Walking Nicely by Your Side Outdoors
Start by rewarding the dog for any eye contact from you
Remember that whatever side the dog is on, this is the hand the food will be delivered from , which means your lead and clicker need to be in the other hand, with the lead falling loosely down in front and across you . Try to avoid holding the lead with the hand on same side as the dog at all.
Click and drop the food on the floor on the desired side rewarding slightly behind you. This helps set the dog up for success and gets them in the right position. So your first criteria is eye contact and connection in any location, click and drop the food in the desired location.
Once you have nice engagement and more than five consecutive repetitions of success you can start to set off.
Set off as the dog engages in anticipation of a reward, take a step or two, click and treat behind you.
Remember each time you click and treat, the clicker marks and ends the behaviour so you must stop while the dog eats the treat and do not set off again until the dog re engages.
It doesn’t matter if the dog is looking ahead or at you as long as the position is correct and the lead is loose.
You can then start to click and reward intermittently sometimes after 1 step, 5 steps, 2 steps, 4 steps, 3 steps and so on……… This s called a variable rate of reinforcement.
Or if you like you can use The 300 Peck Method for Building Duration
If the dog goes off to the end of lead, stop wait for the dog to reconnect, you can encourage back to the side with body language, praise verbally and set off again.
I would only ever reward the dog for coming back to position if they have become totally distracted and require me to drop my criteria back to connection.
The criteria now is walking to heel so all high value food rewards should happen when in motion only.
One of the biggest down falls of the red light green light method (stop and go) is the actual behaviour being rewarded is ‘going back to the heel position’, as opposed to maintaining the position on the move , which is actually what we want.
Many dogs trained like this, go back to heel but then rush off to the end of the lead again as soon as the owner sets off. This is because they are being rewarded for going back to the heel position with either food or the ability to move again and to be able to achieve that, they have to break the position in the first place.
If after you have rewarded the dog it immediately disconnects and goes to the end of the lead or sniffs, and takes a bit to re engage. Then with this dog I would click and then either treat , once, twice or three times, varying it. This will keep the attention after a reward as they never know how many treats are going to happen
Watch the Video Tutorial
Copyright Jane Ardern Bsc (Hons) 2020