Off-Leash Training: Using A Training Loop

Training loops are used to transition a dog to off-leash training. Everyone wants their dog to listen to their cues and be well behaved off the leash. Off-Leash training is a huge goal for most dog owners, and a training loop is an excellent tool.

The Wags & Wiggles Online Classroom discusses Training Loops to keep dog’s engaged.

Training Loops can be essential when training non-traditional breeds, like Shiba Inus. A Training Loop is a term made up by the trainers at Wags & Wiggles to describe a technique we use to improve focus and drive. This post will describe one Shiba Inu named Gideon’s journey and how we used a Training Loop to start his off-leash agility training.

While we train all breeds, some dogs are naturally predisposed to pay better attention and be less distracted. These easier dogs do allow for the handler to make some mistakes with low consequences.

You can learn a lot from training a Shiba Inu. This breed is highly stimulated by the opportunities to be distracted and not respond to cues. Running away, stealing food or leaves, or sniffing can be more exciting than working for their owner. Proper use of The Training Loop will keep your training productive.

The Training Loop Parts

The Training Loop has 3 parts to the loop. Part 1 is your starting station. Part 2 is the behavior or sequence of behaviors you plan to train. Part 3 is the ending station.

The Training Loop Start and End Station can be the same. A Trained down stay on the mat can be the perfect station behavior.

If your dog doesn’t have this behavior, you can use an exercise pen or crate. The dog needs to be contained, so they know exactly when its time to work or rest in between training sessions.

If you don’t have a start or end station, the dog will disengage and find other reinforcement or activities more fun that isn’t part of the training game.

Transport Behaviors

A Transport Behavior is something you can use to get the dog from the start station to the working area or back to the end station.

Some transport behaviors are easier than others. Some require more training. A dog can follow a treat in your hand or tug on a toy back to the station.

A dog can be trained to have a formal heel from point A to point B. You can also train your dog to stay at the station and then recall them to the working area.

Many clients want their dog to be off the leash and pay attention. Training Loops and transport behaviors can be one step towards that goal.

What Are You Training?

The Training Loop also consists of the actual training session. This session is what you hope to accomplish in the 2-5 minute working session with your dog. This is the meat of the Training Loop.

It would be best if you took some time to determine the steps in your shaping plan to get this behavior. Do you have the behavior yet? Or are you trying to get the behavior on cue? Are you working through Duration, Distance, or Distractions?

Paying attention to all parts of the loop will make your training more productive.

Training Loop and Mistakes

In every training session, either the handler or the dog will make a mistake. The Training Loop gives you tools to start the session over without losing focus.

The start and end stations of the loop allow the dog to earn reinforcement even if the trained behavior didn’t go quite right.

Most dogs will disconnect, sniff, or run around when training doesn’t go how they thought it would. If the dog is off-leash, this can cause them to run away and get into dangerous situations.

Owners can get frustrated when their dog’s run away during off leash adventures. Resorting to punishment can make the problem worse.

The Training Loop prevents these miscommunications and lost opportunities for reinforcement, causing stress behaviors and failures in off-leash training.

Here are 2 more videos of different training sessions using a training loop to keep focus and drive.

Have a specific question? Leave a comment below!

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