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WWM Online Training Courses

Foundational Skills

Being a Responsible Dog Owner

You are taking steps to be a responsible dog owner. Recalls, both formal and informal, can save your dog’s life.


Until your dog has a reliable recall in any distracting situation, your dog must be on leash. There are two very convincing reason why.

First - the leash will keep your dog safe until she makes the right choice. You do not want a bad choice to result in tragedy. Leashes and long lines keep your dog under an element of control until behavior is solid for that particular situation.

Second - leashes will prevent your dog from going to other people and other dogs who are passing by. Not everyone likes dogs (strange, but true). Not all dogs like other dogs. Even if your dog is calm and friendly, visiting or sniffing a strange dog is not okay. It’s not just about your dog.

Cardinal Rule - So no off-leash walks or open-area public play until your dog has a solid recall.

What Is Walking With Manners?

Let’s start by defining what walking with manners really means. When you take your dog for a walk, what are your expectations? Everyone is different, so you need to decide what an enjoyable walk with your dog looks like. Once you have a clear idea of what you want, then it will be much easier to decide on a training path that will get you there.

When going for walks with your dog, you want to make sure it is enjoyable for BOTH you and your dog. A walk is not just exercise. It is a time to bond with your dog and to enjoy each other’s company. Once you know what you want in your walks, also consider what your dog wants (within reason). Each dog has their own set of favorite behaviors. Some love to sniff and sniff and sniff. Others like to mark. Some love to run back and forth, zig-zag, jump, and others want to just chill and enjoy the fresh air. The ones who love to chase, pull, lunge, or bark at things will need to learn to replace those favorite behaviors with ones that are more appropriate.

So get a clea picture in your mind of what you want your walks to look like, and then find the path you need to take to get there.

This online training course address the many aspects of walking with manners. It is divided into sections so that you clearly know where to go to reach your target for what you want in a walk with your dog. So, check out each section and see what amazing and fun training lessons and games will help you to reach your goals with your dog so that walks truly are a wonderful walk in the park.

Tips for Walking With Manners

No matter what your starting point is with your dog with walks, you will find super valuable information and training in this course. But before you begin, it is important to be prepared for training and have some handy tips available so that you start off on the right foot, and paw.


These tips are for puppies and young dogs just starting out with walking-on-leash skills. There are no bad habits that have been developed, so you have a clean slate to work with.


These tips are for dogs that do kinda well, but need some help to fine tune certain leash skills and environment skills. The adjustement that need to be made are minor, but importnat to make the walk much more enjoyable.


These tips are for dogs that have a big overhaul needed for walks to be enjoyable. These are dogs that have bad habits or are environmentally distractible so walks are a chore and not fun.



One key to successful walks is a strong foundation of basic skills. The lessons and games in this section teach your dog foundational skills and choices necessary for enjoyable walks together/. Your dog must have value in staying close to you for nice walks. If your dog stays close to you, there is no pulling on the leash. Your presence is more influential when your dog is close, so close proximity helps your dog keep focus on you instead of the environment, and it is must easier to redirect when you dog is close. Walking is a team activity, and the tea must have top priority.

Lessons On This Page


This page is all about foundational skills. May are games that will teach your dog to make the right choice. Others are skills that you will want to hone first inside, then outside, in order to have a strong foundation on which you will build walking with manners.

  1. Pick Me! Game
  2. Collar Holds (Grab)
  3. Orientation Basics Game
  4. Orientation Fun! (Side to Side)
  5. Attention Sound
  6. Following a Lure
  7. Movement Games - Walk N’ Drop
  8. Movement Games - Follow Me

Pick Me Game


Games do not involve cuing. This style of training requires waiting for your puppy to do the behavior you want or to make the right decision. It can be tough to wait and not say anything, but this is important. Your dog should learn to manage his behavior so that you don't have to cue it all the time. That is where the games come in.

Teach your puppy how wonderful and valuable it is to be near you, to come back to you, and to check in with you! We start now while your puppy wants to be near you. You will portion out some of your puppy's kibble from a meal to play the game.

Play to build that bond between you and your puppy, depositing into the relationship bank account! Build trust, confidence, and focus. Build value in turning to you (orientation, dealing with distractions, walking with manners, recall). Build value in wanting to be close to you (proximity, walking with manners). Build value in coming back to you (recall, walking with manners). Teach the value of checking in with you (walking with manners, focus). All that in one simple game!

