I'll start walking around the space, looking over my shoulder for my dog to catch up to me. When he does, I'll click and treat! At this stage of the game, I don't care if the dog is facing in the same direction as I am. I do care that he is not leaping up on me or engaging in other undesirable behaviors such as nipping at my clothing.

What I'd like to see in my first session : an increase in focus and attention on me, and a decrease in the things that make walks less fun, such as leaping up at me and mouthing my hands. Those behaviors never get rewarded with food or attention.

To practice "Loose Leash Walking - minus the leash", I'll need a large - ish enclosed area to work with my dog. Before I start, I'll pull stuff like chairs away from the walls so that I can make a figure-8 around them as I practice. Don't forget your clicker and treats!

Walking in circles is a great way to up the reinforcement for your dog.  Most dogs and handlers find it easier to walk with the dog on the outside of the circle and the handler on the inside.

It's fine to talk to your dog as you walk around, but be sure that you are marking your pup's behavior of being by your side with a distinct "Yes!" or Click! Follow up each "Yes!" with one treat, delivered by your side. Repeat this game several times a week in preparation for your class!

You can call this behavior "touch!" or "target!" when your dog is doing it consistently. This is a fun game to throw in to your Loose Leash Walking practice.

More tools to get your message across : teach a Nose Touch to your hand. It's a bit of a stretch for a small dog or a puppy, but worth teaching! I have a handful of treats in one hand, and put out my empty hand for the dog to touch with her nose. When she touches my hand, I'll say "Yes!" and treat in the hand she just targeted. Repeat, repeat, and encourage your dog to come to your hand rather than pushing your hand in to your dog's face (most dogs find this unpleasant!)

Trainers often use target sticks to help dogs learn behaviors such as "Walk by my side." This target stick has a telescoping end - clearly adjustable for the size of the dog you're working with. Follow the directions on Karen Pryor's Clickertraining website and just try to not feel that you're leading a baton-twirling parade!

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