Work all Commands Off the Leash: Get your Dog’s Attention

Training with the Flexi-Leash®:

This leash is a great exercising tool. It allows freedom to explore, while still leaving you in complete control. As a training tool, you can use it informally during walks to reinforce the following commands:

“Name.” Call out your dog’s name enthusiastically: “Daisy!” If she looks at you, praise her. That’s all that’s required. Just a glance. If she ignores you, snap the leash, say “No,” and then praise her once you have her attention.

“Wait.” Begin to command your dog to stop three feet in front of you with this command. If your dog continues forward, snap the leash and say, “No, wait.” Increase your distance to 6 feet, 8 feet, 12 feet, 16 feet, and 26 feet in front of you.

“Sit-Stay.” Use the Flexi-Leash® to increase your distance control. Increase your distance incrementally.

“Heel.” Use this command to call your dog back to your side. Call out her name and then command “Heel” as you slap your leg. Praise your dog as she responds, then walk a short distance before you stop to release her.

“No.” Whenever your dog’s focusing on something she shouldn’t be, snap the leash and say “No!” Immediately refocus her attention with a toy, stick, or command.


Training with the 10-foot Line:

Use this line while you’re keeping an eye on your dog. Every couple of minutes, stand by the line and give a command (“Sit,” “Down,” “Wait,” “Come”). If she looks confused, step on the line, and praise her anyway as you help her into position. For example, if you command “Down” and she gives you a blank stare, praise her as you guide her into position. Your understanding will help her overcome her off-lead confusion.

If your dog gives you some defiant canine back talk (a bark or dodge), step on the lead, snap it firmly as you say “No,” and station and ignore her for 15 minutes. She’s been grounded with no TV!


Practice Indoors with the Short Lead:

Use the short lead indoors after your dog’s reliable on the ten-foot line. When it’s at­tached to your dog’s buckle collar, you can use it to reinforce your stationary commands: Sit, Stay, Down, Wait, Heel, and Come.

In addition to using the short lead around the house, do a lesson once a day. Bring your dog into a quiet room and practice a command routine. Initially, hold the short lead, but then drop it once you’ve warmed up. Slap your leg and use hand signals and peppy body language to encourage your dog’s focus.


Branching Out with a 20-foot Tree Line:

Tie this line to a tree or post. Secure all knots. Leave the line on the ground and follow the sequence described next.

Warm up with five minutes of regular on-lead practice. Stop your dog next to the 20-foot line and attach it to your dog’s buckle collar discreetly. Remove her regular lead and place it on the ground in front of her. Keep your hands free.

Command “Stay” and walk 10 feet away. Extend your distance as she gains control. Run your fingers through your hair and swing your arms gently back and forth to emphasize that your dog is off-lead. As your dog improves, practice an out of sight “Sit-Stay.” Practice “Down” from a “Sit-Stay” and a “Down-Stay.” The command “Come” can also be practiced, but never call at a distance greater than the line will reach.

If she falls for this and darts for a quick get-a-way, wait until she’s about to hit the end of the line to shout “No!” Return her back into position and repeat the exercise at a closer range.

If your dog disobeys, determine whether her response is motivated by anxiety, confusion, or defiance. If she’s confused or anxious, do not issue a correction. Calmly return to her side and reposition gently. Repeat the same exercise at close range. If your dog breaks defiantly, however, either shout “No” as she hits the end of the line or, if she’s baiting you, return quietly and snap the lead as you say “No.” Reposition and repeat the exercise at close range for quicker control. Good luck!


The Big 30-foot Long Line:

Now for some outdoor stuff. Attach your dog to the 30-foot long line and let her roam free as you keep a watchful eye. Engage her by playing with a stick or ball and investigate your surroundings together. Avoid over-commanding. Just hang out and enjoy some free time with your dog. Every five minutes, position yourself near the line and issue a com­mand enthusiastically.

Tip: Practice in an enclosed area. It only takes one mistake to lose your dog; until she’s an off-lead expert, she may get confused.

If it’s a stationary command, like “Sit,” “Wait,” or “Down,” stop abruptly and stamp your foot while giving the command and signaling. If it’s a motion command, like “Come” or “Heel,” run backward as you encourage your dog toward you. If she races over, help her into the proper position and give her a big hug. If your dog ignores your command, quickly step on the line and say “No.” Don’t scream; just speak sternly. After your correction, give your dog the opportunity to right her reaction before lifting the line to snap it or reel her in. End your session with a favorite game.

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