Excited to join this community! Already, I am feeling like I am learning a lot while lamenting that I had known more earlier before making some mistakes.
I have a 4 year old pitbull mix who is really sweet but was really reactive to other dogs on leash and was constantly pulling. After watching YouTube videos (mostly Tom Davis-No Bad Dogs), I learned a bit more about corrections and how important it to get obedience down so I have been working on getting my dog to heel (walk next to me).
This greatly has improved our walks and he is a really nice walker (with the exception of his excitement/hyper focus-reactivity to other dogs).
In trying to address his dog reactivity, I ran across Robert’s YouTube videos and realized that I should be doing more loose leash walking. In a few of the instances where I got myself to not just become nervous at the sight of other dogs, follow some of Roberts advice about correcting at the end of the leash and doing some turns to get my dog to re-engage with me, my dog did much better in not lunging trying to get to the other dogs. He still whined but was able to follow my air command or just continue to walk with me.
Long way to get to my point that, in an effort to make sure my dog was engaged with me in the walks…I been asking my dog to heal for our almost 2 mile walks. I have been correcting him when he goes a bit ahead because I thought he should be heeling through our whole walk. However, I now realize, maybe I shouldn’t be expecting for him to be aligned with me (thus correct him so much) when he goes slightly ahead of me.
I guess I just have a question about how I can make the transition from still getting solid control from him without expecting/using “heel” AND…what would it look like to walk a dog on a loose leash. I haven’t found a video of Robert or a client walking their dog on loose leash. I want my dog to enjoy his walks and not constantly correcting him because that doesn’t seem fair.
Thank you all…and hopefully my long drawn out post wasn’t confusing or show my complete ignorance.
Sorry, if I wasn’t clear and thank you for responding. I already watched the 3 videos on loose leash walking. I guess I was asking more for what it looks like in context of an actual walk where a dog might be sniffing/potty break. How much leniency vs. when a dog is asked to “heel”?
Some people may see it differently, but for us the loose leash walk is whatever leash you brought is the radius he gets. There is no lenience per se because it is understood that if you brought a 4 foot leash he can be 2 feet ahead and he is still “within the terms of the contract”.
The heel, again for us, is more of a command, whether that is a competition heel or a stay in this general area while we are walking. It is work for the dog so, depending on the dog, it is harder for them to keep it up on their own. When the dog is on heel the leash is just a backup.
One thing you could try is to get them “in the zone”. For me that is a resonantly brisk pace (as opposed to a measured stroll). Their ears go back and they look forward. They are still aware of their environment, but you can see in their body language that they are in work mode.
One more thing… say you are doing a lose leash walk and you see a dog or a person approach. You then give him the “heel” command. That will tell him that now he is no longer just hanging with you, but he has a job to do (even if that is just a pet-type heel). The timing must be before the distraction takes a hold of him. Hope it helps
EDIT, also because you just asked him to do something a smaller correction can be applied as he stats to become unfocused
Yes!! Thank you so much. You basically answered what I was confused about. Basically, how/when do I ask to “heel” vs. just walking around me especially since he’s dog reactive. I will try this on our walk tonight!
Hi! Just wanted to thank you Natalia. I had the same exact question and really appreciate hearing back on the great responses how to set my expectations on both a heel and loose leash. I have been using loose leash walking and have not started on the heel command, but will start now that I understand how to use each fairly on my dog. 🙂
Thank you for this, I have had the same confusion. This conversation was super helpful! I plan to take my mal on runs when he gets older and I can see how the heel command would be imperative to learn but also maybe not possible or practical for the entire run because he would have to pay attention to where we are going and his footing.