Tag Archives: loose leash walking

This week, at AniEd

Back to reality after our time at Tayto!

We’ll miss all our new friends that helped our learners develop their mechanical skill.

Awesome Pets & their People


This handsome fella is Opie, who we have known since he was a puppy. Well, he’s certainly all grown up now, weighing more than 30kgs!

He came back for some revision and to really get a handle on loose leash walking. Now that he’s a full on teenager it’s important that we are emphasising appropriate physical exercise, lots of calming mental exercise and tons of work on self-control. Opie is lucky to have an awesome person!


Opie knows that dog trainers can’t resist doggie-head-tilts – they are our kryptonite!

Molly came for Daytraining

A daytraining program is an intensive program for your dog. It starts with a one to one session with the pet+ owner to discuss the issues they are experiencing, and we begin by putting some foundation exercises in place.

We schedule a number of daytraining sessions where your dog comes to spend the morning or afternoon with us and we begin working through a comprehensive program that we all design together.
This gives the dogs some better skills so helping to support their pet owner as the humans learn the training exercises.

We have had some excellent success with daytraining programs, particularly for on-leash behaviour. Molly came for some help with pulling on leash, self-control and to help reduce her stress and vigilance while out.

Here’s what happened during her first daytraining session:


Molly is a little concerned at being in a strange place with new people so to help her we start simply by teaching her that she can train humans!

We start just marking with a YES!, any approaches toward us, and we toss salami away each time. As she becomes more comfortable we can begin to mark and reward her giving eye contact.

Soon Molly is offering sits, YES! and we toss a reward. She learns that these humans are easy to train and her learning that her behaviour controls the environment around her is confidence boosting. Molly soon becomes more and more comfortable as she learns how to learn.

This exercise can be progressed too so that it not only helps with confidence boosting but also with her learning how to greet more politely and even control herself when she’s excited:



By getting Molly excited and then waiting for her to immediately calm herself she can begin to develop better self-control and self-calming skills. Yay Molly!

All this has been pretty taxing for Molly so far so we take a brain break – time for a sniffing course. This helps to relax Molly by allowing her to do a favourite-doggie-past-time, sniffing, and helps her grow in confidence as she explores novel and weird items.
She even chills out at this stage to have some fun with plastic cone decoys too!


Because Molly is such a professional-leash-puller and has trouble focusing we are going to start really really easy but not by moving forwards, rather we are going to start by going backwards…


Molly is learning that focusing and following the dancing humans is great fun!

We can begin to add a little sideways movement too as we slowly build to moving forwards. Molly just learns to walk in a nice position and we simply dance around her…


In this program we are going a lot of work on our backwards movement and that’s because we will use it in different ways, not just for loose leash walking…


When faced with distractions we can back-up to quickly get Molly out of the situation and get her re-focused on her human.

This can also be used in teaching and practicing loose leash walking out & about, where Molly may find it hard to eat food rewards. This backward movement is exciting and we are associating with lots of praise, fun and food rewards!


Time for another brain-break with a second round of sniffing courses:


Notice how this time Molly is much more relaxed and less unsure of what her job is in this game.

We are so impressed with Molly’s progress that we even begin to work just a little bit outside. We start right outside our centre in the carpark to the front where there are lots of comings and goings, sights and sounds.

We start with some passive focus – she can check out all the goings-on and as soon as she chooses to reorient we can mark and reward. But soon she is able to practice a little of our auto-sit exercise too.


To help bring Molly down after all the excitement, we worked on some matwork which her people have started with her at home. We use a high rate of reinforcement, really regular treat tossing, because there are some noises and voices outside spooking Molly. Over time, with the help of lots of rapid rewards, she can relax more and more even with these great distractions – she even makes a little nest for herself!


We are thrilled with Molly’s progress during her first session and we can’t wait to get working with her again next week!

People Training

We welcomed a new Canine Nutrition group – this is a three month part-time course and we were joined by six learners from all around Ireland on their journey to learn more about canine nutrition for physical and behavioural health.

This course starts with a look at the functioning of the canine digestive system, how that system processes nutrients and the fads and trends in canine nutrition.

We emphasise the development of critical thinking skills, applying that to the broad area of canine nutrition that is often filled with myth, anecdotes and misinformation. A tall order!

We ended our first day spending lots of time analysing commercial feed labels; learning about labeling tricks, energy content and evaluating food quality. Their heads were well & truly buzzing after all that!

Decker has heard it all before so chose to play lookout instead!


This weekend, we had CBTT6 in for their second weekend. We’er finding it hard to believe that they are almost halfway through their tuition already – time flies when you’re having fun!

