Skip to Content

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.

Sign up to receive training tips & more in my weekly newsletter:

Kimberly Gauthier

Friday 18th of September 2015

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.

Lindsay Stordahl

Friday 18th of September 2015

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.


Thursday 17th of September 2015

Most of my goals revolve around keeping our Maggie as comfortable as possible, so no more training for her.

Lindsay Stordahl

Friday 18th of September 2015

Thinking of you and sweet Maggie.


Thursday 17th of September 2015

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.

Rachel @ My Two Pitties

Thursday 17th of September 2015

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!


Friday 18th of September 2015

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?

Lindsay Stordahl

Thursday 17th of September 2015

Oh how cute! :)


Thursday 17th of September 2015

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!

Lindsay Stordahl

Thursday 17th of September 2015

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.