This game is a must throughout your dog's life with you!!! You will also find that there will be more like this later - to help you keep your value as your pup grows through different developmental stages. I still play this game with my adult dogs every time we go outside.

The fun of the game is the bouncing of your puppy to and from you. Your pup will need to learn to focus on tracking a tossed piece of food, and the fun in chasing after it. You want it to be fun, but not out of control, so use a calm, but happy voice.

Stack your rewards. Use praise, always! Add in petting and affection, if your puppy loves that, when he/she comes to you, as well as the higher value treat. If your puppy stays at your side and doesn't follow the tossed food, your puppy picked you, so reward that. Then, switch out the high-value treat and use the same value so you can create some fun sending your puppy out and bringing him back in. Most importantly, play and have fun!

This game will be so useful for other concept games, cues, and behaviors in the future! It's so amazing how something so simple can do so much!

Collar Grab/Hold


It is a hold on the collar, and does not involve any pulling or yanking. Practice positive associations when you hold the collar or harness. If you start now, you will be able to have a simple and positive way of gaining control of your dog.

Many dogs develop a negative association with this because something the dog does not like (punishment) follows. That then causes problems down the road with off-leash scenarios and with recall (come cue).So be proactive and conscientious about how you handle your pup and make sure it all has good associations.

Collar grabs come in handy for very nippy/mouthy pups who like to grab on to clothes and not let go. Use a collar grab to eliminate the ability to pull by applying gentle pressure towards you. When your pup lets go, you can mark and reward and then redirect your puppy on to something more appropriate.

Collar grabs, when they have positive associations, can also help in calming a dog down a little.

It can also be a tactic when a dog is playing tug with a toy and does not know to let go on cue yet.

Attention Sound


When outside, it is importnat to be able to get your dog’s attention. Words can get ignored by a dog when there are other interesting things going on in the environment. Having a unique sound to get your dog’s attention will come in handy when you need to faciliatate a check-in, or when you need to get your dog’s attention off of something and back on to you. Sounds also come in handy when changing directions. It just gives you dog a heads up so that tugs on the leash can be avoided.

Following a Lure


If your puppy is good at following a lure, then it will be easier to teach additional cues down the road. It also helps in leading, not pulling or pushing, your puppy in different directions, and on and off things. It provides better off-leash control and allows you to avoid pulling on the leash to move or train your dog, which will help in preventing leash frustration in the future.

This cue will also help in teaching bite-inhibition. The rule is nose only, absolutely no teeth! Use this skill to also teach "four on the floor," for you will only say your reward marker and reward your puppy if all four paws are on the floor.          

It will also allow you to practice using your Reward Marker and No Reward Marker (for mouthing and jumping) and get your timing down. Get into the habit of using your markers. They come into play and are crucial with games and also for more complex cues we will teach down the road.

***SPECIAL NOTE: In no way, shape or form is the food held for the dog to see. Tuck it inside your fist. That is important! Check yourself!

Orientation Game Basics


Orientation games are outstanding to play with your dog throughout their life. It promotes a healthy relationship and builds skills with loose leash walking, recall, focus, and so much more! Play the games inside first. Build fun and drive for the game and quick auto-orientation.

You want this to be a strong automatic behavior, so play often. You will continue to build on this throughout the training.

Throw a piece of kibbledown a hall or room - you can toss in one direction away from you to start, similar to the PickMe Game. Variations on this game to build focus are in the future. One is below.

This game differs from the Pick Me! Game in that your puppy does not need to return to you, just orient (turn), and focus back on you, which may or may not be direct eye-contact. You shouldn't be too picky, especially in the beginning stages of the game. Nose off the ground would be an excellent addition after the orientation is consistent. The difference between these two games is where you say your Reward Marker - when your dog turns around to you (orientation), or when your dog returns to you (proximity).

Play this game with food, but also incorporate playing with toys - this can be a great final reward for the end of the game as well.

The basic orientation game is excellent to play first thing in the morning when a puppy's battery is full, but yours is not. And when your puppy has a bunch of energy and is a bit mouthy, you can play this game to work through that initial bit of energy before working through more focused games and cues. Or in the evening, when you are tired from work but you need to get some energy out of your puppy. 