This weekend, their second, we covered Domestication & Selective Breeding on Saturday and Canine Nutrition & Dietary Requirements on Sunday so they have all headed home this evening exhausted!

Well done CBTT6 for getting this far – keep up the great work!

Check out the Mother’s Day Google Doodle that we had for CBTT6 today, of course projected – very fitting for all the dog lovers in the room:


AniEd Dogs

Decker and Boomer had a busy week helping out the humans, while Zac wrapped up…


Have a great week!

Think Outside the Food Bowl, Part 3

Part 3 Think Outside

We’ve been looking at thinking outside the conventional when entertaining your dog here and here already; now we are going to think far outside food-based enrichment to providing sensory, physical, cognitive and social challenges to help keep our dogs happy and healthy.


When you think of entertaining or exercising your dog, you probably have taking your dog for a walk on the list – perhaps that’s the main form of entertainment and exercise your dog gets.

But what if you consider, that just like food-bowls, taking your dog for a walk may be more of a human convenience device than entertaining for your dog.

Human/Dog Divide

Going for a walk for humans and going for a walk for dogs are very different experiences, even when there is one human and one dog, together on the same walk.

It will not be news to you that dogs love to sniff and although we recognise their love of all things smelly, we are often too wrapped up in the human end of the walk to facilitate sniffing for our dogs’ entertainment.


That may be because the preferred human past-time is walking while talking and taking in the sights – we live to take in visual information and that requires walking at not much more than a strolling pace.

Recently, Patricia McConnell shared this interesting paper looking at ways of improving animal welfare by recognising the importance of olfaction in impacting the lives of animals in our care. Scents are invisible and undetected by us, but their importance in our dogs’ lives cannot be underestimated.

Pounding the Pavement


Asking our dogs to walk with us, at our two-legged-sightseeing-pace, on a loose lead is a pretty tall order. Not only do dogs need to move faster so as to take in lots of smells, they also have twice the number of legs that we do so are very efficient at covering distance.

Not only is walking up, down, back and forth on suburban streets difficult for your dog (at human pace), it’s also probably pretty boring for them too.
To top it off we use devices that restrict their movement even further, sometimes painfully.

Sheesh! this walking-malarky is becoming more and more like a military drill…

See ya – Decker’s done with military style walkies

Human/Canine Compromise

What are you getting out of walkies?

  • healthier lifestyle
  • physical exercise
  • fresh air
  • social interaction
  • chats with friends
  • meeting & greeting
  • see your local world
  • time with your dog
  • a quiet dog, afterwards

With all this in mind, what’s your dog truly getting out of walkies…?

This might be his only opportunity to be exposed to something other than the same four walls so we gotta make it worthwhile!

Your dog didn’t choose this more limiting lifestyle, and indeed has probably been made for something much more exciting, so how can we make walkies-time the best-time?

Variety is the spice of walkies

You have one walk, maybe only one hour (or even less), let’s cram as much enrichment into that time as we can to boost the value of every walk, every outing and every activity.


Check out the human list of experiences – it pretty much covers our four categories of enrichment that our dogs need added to their daily lives. We can come up with ways to tick those boxes for our dogs too.

Sensory challenges:


  • Turn every walk into a sniff – choose locations, routes and times when you and your dog can devote a good chunk of each outing to just sniffing.
    Dogs find almost every area smelly, but particular favourites are those where other dogs have contributed, where wildlife or livestock frequents or where there’s plenty of traffic of different species.
  • Novelty is interesting for many dogs – bring your dog new places that will provide them with different sights, sounds, smells, textures, substrates and conditions.
    Take care and make sure that it’s not sensory overload.
  • Rotate the experience – if you are lucky enough to have access to varied landscapes, try bringing your dog to different places on different walks.
    Woodland, grassland, beaches and waterways all provide very different sensory experiences, especially when you factor in seasonal changes too.
  • Set-up sniffing challenges – you can introduce new and exciting smells for your dog, and what’s more this can be done at home too.Introduce new herb plants that interest dogs (and that are also safe) and by planting them in pots you can rotate them, hide them or arrange them so that they encourage curiosity and investigation.
    Some informative resources here, here and here.

    Use hunting scents (from different animals, available from hunting and gundog outlets online) and rotate these, set up trails or add to a special toy that you can hide and play with.

  • Scent work games will always be popular with your pet, no matter what you practice finding like food, toys, other items and specific scents – it’s what your dog was made to do!

Don’t forget to teach your dog to “Go Sniff!” on cue so that you always have a handy reward (that your dog loves) and so that your dog can get all his sniffing jollies:


Physical challenges:

Dogs are super efficient at burning energy (that’s why they are so easy to overfeed!) so for most dogs, if they are just trotting along beside you on a pretty military-style walk, they are probably not getting a whole lot of physical challenge out of it.


