Our Shaped by Dog podcast is designed to be heard or viewed. If you are able, we encourage you to listen to the audio or watch the video, as each includes nuances of emotion and emphasis that might not come through on the written word. Transcripts are generated from the audio, then humans review with love and care, and then there's a double check by our dogs. If you are quoting in print, please check the audio first for full context. Thank you!
SG Susan Garrett
SG Imagine if you came to me and said, “Hey Susan, could you teach me how to juggle?” And I said,
“Sure, grab a bike.” “A bike?” “Yeah. A bike.” And while you were pedaling, I said, “Just take these
three balls and throw them up in the air and then catch them.” How successful do you think you'd be?
Uh, probably not very successful. Right. And what if walking down the street with somebody you've
always looked up to and somebody you've always wanted to meet, like, I don't know, Beyoncé or Brené
Brown or LeBron James, or somebody like that.
How do you think it would go for you? And what if I snapped at you? “Hey, knock it off! Pay attention!
Watch me!” or something like that. Do you think that would help? But that's the equivalent of what
many dogs are facing every day as they try to learn how to walk on leash with their owners. Hi, I'm
Susan Garrett. Welcome to Shaped by Dog.
If you're watching this on YouTube and you would like to see your dog walking better on leash, go
ahead and hit the like button now. If you're not watching this on YouTube and you're listening in your
car, you're going to want to come over to YouTube. Because I was actually juggling just there. Today,
I'm going to share with you the number one mistake that people make when they're trying to teach their
dogs to walk on a loose leash. And that is, they overwhelm the dog.
My mentor, Bob Bailey calls it ‘lumping’. You know, you can either be a splitter or somebody who splits
behavior into small pieces to teach a dog or a lumper. And when you're a lumper, I can promise you,
your dog is unlikely to have success. So how do people lump walking on a loose leash? Well, they do
things like they expect a dog to not scratch at the collar. Now some people go, “Oh, no, no, no. My dog
is used to a collar. Everything's cool with that.” Well, then they say, “I need you to be in a certain spot.”
But that certain spot is pretty ambiguous. You know, where is that spot at your side? Is it behind you?
“Well, no, I just don't want them to pull.” Well, not pull leaves a lot of variables. So, you might want to
get more specific with that criteria. But what people do is they get a brand-new puppy, they clip the
leash on them, and then they take them out down the street.
What do puppies love? They love new things. So, they see people and it's like, they're seeing a movie
star. “Oh my gosh. I got to see that person.” So, not only do they not have any understanding of how to
be successful walking on leash, but they don't know what you want. You're throwing a world of
distractions at them. There might be other dogs. There might be, of course, people. There might be
cars. There might be birds and bunnies, and they're expected to know how to juggle? While riding a
bicycle and seeing all these people, that to a dog or especially a puppy, we’re all like movie stars
because they all want to meet us. Well, most dogs anyway.
So, what can we do to fix this? Recently, I put a YouTube video up, which was all about perch work
and pivots. That is a phenomenal place to start. Because what we're doing is, we're giving our dogs a
target. You're going to just put this perch and I used, you know, in the video I said you could use
something like a dog bowl. If it's got something that isn't slippery on one side, that the dog can put their
So, you can use this as a target. I'm going to give a challenge to you guys right now. Seven days, if
you've got seven days, I got 10 fingers up. If you're driving, you know, I'm saying seven, but 10
fingers— if you've got seven days— it's metric up here in Canada so it's got to be like 10, right?
If you've got seven days, we are going to create a dog who walks better on leash. Seven days. Here's
what I want you to do; is make a commitment and say it out loud if you're driving a car, “I'm committed
to have my dog walk on leash better in seven days.” All right. So, I want you to make a commitment.
I'm going to spend three minutes in the morning. Sometime between when I get up and before I feed
my dog their breakfast. I'm going to spend three minutes when I get home from work. And if you're
working from home because of our pandemic here, then put an extra one in at lunchtime. And I'm going
to do three minutes after dinner. And three minutes before I go to bed or sometime in the evening, if
we're doing it with a puppy, we don't want them doing it when they’re tired. Okay.
So, first thing in the morning, when you get home from work, after dinner, and before bed. Four
sessions. And if you're working from home, throw in a fifth. Three minutes that's all I'm asking from you.
All right. And all that we're going to do is number one, you're just going to work on the perch work and
pivots that I have on YouTube. We're going to get the dog understanding how to move from one side of
your body to the other with that pivot.
That's an excellent exercise. Let's say we're walking down the street, my dogs on the left, I see another
dog coming towards us. I can just tell my dog if they've done their perch work side and they will pivot in
front of me and come to my right side. And now that dog, I put my body between the dog and my dog.
So, if my dog is crazy and loves and wants to meet all the other dogs, then the temptation gets lower
because I've got her further away.
