Treat yourself to a well-trained dog!

Look MA! No hands!

The latest jargon for many states regarding cell-phone usage is “HANDS FREE ONLY!”  Well, I like to take that to working with the dogs by using hands free leashes.  I have a normal nylon leash with a plastic clip handle that allows it to be wrapped around my waist–it wasn’t terribly comfortable around my waist but I used it occasionally.  One of the things I want to improve upon as a trainer is to remove my instincts to pull on the leash or maneuver the dog with the leash.  I worked hard to remove the leash pop from my muscle memory, now I’d like to take it a step further.

   First 1/2 of the video has Rio doing some off-leash work.

Although I do quite a bit of obedience training work off-leash, I have found that to REALLY test myself and the dogs, I need use a hands free leash.  I discovered that when I work my dogs off-leash they are actually better than when they are on-leash.  Perhaps it has to do with using a higher rate of reinforcement when the dogs are off-leash because there’s no tether … but the dogs are really excellent off-leash.  They have nice heeling and focus off-leash but, as I’m reminded when using the hands free leash, there are still times I use the leash to maneuver the dogs (and not just during emergency situations) instead of just expecting and rewarding the desired behaviors or giving a cue.

My goal, I suppose, is to not utilize the leash at all when it’s on.  We’ve worked hard enough to have really nice off-leash behaviors but I know I need to work on not using a leash when it’s on and to use more cuing and rewarding.

Instead of tugging on the leash to move a dog or pulling the dogs back, I want to cue them back or cue them toward me to remedy the situation–I’m lazy in that sense… it’s easier to just gently reel-in Shayne instead of cuing her and then rewarding her.  I want to have a very hands-free approach to leash work.  So, from now on, when we go anywhere besides walks at the park (I want to give them the full 6ft to roam and sniff) I’m only going to use my new Tugs By Tena hands free leash (will be available shortly, just want some more testing and find better hardware).  No hands on the leash unless it is an emergency–we’ll see how it goes… it’s mostly training myself but also learning to reinforce the dogs more while on leash.  Should be an adventure!

Who would’a thunk that leash walking would be remedial to off-leash walking LOL!

3 Comments
  1. I’m the same way. Delta works so much better off leash than on…

  2. This leash does look awesome, especially for training. It would have been a great tool to have back when I first adopted Shiva and didn’t know anything. Probably would still help now.

    Watching you work with Rio off leash like that is impressive! Our heeling is so much better now but we still have a long way to go before Shiva is as focussed off leash. I would never trust her on the road.

    • It really forces me to not just pull the dog into position … but to rely on my cues and body language to work with them…I can’t be lazy.

      Rio really just rocks my socks off…I think he was about 10 or 11 months old there… he always amazes me. What he has going for him is that he’s been working off-leash toward that type of focus since he was 4 months old… Shayne, on the other hand, came to me somewhat broken and took quite a lot of work to get a nice off-leash heel… you’ll get there!

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