Unpredictable Loose Lead Walking
Like the name suggests, the goal with this game is to be as unpredictable as possible. In an unpredictable state a dog will look to someone of familiarity for direction and guidance. This will be you and you are going to capture and reinforce it like crazy.
To play the game you will have your dog on lead, short but not too short so it is still loose and the leash makes a nice J and make unpredictable movements - forwards, backwards, left, right, stop, start, slow, fast, U-turn, pivots, walk on the spot, etc. Make your movements random, make yourself fun, interesting, engaging, and move with purpose so that your dog has to pay attention to you because they don't know what is going to happen next. The have no choice but to focus on you and follow you to keep up. And when they do they will get so much reinforcement.
This game is fantastic to play in your front or backyard prior to starting your walk. Not only does it help them to rid of the initial excitable energy and arousal that is usually a hinderance on walks, but it sets your dog up with the expectation of focus on you going into the walk. It puts your dog into the mindset that if they look to you for direction and focus on you then great things happen.
Another time this game is really helpful is at times in your walk when your dog "disappears mentally", they become aloof, so focused on something else, off with the pixies, etc. They are in a state of mind that you know that no matter how much you try to encourage them or work with them, everything is going in one in and out the other. When your dog is in this state no matter how much your fight to get that focus back you will never win it. Your dog can go into this state for a variety of reasons; trigger stacking is the most likely, their sense of smell is so amazing and when that is engaged it is like they have noise cancelling headphones on, their is something of huge motivation for your dog around, you are asking too much of your dog in that situation, etc. As you see your dog enter this state, stop walking where you are (as long as it is safe) or move to a more appropriate area and spend a couple of minutes playing this game. It is like a reset button for a dog. Once you find your dog is repetitively looking to you, finding that reinforcement zone and following you, there is your indication that you have lowered your dogs arousal levels and they are in a much better start to focus and continue on their walk.
1. How your You want to allow your dog as much as the lead without it being a hazard that it will drag on the ground, you will trip on it or it will go under your dogs front legs.
Make sure you allow your dog to have the full length of the lead as we want no tension.
2. Start to move and walk around in an unpredictable way. Make it fun and exciting for
3. Options include slowing down, and then speeding up. Then changing directions. Make
sure you keep it as random as possible and be mindful not to fall into a particular
movement pattern. Reward your dog each time they choose to stay with you or catch
up. We are rewarding that magic reinforcement zone.