If my dog is a little afraid of other dogs, or if you don't know that other dog and don't know what his like
or dislike is for dogs, it’s just safer right? So, perch work is brilliant to get your dog to change sides, but
the most important thing guys, we are building a specific behavior. We're telling the dog, if you
remember back in episode number 53 where I talked about how I use reinforcement zone right at my
seam. Right. I would get the dog seen on your seam. Reinforcement zone to watch my dog, walk my
dog. This is helping your dog to learn what reinforcement zone is. That perch is a brilliant and what we
call a foot target, a paw target.
So, at first you might start with something that's a little taller and when the dog's got success, you're
going to go to something that's a little smaller. And the dog can move from one side to the other. And
then we might try something by throwing the cookies behind and will the dog come up? And it’s a lot
So, then we're starting to fade that big target and then you might go into something like just a
Tupperware lid with a big piece of duct tape. And duct tape it on the ground and have your dog come in
and they're going to stand on that. And I would ask them to sit, but you know, some of them, you can
just, they could come in and stand and then you could give them food. And in the reinforcement zone,
touch your seam, give the dog a cookie. Then we're going to fade it down to just a piece of duct tape
on the floor.
So, we've trained over and over and over and over what reinforcement zone is. I would do it with your
dog on the right and on the left, because remember whoever we're walking down the street with, we
might want to switch dogs one side to the other.
All right. All of this is done stationary. Do you see what I've done? I've split the behavior of walking on
leash down to just come and stand beside me. That's all. So, you might do a full week of this, right? So,
our challenge is seven days. I would do at least five days of this, you know, maybe going into the sixth
day you might take a step.
So, our dog, we're down to a piece of tape. And now we're going to step ahead and there's going to be
nothing there but your seam. And release your dog. Can they move one step into reinforcement zone
without your help, without a target there? Boom. Now you're going to put them on a leash and do the
same thing. And be sure when you're doing it, you might be practicing in your kitchen.
If you're doing this four times a day, you might do the first two sessions in your kitchen and then maybe
go into your bedroom for the last two. Mix it up. Eventually over the seven days you've used every
room in the house and if it's nice out, go outside to where there's no distractions. So, if you've got
bunnies and your neighbor calling you over the fence or other dogs barking, I want no distractions for
the first few days.
All right. By day six, we're taking one step. And just one step and feed, and then you're going to take
two or three steps. By day seven we can be taking five steps around your backyard. And a week from
now, you might be able to walk all around your backyard, your dog's going to stay right by your side.
Now it's time you can go to the big time, go to the front yard, where there might be a car passing. Any
time your dog goes out in front and says, “I remember how to pull on leash.” You're going to say,
“Wow. I've gone too far, too fast. There I am a lumping again.” Now you're going to say, “Well, Susan,
what am I going to do? How am I going to walk my dog on leash in the meantime?”
Ideally, you're not. You're going to do things like play with your dog in the backyard. Take them to a
fenced in area that's safe that you can just let them have a run or throw a toy from them. Or you're
going to go to episode number 32. You can exercise your dog without leaving your house for seven
days. Absolutely you can.
Ideally, you're taking them out in the backyard. I mean, they've got to go to the bathroom, right? So,
you're taking them out somewhere where you can either put them in the car and take them somewhere
safe. So ideally seven days, no walking on leash. Okay. If you've got a dog that goes cray-cray then
this might not be a good challenge for you. But for the rest of you, I'd like you to try it.
So again, what we're going to do is build value for your dog coming into reinforcement zone. That's on
your out seam of your pants. We want our dog to be seen on your seam. Remember when you're
training, if you go back to episode number 59, you are using high value rewards for this. We want the
dog to go, “Something crazy about me coming in on that seam. I don't know what it is, but she really
So, you're going to the dog comes in, touch your seam and give them a cookie. And then you're going
to go to a smaller target. And then you're going to take your show on the road. By day seven, you're
going to be taking two or three steps around your backyard on a loose leash without your dog pulling.
But it all begins with that video that I shared on my YouTube channel about how to teach perch work
Listen, our dogs are always doing the best they can with the education we give them in the
environment that we're asking. And try to get a dog to walk on a leash when you haven't put in these
layers, this is a great example of a dog screaming to you, “This is the best I got for you because you
were a lumper. You didn't split this walking on leash business down to the smallest components like
Susan talked about.”
And when you get to the front yard, you might call a neighbor and say, “Can you just walk out in front of
your house and then walk back in.” Eventually you might be able to walk by people and add one more
distraction after another. If you are strategic about this, it won't take very long before you can do your
entire loop of what you used to walk, but you'll be walking with a different dog. How cool is that?
Be a splitter, not a lumper. I'll see you next time back here on Shaped by Dog.