We limit dogs’ choices. We dictate pretty much everything that happens in a dog’s life – where they sleep, when they sleep, what they eat, when they eat, where they eat, when they walk, where they walk, how fast they walk…
As humans we are really good at recognising bad behaviour, but not good at either recognising or rewarding good behaviour, especially if we haven’t asked for it. Your dog will be doing loads of good things when he’s out on a walk but is not getting recognised for it. When your dog looks at you – great choice! You’ve got his attention, he’s not pulling on the lead. When your dog looks at a distraction and then looks away, or even better at you – great, great choice! He chose to stay with you rather than to go to the distraction and you didn’t even have to use recall or the chase me game.
On your next walk to try letting your dog lead the way. Be less controlling and commanding and just follow where he wants to go. Try to noice all the good choices that your dog makes, and reward those choices.
It’s really difficult for us, but try to be more mindful of your dog’s behaviour. If you’re working on loose lead walking and your dog looks at you, tell him he’s a good dog – if he’s a puller, don’t just praise him, give him a jackpot reward. If you’re working on recall and your dog looks at another dog and looks away, tell him he’s a good dog – if he’s super friendly and loves other dogs, don’t just praise him, give him a jackpot reward.
Remember, if you don’t reinforce a behaviour then it eventually dies out. Don’t take good behaviour for granted. If you do a good job you expect to be paid more. If you were consistently performing well and not being recognised it, you’d get demotivated and would give up trying.