Penny on the loose (leash)!

One of my biggest missteps with Eko was how long it took us to finally get comfortable with loose leash walking. There are few things more frustrating than a dog dragging you down the street so I’ve made it my mission to devote time each day to loose leash training with Penny. How committed am I to the cause?27.1

Committed enough to walk outside in public wearing a treat fanny pack!

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But seriously, treat training pouches are awesome for training on the go. I like putting the treats in a prescription-type bottle that sits in the bag. It keeps the bag clean and I can cap the treats to keep them fresh. These Zuke’s minis are my go-to training treat of choice

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How cool do I look with this bad boy at my side!?!?

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And look who also showed up at my side when I put on the bag. I’m guessing it was for the treats and not my sartorial sensibilities 

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This is “Exhibit A” in terms of what we want to avoid

In the past I worked with Penny without treats. When she pulled I would immediately stop and/or change directions. While we made some progress, I felt Penny didn’t grasp that I wanted her by my side.

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Instead of training Penny to do what I wanted, I used treats to grab her attention

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Penny always wants treats so she happily sat by my side to get them

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When Penny walked by my side (and especially when she looked up at me) I rewarded her

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Pretty soon she was glued to my hip. Penny couldn’t believe her good fortune

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“All I have to do is stay next to him and this chump keeps giving me treats! Too easy.”

With my nifty treat pouch I can easily and consistently reward Penny at the exact moment I need to. And positive reinforcement with treats has yielded much better results than just positive reinforcement alone. Penny now walks by my side because she wants to.

So there I was feeling snazzy in my treat pouch with Penny walking politely by my side when I got a nice ego check.

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“OHMYGOSH LOOK BEHIND YOU!”

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“Mini-humans! I must go to them!” 

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It wasn’t easy but I did manage to grab Penny’s attention again

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Still lots of work to do, but we’re making progress

The key to getting Penny to walk on a loose leash? It’s the same key to getting to Carnegie Hall. Practice, practice, practice!

37 thoughts on “Penny on the loose (leash)!”

  1. Brilliant photos, Will. Love this post. Yes, most dog owners’ worst nightmare – “Mini-humans! I must go to them!”. Jet thinks everyone will instantly love him if he bounds up to them (dragging me behind on his lead) and gives them a huge hug and a good face-licking! Must try the treats. Penny is too gorgeous! xoxoxox

  2. You look quite “dapper” with your new fanny pack…… Penny, oh Penny, she is so beautiful! Well done to you for persevering with her – patience works.

  3. I use the same method with Roo, we’ve progressed from a treat every 3 steps to a treat every 30 steps so it definitely works! The key is to always have the treats when the leash foes on so you can always reinforce her. Today we were able to walk past an elementary school full of running, screaming children, men shucking sugar cane and a man grilling meat by the road. The thing that consistently trips us up is stray dogs, as she reallyyyyy wants to go say hi. There’s always more work to be done. But I’d be lying if I said I didn’t love it 🙂

    • So you’re the perfect person to ask here. What do you do when you walk your two together? With just Penny I can focus on her alone, but it seems like she digresses when they’re out together. One way or another I’ll just have to keep at it. Looking forward to hitting the thirty step milestone. One day…

      • I practice a lot in my yard, with Samson tied around my waist in a heel, which he is great at, and Roo on my left with leash in hand. I dont think you have a yard, but you can even practice in your house. She definitely digresses with Samson around, but we are improving. We also are still going to training class and she is learning other dogs don’t mean she can be wild on lead. The more practice being calm on lead with other dogs around, the better she will be with Eko. Use really good treats to keep her focused on you…grilled chicken, steak, liver. It’s smelly and slimy, but it holds her attention. Also, just do small distances with the two of them, even 20 steps and aim to keep her focus on you the whole time. Gradually work up to full walks. Hope this helps a little.

      • Thanks for the tips, I’ll definitely have to put these to use. We do have a small courtyard area so I’ll try to get some practice there. (Side note: loving the photos of Roo, such a happy girl and it seems like she’s fitting right in…your bed with the whole gang!)

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