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August 27, 2014

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
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!


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


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


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 


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.


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


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


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


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


“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.




“Mini-humans! I must go to them!” 


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


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!

Comments for Penny on the loose (leash)!

  1. That’s a great post, I totally agree with you: “Penny now walks by my side because she wants to.” That’s THE key. Yay that the treat-trick worked! Have many nice walks together :o) We tried the stop&change direction trick without treats too, but there was not really a success… except that our neighbors screamed with laughter…

  2. Nikitaland says:

    What a great post! I am still working on loose leash with one of our dogs, and treats do help tremendously. They would do anything for a treat….except take a bath! LOL Where do I find those nifty treats you have?

  3. Elyse says:

    Thanks for the advice. Duncan is OK on the way out, but rushes back to the car, trying to drag me along with him. Halting works sometimes, as does changing directions (and walking past the car baffles him which entertains me). I will try your tactic. I also like the pill container — the treats get gross and we go through many environmentally incorrect zip lock bags!

  4. Emmadog says:

    We have two of those same pouches, they are wonderful. Mom had to dig them out again as it had bee many years, but she has used them a lot with Bailie and they are fairly hip looking for a pouch! If she gets bored with those treats, or focuses too much on the pouch, try putting it behind you, and try some freeze dried beef or chicken for real tough work as an extra special reward, it works for us.

  5. Kyla says:

    You be in real trouble when you run out of those a mile away from home.

  6. fredrieka says:

    we get excited about where we are going. I still need reminding when I just inch forward before Momwithoutpaws she does the Achk .. I know I have to back up. Woof it is hard

  7. Karen says:

    Thanks Will for sharing your crazy pups with us. It’s a relief to know my Ridgebacks are normal. Neeka (3 1/2) and Khoi (3 months) are almost identical in temperament with yours. And of course, being food driven, Zukes are a staple in our house. (Must get stock in that company.) I’ve found that those and chicken jerky are the only things to disengage their noses when on a scent trail and being in the country, there are a lot of animals crossing their home during the night.

  8. Very cute!!
    I bought said treat pouch to train my foster dog this way. (My own dog is not a puller except when he REALLY does not want to walk and glues himself to the sidewalk..so I have different problems to work on)
    Anyway, one day I left for work to earn puppy chow for them while my roommate had them lose. They found the pouch (treatless at the time).

    And I found the remains at the end of the day, complete with HAPPY faces and wagging tails.

  9. Oh that close-up is absolutely MAGICAL…..HAHAHA She’s so danged cute!


  10. Alisa says:

    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 🙂

  11. coastingnz says:

    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.

  12. 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

  13. Way to go, keep up the good work!

  14. harrispen says:

    I like the idea of the Rx bottle for treats. I will have to save my large one next time I empty it.

  15. houndstooth4 says:

    Zuke’s Minis are a huge favorite here! They’re what I use for photography with the dogs. You might want to sneak a few things in there that are higher value, though, for things that are extra distracting. We have some Indigo Steak Strips that I use when I need to inspire a little extra motivation.

  16. OMD Will, you are seriously bringing sexy back with that fanny pack *BOL*. We LOVE mini-hoomans too, they often have sticky faces and fingers which are grrrreat for licking.
    Wally & Sammy

  17. dogdaz says:

    Love how you shot this. She is so adorable. I am sure that it will not be long until she never leaves your side, unless of course someone else has treats. – Your friends at DogDaz Zoo

  18. pawedblog says:

    Well done Penny! Model student!
    The bottle in the pouch is such a great idea! Thanks for sharing!!
    Hugs, Carrie and Pups x

  19. Wow and congratulations!!!!!! You guys are doing fantastic!!!!!

  20. I love the close up picture of Penny!! Can I kidnap her??

  21. Good girl, P. I know the lure of the mini-humans. They trip me up a lot, too. Plus they taste delicious – like dirt and candy. Mom puts my treat pouch on my leash handle.

    Love and licks,

  22. hahaha mini kids! I love using treats to teach heel, it goes so much easier.

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