First of all, great work!

If you're reading this then you've made it all the way to the end of "Walk Like a Champ." Congratulations! You've learned some of the world's best techniques and strategies for getting your dog's attention, helping her find the profit position, walking together, and overcoming distractions.

You've also undoubtedly learned things about your dog that only you could know, like what treats she likes, what distractions are toughest for her, which side she prefers to walk on, what skills come naturally to her, etc. There is no substitute for this first hand experience. As they say - that's why we play the game.

Second of all, how is your pup doing at walking on the leash?

With the congratulations out of the way, the next thing to ask is how has your loose-leash walking improved? Have you reached your goal or do you still have work to do?

If your pup still struggles with the leash, don't worry. That's not weird. It doesn't mean you've failed. It doesn't mean your pup is difficult. It just means you have more practicing to do, which, candidly, is what we expect for almost everyone who started this course with pups that really struggled with the leash.

Third and final of all, where do you go from here?

Below are a few scenarios. Pick the one that sounds most like you:

Walking is still a big struggle

If walking is still a big struggle, here's what we recommend you do next:

Focus on specific areas

We encouraged you to go quickly all the way through the course once so you could get a broad understanding of the skills it takes to master loose-leash walking.

You've done that, so now it's time to get specific.

If your walks are still a struggle, identify which areas are a struggle and spend some time focused just on those areas. Conveniently, the course layout helps with this:

  1. Are you able to get your pup's attention on walks? If yes, focus on the games in the Attention section until you see some improvement.
  2. Is your pup able to find the profit position and does she show interest in being there? If yes, focus on the games in the Position section until you see some improvement.
  3. Will your pup walk with you when there aren't distractions around? If yes, focus on the games in the Moving section until you see some improvement.
  4. Is your pup struggling just with distractions? If yes, check out the next part of this article.

Keep moving from section 1 to 4 until you're happy with where you're at. You may need to go through that loop several times. In fact, we strongly discourage you from trying to reach perfection in one area before moving on. Instead, aim for progress, move onto the next section, aim for more progress, move on again and so on.

Set new, easier goals

It's highly discouraging to set a goal and feel like you're so far away from the finish line that you can't even imagine it, let alone see it. So let's set that big "walk like a champ" goal aside for a moment and set some easier goals. Here are some ideas:

  1. Walk together for 30 steps inside with no pulling
  2. Walk together for 10 steps outside with no pulling
  3. A 90% success rate with "Profit Position on Cue" (that is, your pup comes to your side 9 times out of 10 when you ask)

Pick one of these goals, work towards it, and when you achieve it, celebrate like you won the Super Bowl. Not only does this make things more fun, it's the right way to tackle big hairy audacious goals.

Our walking is better, but we struggle with distractions

If your pup walks great on a loose-leash in an environment with no distractions but struggles once you introduce distractions then your job is simple - focus on those distractions.

  • Make a list of the toughest distractions and rank them from the easiest distraction to the toughest distraction. Start this process with the easiest distractions.
  • Spend some time just being around those distractions. The more time you spend around those distractions, the less distracting they become. This might mean going to the park and just spending 30 minutes hanging out. You can try to get your pup's attention and play some other games if you want or you can just sit and let her watch the world go by. The goal here is to get her more time around distractions.
  • Play the games in the "Distractions" section starting with the easiest distraction
  • Finally, as you make progress with one distraction, try the next hardest distraction. Keep working your way up until you're tackling your toughest distraction.

When you reach the toughest distractions, you might find that nothing works. Your highest value treats don't work. Your highest value toys don't work. Maybe your dog even ignores her favorite people. At this point, you'll need to get creative and start experimenting.

Try different treats, different toys, different games - the goal is to find something that will get your pup's attention if even for a fraction of a second.

If you need help coming up with ideas of things to try, reach out to us at Harper. We're happy to lend a hand!

We've mastered loose leash walking (or at least we're happy with where we're at)

Well that was fast! Going forward you may need to occasionally play "Walk Like a Champ" games to keep your skills strong, but for now, you should find another game or course that interests you. Conveniently, playing anything with your dog ultimately strengthens your relationship and makes walking easier.

Here are some other popular courses in Harper:

  • House Party
  • Place
  • Tug
  • Stay

We're frustrated with walking right now and don't want to do it

We completely understand that feeling. We find it always helps to dig deep and look for one reason to be optimistic. Is there at least one part of the course that worked really well for you? Have you had success teaching your pup something in the past, even if it was just sit or down? Any of those are reasons to be confident that given enough time and perseverance, you can teach your dog anything.

That said, now isn't a bad time to explore some other Harper courses. Teaching and playing with your dog, even if it's not directly related to walking on a leash, can only help you when you decide to revisit that skill.

Here are some games and courses you might want to try out:

  • House Party
  • Roll Over
  • Place
  • Tug

Still not sure what to do next or can't find the answers you need to get unstuck? Reach out to us at Harper. We love to help!