned these when he was about 2 years old. He’s now 9.

I can’t think of a simple, cute trick to teach him that he doesn’t already know. Does anyone have a creative idea?

I might attempt to teach him to put his toys away, which is not exactly simple but would be challenging for us.

3. Drive my dog to a park, store (or anywhere!) once per week.

My senior dog Ace of Spades

Because the park makes my dog so happy!

Ace can’t go for long walks anymore. One mile is about his limit, which means we mostly walk around the block.

I can tell my dog is not very excited for these walks. They’re boring. Or not worth the effort.

HOWEVER, our town welcomes dogs pretty much everywhere – stores, bars, coffee shops, restaurants – and we have the dog beach, trails and parks.

Plus, my dog is one of those rock-solid dogs you can take anywhere and he won’t react. Nothing fazes him. So many people would love to have a dog they can take anywhere!

Our options are unlimited.

So my goal is to drive my dog to the beach in replace of our walk at least one morning per week and to drive him to another random place sometime over each weekend. This could be someplace my husband Josh and I are already visiting or it could be a place chosen specifically for Ace.

I’ll post these outings on Instagram. Follow us here.

So there you have it.

My September goals are:

1. No tugging on the leash (from the HOOman!)

2. Teach my dog a new trick

3. Visit a new place each week

In the comments, let me know:

What are your dog-training goals for September or October?

Also, any ideas for cute tricks or commands I could teach my senior guy?

Thank you to Puppy Leaks for inspiring me to re-think my dog training goals. Jen wrote about her 5 training goals for fall.

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28 thoughts on “This Human Needs to Re-Learn Her Loose-Leash Walking Skills”

  1. One thing I really want to teach my two is to close the door – could come in VERY handy! 🙂 Apparently you can teach this by teaching them to touch, you then put a sticker or marker on the door and teach them to touch that and in turn, they close the door.

    Id love to teach my dogs bang! Have you a video of Ace doing this? Id love to see it.

    1. That would be a good one to teach!

      No, I don’t think I have a video of Ace playing dead. I will have to post one. 🙂 He doesn’t like to do it! Ha.

  2. It is always nice to reset the goals periodically, even though some of the goals are often forgotten in one month after Thanksgiving, Christmas or the New Year’s Day. I guess that one is winning if he never forgets to reset the new goals.

    Let’s wish that Ace and all the other dogs in the world continue to live long and prosper. So my goals for myself and my 4-year-old female Rottweiler named Seven are to live long and prosper. These goals are quite vague so very easy to achieve.

    Thanks for this interesting topic. I always love to see Ace’s and other dogs’ playing belly up; that means to me that they are happy and friendly. A happy dog is a prosperous dog, I think.

  3. I am looking for a way to get Waldo to stop hauling away on the leash. The rescue that had him for five years never worked to get him to stop doing this, so he just puts all his 80 pounds of RhodesianxPitbull into going as fast as he wants to go. So that’s a major project, will probably take longer than until the end of September. However, I was able to train him to stand at the top or bottom of the stairs while people go up or down within two days, so maybe I’m underestimating him.

    I’d also love to find some ways to get him to be more social with other dogs. I can tell that he’s anxious to play, but he simply doesn’t know how. So he gets all riled up and decides he has to hump them to show he’s the big man. Not exactly popular. I can tell this is going to take a while.

    1. I’m so glad you were able to adopt him. His world has opened up. I’m sure you will make lots of progress, and I know you have already. Sounds like there will be plenty of challenges too, but it’s worth it.

  4. We aren’t big on setting goals. We have a master plan. Right now to finish off the year we need to get a TD title, NW2 title, and a couple element titles. Hopefully that will all happen in October.

  5. How about teaching him to take a bow (butt in the air, front half down), or peekaboo? One of my dogs loves peekaboo, he’ll hide his face in the crook of my arm while I say, “Where’s Mac?” several times, then when he pulls his head out, I say, “Peekaboo!!” He loves it!

    1. Yes, good idea. He does know bow, and that was a fun, easy trick to teach. I would recommend that one to others. And going along with your “peekaboo” I was thinking of teaching him to “hide” behind his paws or something like that.

  6. Thanks for the inspiration. I have a similar experience with tugging on the leash. Baxter has gotten into the habit of meandering, sniffing as much as he wants and wherever he wants. I feel guilty because I want the walks to be enjoyable for him, so I let him get away with it. However, the walks aren’t super enjoyable for me. Sometimes “with me” works as a command to help him pay attention and keep up with me. Is that what you’re planning to help with the tugging? I appreciate any suggestions.

    In terms of tricks, I like the bow suggestion (or “yoga” could be a cute command). Does Ace know anything by name? I read about Chaser the border collie and her language skills, and I keep trying to figure out if Bax knows Frosty versus Cow for his different toys… or at the very least Matt and Julia for my husband and me!

    And in terms of getting out, what a great reward for both you and Ace. Bax was unenthused about his afternoon walk one day last week, so my husband loaded him into the car and drove to a local park. It was a hit, and not a huge amount of effort.

    I think my biggest goal for the rest of the month is to get out with our off-leash hiking group at least once. Simple, but I think that’s about what we can manage right now, and I know that will make Mr. B super happy.

  7. Our goal is to go on one more more hike before the weather turns really crummy. This weekend is looking good! I’d like to teach Ranger some tricks this winter. He’s so smart and it would be good for him to have more mental stimulation when walks aren’t as long/interesting. I’m watching these comments, I need ideas on easy tricks to teach him! He knows how to bow, roll over, and shake. I wonder if I can teach him the difference between left and right. Would be useful on walks!

  8. Since he already knows “bang” you might try to teach “put em up” (like beg, but with his paws straight in the air). Putting the two together makes a very cute trick!

    1. Wonderful idea! That sounds adorable! Ace won’t be able to physically do that, but I love the idea for others or for my future dogs/foster dogs! Because of his arthritis, he has trouble with “shake” and “high five.” Poor guy.

  9. Sounds like great goals! One of my favorite tricks to do with Kaya (Norman never caught on) is “legs.” I say the command and she must walk behind me, through my legs, sit between them and look up at me. It’s super fun because I can change position a bunch of times to switch up the challenge. She loves it!

    1. Ahh, we call it “under”. All fun and games until you have a leg partially up to fasten a shoe strap 🙂 Or you’re wearing black (have to be black) pants on the way to work! Good thing they are so stinking cute, eh?

  10. That first goal is a hard one for me too. I like getting a workout when we’re out walking, but if we’re constantly stopping so Haley can smell the bushes, it can be frustrating. I’ve really had to make an effort to just stop and give her some time to sniff, since that’s what she loves about going for walks.

    That’s why I love off-leash walking in remote areas so much, I can keep walking and Haley can stop for a few seconds and sniff or she’ll run ahead a little bit and do her sniffing around.

  11. This is a great question and a cool habit to develop.

    My goals are:

    – start Zoey on very basic nose work
    – take the dogs for a longer walk at least 2x a week
    – walk through the woods with Sydney and Zoey 2x a week (girl time)

    The dogs need more walking time, because we’ve had some issues come up and my girls need girl time, because Sydney needs to lose weight and Zoey needs more confidence and when she has time with me, it helps.

    1. Oh, those sound like really good goals. I love your idea of girl time for Sydney and Zoey. 🙂 I’m sure it gets challenging trying to meet all of their individual needs.

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