When it comes to off or on leash "HEELING" a few of my mentors are; Silvia Ttrkman, Susan Garrett even Greg Darrett...I ABSOLUTELY can not tell you HOW much FUN it is for the dog and human to play shadow handling games. BONUS is you end up with a rock solid velcro dog, who LOVES to be close JUST because it's FUN and really rewarding!
Come to think of it, for those who never can find time to carve out for exercise...it's a great way to exercise! Race around, burn calories and SPEND TIME building a bond with your dog. I have yet to meet a dog that doesn't LOVE this game! You'd be surprised that even the aloof ones get in on the fun.
You don't need to be goofy all the time, just sneak it in on your walks from time to time and they'll walk politely while keep their one eye on you for the slightest indication that you'll start the fun. Works with the Premack principle as well...walk politely without tension on the leash and...we'll play a few shadow handling games on our walk!
You can sneak this "training' in any time...ANYWHERE...and if you time it right...you can use the environment as a "THANKS" for sticking to me like crazy glue :)
I'll update the steps and take video with my guys sometime this week, but for now...here's a perfecto example from Sylvia Trkman's new puppy vid!
1- following you in the water (how much fun is that on a hot day!)
2- coming to you means cuddles or jumping up into your arms!
3- coming to you means we get to play games and learn tricks w/treats!
4-coming to you means to down in front of you then scoot in beside you
5-start your heeling exercises, rewarding them for backing up, beside you, circles through your legs, tugging playing with their favourite toy as a 'thanks" for sticking so close
6-more tricks! Sneak on your belly, go to your mat
7- play with me! race with me! Then race with other dogs then come back for more fun with me!
All this builds VALUE (Susan Garrett term) for paying attention to you and provides you with the opportunity to be "in tune" with eachother. The end result is there can be other dogs, people, noise, action going on in the distance but FOCUS for you is much more FUN.
SAY goodbye to those problem behaviours of chasing, barking, lunging...the environment becomes white noise...and YOU the APPLE of their eyes. In the end, they don't want to miss out on the fun with you. It gives dogs who worry about other dogs, people, leaves falling, cars, bikes a job to do. Leslie McDevitt also covers this in her work as well!
There are body language cues that help the dog figure out which side to stick close to, how to move around into different positions which keep things interesting for the dog.
I've been doing "shadow handling " for years without knowing that there is a method to it which kicks things up a notch and makes it even more fun for the dog after attending a Susan Garrett Foundation Skills workshop.
I love this video, as you can see Susan's body cues clearly. You should see how amazing her dogs are on an agility course. In person they are a riot.
It's a way to keep your dog focused and learning...and provides mental stimulation! If you watch them play amongst themselves they often play this game as well!
Bonus is it's exhausting to concentrate on a task, we do it all the time. Ever feel tired after reading or when you're learning something new? You'll find it's an ideal way to burn off some steam and take the edge off, when your dog is looking for something to do and racing around is not an option.