Possible solution…..

….to a question asked in the comments hereHelene commented that they were having trouble keeping their dog Bear close by when working the property, and asked if I’d any ideas.  At the time the answer was no.  Now however I just got home from the latest puppy class with Apollo and I might actually have a possible application to create a solution for her.


The problem is keeping the puppy close by, specifically to walk on a loose leash at heel, but also to stay close in all sorts of situations so that no matter the stimuli they turn to mom instead of lashing out in fear (a protection reaction in appropriate situations is different).

While working on a leash (walking, taking the puppy to go potty, whatever) abruptly step backwards a couple steps from the dog, when he turns to face you offer him a treat BUT (and this is important) you neither toss the treat to him, or offer it at arms length.  Instead you hold the treat up close to your legs so that in order to get it he has to come up close.

Once he proves adept at following your movements (which can take days) and staying close the next step is while doing something (working in the kitchen, talking to someone in the yard, something where your attention is not wholy on the dog but you are not generally in motion) you have him sit next to you or in front of you, as close as possible, and randomly hand him treats as long as he stays close.

The third step is to do this while walking or otherwise moving.

The concept is that “if I stay close to mom good things will come my way”.  Obviously eventually treats are fazed out, and given for only exemplary behavior.

The treats used for all of this should be of “high value” to the dog.  They should be something he WANTS, be it pieces of string cheese (a cheap easy way to get large quantities of small bits of cheese), bits of cooked chicken or turkey.  The instructor suggested using the food rolls sold as specialty food in the preferred flavor.  She cuts them up into little cubes, stashes handfulls into ziplock baggies and freezes them.  Grab a baggie, stash it in a large pocket or fanny pack or apron pocket and you have a handy treat that isn’t going to throw off your dogs diet.

Helene I’m not sure what kinds of work you’re doing when your talking about this, but I can see some possible applications that might make this work for you.  Is it something where you can attach the dog to you (for step 2 and 3 above) either by a clip from leash to belt or one of those jogging leash sets (they’re cheaper on Amazon) and then reinforce with treats regularly (obviously this depends on his overall leash manners, if hes going to pull you around this way then that won’t work)?

Reguardless it’ll take time.  Days or even a couple weeks of regular work on each step, and will probly require regular reinforcement in your situation.

4 Comments

  1. Comment by Helene Burnett:

    Can't tie him to me. I walk with crutches. I'll have to tie him to a fence nearby while I garden or feed the chickens and rabbits.

    He's very watchful of my pocket as we go for his morning walk. As long as I concentrate on him he stays close by, get busy, he's gone.

  2. Comment by Ruth:

    Ah, that would make it more difficult! Not sure then sorry. Shall keep it in the back of my mind though as we work with the puppy.

  3. Comment by Helene Burnett:

    He's showing signs of wanting to be closer when I'm working since I've started carrying treats in my pocket.He's tied to a tree near where I work. When we do our off leash walks he stays 50' or so as he ranges down the trail. Comes back immdeiately now for treats. Maybe this no longer a puppy dog can learn new tricks.

  4. Comment by Ruth:

    Well cool!