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I like to teach my dogs “default” behaviors, things that they should do even though I don’t say anything but the situation itself tells them what to do. One such behavior is that when I take off the leash, the dog should walk by my side (if I am in motion, if I stand still it is usually enough that it remains with me – it should in any case not run away without me giving my release cue).

I start training this when standing still – remove the leash, reward the dog for staying with me and then give my release cue. If the dog is eager to get away before I even have rewarded it, I can have two leashes on the dog to start with and just remove one. I teach the dog this both by just removing the leash from the collar and by pulling the slip lead over its head.

Leash off means stay with me – and walk by my side when I walk.

Then I do the same thing in motion – rewarding the dog to walk by my side, taking off the leash (either by stopping or in motion – in the end I want the dog to manage either or) and reward the dog for walking by my side.

Naturally, I do this without distractions first and then add distractions so that it also works in difficult situations – an extra bonus is that it looks nice that the dog stays with me without me having to tell it to.

Today’s exercise

  • What does your dog do when you remove the leash? What do you want it to do?
  • Train heelwork at least once. (Note how many sessions and minutes of heelwork you do. Train what you and your dog need – it doesn’t have to be the training in the blog post of the day.)
  • Feel free to tell us and others about your training by commenting on the posts on our website and/or Facebook page.
  • If you haven’t participated in the challenge from the start, read here to find out how it works: Day 1: Heelwork challenge.
  • Subscribe to our blog to receive emails when new training tips are available.


Retrieving for All Occasions - Foundations for Excellence in Gun Dog Training
Retrieving for All Occasions - Foundations for Excellence in Gun Dog Training

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