  • Change your pace – stroll, walk, trot, jog, sprint and then back to trot and up to sprint again and mix & match so that your dog (and you) need to adjust and compensate.
  • Warm up and warm down – make sure your dog has plenty of time at the beginning and end of activity to walk and trot, to loosen up and stretch before the real physical challenges begin.
    Speak to your vet or veterinary physiotherapist about the sorts of conditioning and warm-up exercises that would work best for your dog and activity.
  • Balancing exercises – introduce balancing on unstable objects to really get your dog’s muscles and body awareness working; but as always talk to your vet or veterinary physiotherapist so that you can match the best exercises for your dog.
  • Levels, substrates and terrains – rotate and vary the levels your dog must climb, the substrates he must cope with and the terrain he must negotiate as regularly as possible so that your dog gets to exercise different muscles and body awareness skills.
  • Play – teach your dog to play games with you and with you and toys and bring this on the road. This will help you to introduce varying challenges on each walk, changing pace and directions.
    Tug, fetch, jogging with you, flirtpole and chasing with you will bring lots of fun and games to your daily grind.
    Remember, always teach the rules of games first and make sure to help your dog warm up and warm down.
  • It doesn’t always need to involve walking – drive your dog to a safe spot for games or scent work, bring your dog for a swim or a paddle  or enroll in a dog-sports class such as agility.

Cognitive challenges:


  • Puzzles – don’t have to be elaborate or too complicated, just enough to cause your dog to pause and think a little.
    Why not bring a frozen Kong on each walk and have some downtime in the middle? This is an excellent tool for training better settling behaviour and a great way for you to catch up on sightseeing or just relaxing and chatting.
  • Training exercises – when is a better time to practice training exercises than in the very situations you are going to need those cues?
    Start by working in really quiet locations using really really high value rewards to build up some reliability and set your dog up for success.
  • Passive focus – teach your dog valuable focus with lazy dog training techniques.
    Just stop and wait for your dog to get distracted by something. Allow him to watch it but don’t move. As soon as he turns away from the distraction immediately reward with high value food rewards. Soon you, and this game, will become more valuable!
    If your dog has trouble looking away and back toward you, try moving further away, using super-dooper rewards and working for very short times (30 seconds).

Social challenges:



  • SNIFFING – it really is that great to and for your dog and it’s probably one of the main ways that dogs interact socially with other dogs in modern life.
  • Play-dates – we are not big fans of out-of-control-play at dog parks, daycares, group walks or just random meetings and find it much better for you and your dog to meet up with another like-minded duo to hang out with.
  • Meeting people – gentle introductions to a range of people types can be very pleasant for most dogs. Bring treats and work on polite greetings at the same time!
  • People-watching – sitting back a bit from the action and just watching the comings and goings can be really beneficial for many dogs, especially those who find being in the thick of it, a bit too much.
  • Just hang-out – you are the most important entity in your dog’s life. Hang out with him, do fun stuff together, just be with one another. Ultimate joy of living with and loving dogs!


Let your dog be the guide

Help your dog choose – free-choice exercise is probably more beneficial for mental health than addictive adrenaline-junkie-inducing activity.

Take some time out of each walk to allow your dog dictate the flow. I’ll bet his choices will involve sniffing at some point…!

Thinking beyond an everyday walk

Although walkies is traditionally considered the way to exercise dogs, this might not work for everyone and that’s ok too.

Bringing your dog out in the world can be great for lots of reasons but for some dogs alternatives may be even greater.

There are special considerations for puppies and growing dogs when it comes to physical activity. Check out this fantastic piece from Puppy Culture.

Older dogs or dogs recovering from or with injuries or surgery may benefit from much more controlled exercise such as physical therapy, just pottering around the house, hydrotherapy or gentle play.
Intense, regular walking on concrete is probably not terribly beneficial for anyone – another excellent reason for lots of variety in your daily activity.

Dogs who are fearful, reactive or highly distractible may be pushed beyond their coping abilities when brought out and about. Until some work can be put in place with a suitably qualified behaviour professional it may be better to limit exposure to too much, until they have some help with coping better.

Hey! Be more dog. And make sure your dog is too.

Daily dog walks are not the be-all-and-end-all – dogs need daily activity, enrichment, entertainment and exercise, not necessarily in the form of walks.
Try and mix it up and add and rotate different challenges into your daily adventures.

But always remember to strike that balance between mental and physical exercise, with plenty of downtime and calming thrown in for good measure.