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Moving Attention

Moving Attention means, "walk by my side while giving me your complete attention."

Moving Attention is an excellent skill for navigating crowded spaces, tempting distractions, or other tricky road blocks. To train your dog to walk by your side and pay attention to you at the same time, simply build on your dog's attention skills:

Step 1. You can walk and pay attention at the same time
While facing your dog, say her name once in a clear tone, "Fido" while you take a few steps backward. As soon as your dog is making eye contact and following you, click and treat. Try to deliver the treat while your dog is still moving with you. Slip-on shoes are not recommended for this exercise!

Step 2. You can walk with me while we are both facing the same direction
Once your dog is responding easily to you while you are backing up and she is following you, begin to take a couple of steps backward, and then move so that you are facing the same way your dog is facing and you are walking forward. Click and treat as soon as your dog is walking by your side and paying attention.

Step 3. We can start out facing the same direction
Once your dog is comfortable walking several steps in a straight line after you have pivoted to face your direction of movement, begin to ask her to start out at your side. To do this, you may choose to put her in a sit so that you can position yourself at her side, or you may just start walking and prompt her to your side by patting your leg or offering her a treat.

Tips to Make Things Easier:

  • Hold your leash in the hand opposite your dog. This leaves the hand closest to your dog free to deliver treats without accidentally luring your dog across your body into prime tripping position.
  • Use a bait bag, apron or fanny pack to keep your treats on the side closest to the dog so you don't have to switch hands to refill your treat hand.
  • Walk at a brisk pace as though you are going somewhere important. Momentum can help you and your dog continue smoothly past distractions and keeps things interesting for the active dog.
  • Keep sessions short and fun. Walk a few steps with your dog, click and treat, and then break for a couple of tricks or easy behaviors such as sit and down.

Moving Attention vs. Loose Leash Walking. While Moving Attention is very useful in class and in crowded situations, it is unrealistic for your dog to pay attention to you throughout your entire neighborhood walk and be able to take care of potty business. For extended walks, practice Loose Leash Walking (see handout).