How many of you look at people walking their dog with a loose leash or better yet, no leash at all, and the dog is walking calmly next to them and ignoring everything around them.
This image is real for everyone, BUT it takes daily practice. My favorite quote from a fellow trainer is Practice Makes Permanent. This means that you need to commit to daily practice with your dog.
I share with all clients that if your dog doesn’t listen to you in the house, they will definitely NOT listen to you outside the house. Make your relationship MATTER to your dog.
I hand feed my dog(s) and I put up toys so when I pull them out, I have my dogs undivided attention.
Practice having your dog drag the leash IN the house to start. I use their dog food and hand feed and walk with them in the house giving dog food when your dog makes eye contact. Extend the amount of time they pay attention to you by giving rapid fire rewards and hand feeding.
When you stop, ask your dog to sit. Then pick up the leash and practice in the house. Then I move to the driveway and the yard. Then I practice in empty parking lots or empty stores.
Practice, Practice, Practice
Mark and Reward Eye contact whenever your dog offers it. Extend the amount of time they pay attention to you by giving rapid fire rewards and hand feeding.
Play hide and seek with your dog. This will help to build engagement and teach your dog that finding you is FUN and rewarding. Use treats, toys petting and praise to engage your dog when they find you. Help them learn that paying attention to you is beneficial.
A dog who has practiced engagement is easier to train, has a stronger bond, can better handle distractions, and enjoys the training experience.
So get out there and get your dog engaged!!