It is exercise - physical exercise but with structure. Your puppy gets to move, run, and chase, but it is not a free-for-all. Your puppy is learning to redirect attention back to you. It also keeps four paws on the floor and helps build your relationship!  

Orientation is a prerequisite for recall and off-leash control. It also is critical for dealing with distractions. So, you want your pup to be super good atorientation. The Side to Side game below is a rendition on the original game that ramps it up and brings more drive and more fun in orientation.

Orientation FUN Side to Side


This game builds on the original game and creates momentum and fun for orientation. It also works through flexibility in working side to side, rather than always turning to face directly to you. It is a useful game for high energy puppies and when batteries are full. I use this game often first thing in the morning to burn off some of that initial energy, and also in the evening when puppy zoomies often occur. It is also fun to play outside to support focus on you in the more distracting environment.

Movement Games: Walk n' Drop and Follow Me


It is essential to teach your puppy the concept of people moving about, and your puppy should either hang back out of the way, or walk with them (following, but staying out of the way and learning to respect space), and inhibiting nipping and mouthing with moving people. Excitement levels accentuate this behavior, so this is your "go-to" game to work out bite-inhibition and basic manners with movement whenever your puppy is not in management (in a crate, ex-pen or behind a gate). Movement games are the perfect games to teach all appropriate behavior - whether the person moving is slow, regular or fast, make a sudden directionchange, or some erratic movement. It is also a great foundational skill for walks later on.

No cues! Capturing gives you a variety of behaviors you can mark and reward rather than just one, like with a cue. For puppies new to the idea of "training" and how it all works, frequent reinforcement is needed.

In the beginning, your puppy may jump or nip - which you will respond by taking fewer steps, slower movement, and capture good behavior sooner. If the jumping happens, but then your puppy catches herself and offers a better choice, reward it. That is the beginning stage of learning.

Over time, you will begin to change the expectation (called raising criteria) and only mark and reward when the absence of any undesired behavior happens to prevent "behavior chains" that involves an unwanted behavior followed by the correct response.

Remember to build up to a faster and more unpredictable movement over time. Typically where the difficulty lies is when your pup is more excited or in the morning when the "battery is full."

Look (Eye-Contact on Cue)


Eye contact is the first line of communication between you and your dog. If your puppy is looking at you, you have his attention. It makes training much more manageable. Having your dog good at breaking eye-contact with something helps to alleviate anxiety and excitement and is crucial for working through distractions.

Socialization: It builds a tight bond between you and your puppy so that you can be your puppy’s anchor. It helps to redirect your puppy’s attention off of things hemay be unsure about during socialization experiences and back on to you where you can help support him through the situation.

Possession: It can also help in support of preventing guarding behaviors and teaching your puppy to look away from valued items, therefore lessening ownership.

Teamwork: If your puppy gives you eye-contact, you know that he includes you in the experience. That is crucial when out walking, especially if you have goals of having your dog off-leash. It is imperative to reinforce "check-ins" when your puppy offers you eye-contact on his own.

Focus: Remember that focus is not just about eye-contact, but this is where it all starts! Eye-contact is your first line of communication.

Working with distractions and in public areas: Looking at you on cue helps you to work your puppy through distractions and keeps your puppy's focus on you.



(Looser in structure, designed for the companion dog and not obedience/rally competition structure which is more regimented.)

Here is a proximity cue you can teach your puppy. It is called "Finish" (but you can use whatever verbal cue you would like), and it is to get your dog into the heel position sitting at your side. The video and instructions use the left side, but if you walk you dog on the right side just flip it. You can also train both sides and give each side it's own verbal cue.

Teaching your dog to finish is helpful for afew reasons:

  1. It gets your dog to the correct side beforestarting the walk and eliminates any leash pulling or "steering." This in turn can help to prevent leash frustration.
  2. It can help when working on leash pulling exercises.
  3. If you plan on teaching your dog to heel, this is a basic step.

I have included the link and the written instructions for you. In addition, the handout provides tips for working your dog beyond basics and get you started (if you haven't already) working with your dog in the heel position. This is all in preparation for teaching your dog loose leash walking and even a formal heel down the road.