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Discussion Starter #1
I have a question,

in the mornings I do a stroll, usually on a 6 foot leash, on a harness, my dog can do whatever he wants as long as he's not pulling me. This is usually my "stimulate the dogs before I do work" sort of walk. I do throw out commands since I want my dog to still listen even in a situation where we aren't activily training (even though 100% of my day is dog training, lol)

In the afternoons I do structured walks. I ask for a heel and sporadically give out commands and shape them as I need as we're walking. I usually put the dogs on a shorter leash. I do this to make sure they are both sharp on more polite walking for the public rather than casual walks down the street

evenings i repeat what I did in the morning.

Here is where I am wondering, my dog is starting to think every walk is a focused and engaged walk. I don't want this. I know some people always expect their dogs in a loose heel, but I want the automatic expectation when my dog is on a leash to just not pull me. I don't want a focused heel unless I specifically ask for it. I find a more relaxed walk with no expectations to heel is more mentally fufilling to my dogs.

I've been trying to shape situations where my dog walks ahead of me and casually sniffs around by saying the work "break" as he starts to break the heel, but he isn't getting it and me saying something perks him up and he puts himself back into a heel and it brings his focus back. Would just ignoring him as he walks ahead work better? I'm not sure what to do.

Thanks.
 

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Do you walk the same route each time or most of the time?

Do you have access to a park or wooded space where you could take a more meandering path?

Changing things up might allow you to "start fresh" where you ONLY do the casual loose leash walking for awhile so the dog doesn't have any habits in that space
 

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Discussion Starter #3
I have four different routes that I take, and I switch them up (in no order) so no walk we take is the same, but they are repetative. We go up and down the street for shorter walks, I walk to the highschool, & two different parks. Occasionally we drive to a hiking trail in the woods, not often though
 

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I've been trying to shape situations where my dog walks ahead of me and casually sniffs around by saying the work "break" as he starts to break the heel, but he isn't getting it and me saying something perks him up and he puts himself back into a heel and it brings his focus back. Would just ignoring him as he walks ahead work better? I'm not sure what to do.
That sounds more like capturing rather than shaping. And capturing is not a very productive way of teaching a release cue. Nor is shaping, for that matter. Actually I don't believe it's even possible to shape a release cue.


1. First, teach a release cue. Begin by using behaviours such as sit / stay or down/ stay etc.

2. Second, teach a formal heel as a distinct, separate exercise. Once you have it under stimulus control, then ...

3. Combine and polish the two elements.


Really, you're going to need a solid release cue long before you start to teach heel. It's fundamental and integral, sort of like the horse and cart thing.

As for your question re: ignoring him in the example you posted, a self-release is seldom if ever desirable. Don't allow your dog to set the terms or the timing of your cues. Refer to the 3 steps, above.
 

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Discussion Starter #5
I couldn't think of the word, capturing is better. What I want is for him to do what he wants, whenever I try and teach a break command with a sit he comes to me, not off to do his own thing. How can I train the break command to mean go to whatever you want right now?
 

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I couldn't think of the word, capturing is better. What I want is for him to do what he wants, whenever I try and teach a break command with a sit he comes to me, not off to do his own thing. How can I train the break command to mean go to whatever you want right now?
What if you have him in the sit/stay, give your release cue then immediately toss a handful of treats on the ground behind him? Then, as he's swiffering them up, you can walk away or otherwise indicate to him that game time is over?

Does he have a 'go settle' cue? Teaching a solid 'go to mat' is really helpful if a dog gets pesty. Once they learn how to really relax on a mat, it's easier to get them to generalize 'walk away from the human & chill out'. It also teaches them an acceptable thing to do when there's nothing specific going on, rather than being 'creative'.
 

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He has a place command?
I'm not sure this is going to make sense, but... Is your 'place' command only used in the midst of an active training session? In other words, he's sent there but remains alert & waiting for your next cue? or can he be sent to his 'place' and just lie down, take a nap & know that nothing exciting is imminently happening? I use two different verbal cues for these two distinctly different uses of a mat/place/dog bed. "Go Mat" = we're still playing but you need to be on that spot right now. "Settle" = get out of my face & lie down because we're not having 'dog fun' right now. Some dogs don't come pre-programmed with an 'off switch' and need to be actively taught how to just chill out.

Have you ever done any free shaping with him? How does he do with making choices and playing games such as '101 Things to do with a box"? He can't/won't learn how to "go do whatever you want right now" if he's worried about making decisions.
 

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Discussion Starter #9
His place is his bed in the living room, where he is expected to lay down and settle/sleep, and stay there no matter what is going on around him until given the "OK" to move. His go away and wait for another command is "mat"

I do free shaping with him ALOT, I think the most interesting thing about dogs is letting their mind take over instead of listening to me, and its so interesting to see what he comes up with.

He's okay at making decisions, not the greatest. Its kinda obstructed by agility, since 90% of the time I know the course, he doesn't. He is very hard wired to watch and listen to me from years of agility

that being said of course he has a mind of his own and he isn't always actively seeking a command from me.
 

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His place is his bed in the living room, where he is expected to lay down and settle/sleep, and stay there no matter what is going on around him until given the "OK" to move. His go away and wait for another command is "mat"

This part has me a bit confused, as the end result for him is the same - he's not allowed free choice of activity until he's "told". What if he's on his bed & he wants to wander off & lay down in a different spot? get a drink of water? go quietly watch birds out the window? (or in my dogs' situation, go out via the dog door & lay on the deck)?

If you want him to learn how to make good choices & go off & do his own thing (on a walk or otherwise) but without getting in trouble, you need to provide more than one reasonable option or choice for relaxation outside of active training. AND (I'm not busting your chops here, but...) you have to commit to not resorting to punishment if he makes a mistake & chooses something you'd rather he not have done, but gently redirect him & guide him to a better choice.

Have you done any nosework with him? That's a great activity to teach them how to 'be a dog' and operate independently, but in a productive manner.

Smart, sassy, focused, independent thinkers are not easy to work with. You're always walking a fine line with them, but (IMO) they are the most fun to work with, and the most rewarding.
 

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Discussion Starter #11
He doesn't have a command for do what you want, he just does it if I don't ask him. You asked if he had a place to go were we aren't training, yes- his place. I'm trying to ask how to teach him to do what he wants on command, because of right now its free lance, if he feels like training time is over he'll go and lay down somewhere, or bother another family member, go chew on a bully stick, whatever it may be.

I really don't care if his do whatever you want is to sit by me, I really don't mind if He's hyper focused on me, frankly it works well in my behalf for what I want in a dog. I do agility and competitive obedience, two things that require focus on me.

I just want him to get the sitmulation a dog gets from being a dog while on a walk, I just don't know how to train it in a way where he doesn't think in the future he can choose to do what he wants.

I have done nose work with him, he does a good job but is still pretty focused on me.
 

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I guess I'm not really understanding your problem, then. Maybe just put him on a long line instead of a short leash & go for a wander? Scatter treats in the grass so he has to do some foraging rather than coming to you for them? Maybe he just likes being focused on humans - some dogs do more than others. And don't get hung up on "what he might or might not think in the future" Why shouldn't he get to choose what he wants to do? If you build it right, he will make good choices.
 
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