For Teaching Your Dog Loose Leash Walking – The By-My-Side game

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This game is a great foundation  for teaching your dog the value of being at your side, an important foundation for loose leash walking or heeling skills.

What you’ll need: A leash and a bunch of really great treats. (An awesome investment is a treat pouch to attach around your waist.) If you train with teaching dog loose leash walkinga clicker, then have one of those.

The goal is for your dog to choose to be at your side because that is where the value is. Of course the goal for your dog is to find a way to get the biggest reinforcement. It is your job to make those two goals come together.

The game is simple. In an environment with minimal distractions (like your kitchen or living room), get your dog’s attention and then start walking just a few steps. For teaching your dog loose leash walking, teach your dog to walk at your side.When he gets to your side, then either click or use a verbal marker (like ‘good’), and give him a treat. Then take another few steps and watch for him to catch up again and repeat the sequence of click, then treat. Move to the left, right, backwards, forwards.

If your dog gets ahead of you, then gently turn the other direction and wait for him to catch up. If your dog doesn’t follow, you can use a noise to get his attention but make sure that the decision to be at your side is all his choice.

As your dog is consistently making the choice to come to your side, then you can try it in a slightly more distracting environment.
Remember…your goal is to arrange the environment to set your dog up for success. So go slow. Do not go from practicing in your living room to a dog park. Just play the game outside your door, with higher value reinforcers. When you’ve got consistency, then you can continue to increase the difficulty.

Have fun!

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  1. Suzanne says:

    I love playing this game, but I think it is better to start with just one step.
    I do competition obedience and one of my dogs was a lagger (Havanese) This was one of the games that he started to undrstand the correct position.

    • Lisa Desatnik says:

      Hi Suzanne, That is a great point. I have done this game both ways.