Besides having a good Recall (aka your dog reliably comes to you), there are some position tools you can use for off-leash dogs.
You can also use these for your on-leash dogs, especially if they are reactive, because they help the dog feel they are in a safe zone. Or, maybe you need to keep your dog with you after a recall, such as if you need to keep him away from something (for example, if a cat appears on your walk).
This is a position that places the dog between your legs. It will help give your dog a feeling of safety by providing some snuggling. It will also aide in giving you control, including quick access for a collar grab.
Here is how you train it:
Step 1 – This is the most important step of all. I cannot emphasize enough how important it is that you teach this step slowly enough and thoroughly enough before proceeding to the next step. You must gradually condition your dog to be comfortable in this position. Because you will be above the dog’s body, it can be uncomfortable for some dogs.
First lure or shape the dog to come between your legs. You can also use a hand target to move him into position.
Highly reinforce him when he does this. Use a high value treat. You may need to begin with just his nose being between your legs. Click and treat when he does this. Be sure he is comfortable with that before moving on.
Then have him bring part of his head between your legs – click and treat until he is comfortable there. Move on to having all of his head in position, and then move on to having his shoulders in position. Offer multiple treats in position to keep things positive.
Now Turn It Into A Game
Step 2 – Teach him to find the position from different angles. You can do this by tossing a treat away from you to reset him. You can help him find the position by turning your body as needed and / or use a hand target. Here is where you can turn it into a fun game.
Step 3 – Put it on verbal cue. Keep it fun paced.
Step 4 – Start asking for the position with distractions or in different locations. Just be sure to only increase the challenge one piece at a time, either with a new distraction or in a different location.
Don’t add both at the same time.
Also, remember with a Reactive Dog that distance can be your best friend. So be sure to work at your dog’s pace.
You can also teach the dog to move forward in the “Between” position. Always keep it fun for the dog and reinforce / reward with treats as you move forward.
Becoming a Position Your Dog Wants
If you play it often enough, your dog will learn to find the position on his own.
For example, when my dog hears a gun shot, he will automatically find his safe spot, on his own. When we originally started this position, he was hesitant to go into the position. But with positive reinforcement, he began to be classically conditioned to like it and now wants to be in the position when he feels he needs to.
Here is a video showing a quick demo: