This week's question is about leash walking.
In class, there are three different methods used for training loose leash walking. I like to teach students all three, because different dogs respond to different techniques in different ways -- usually there is one of the methods which seems to particularly stick with the dog.
Technique #1 doesn't use treat rewards; instead the walk itself functions as the reward, and the dog is allowed to continue walking as long as it doesn't pull. If it pulls, then the walk comes to a halt.
Technique #2 *does* use treat rewards; whenever the dog happens to look up at you, mark and treat.
The question was "Should the dog have to be looking at you when you are doing Technique #1? Because from Technique #2 it seems that we are trying to teach the dog to look at us while walking."
The answer is...Nope! What we are actually doing here with Techniques #1 and #2 is showing the dog both styles of leash walking. Technique #1 is for just your everyday, informal walks. These walks should be fun for the dog too! As long as the simple "no pulling" rule is followed, on informal walks the dog is free to look around, even to sniff as long as that doesn't cause it to pull.
Technique #2 continues to teach the dog that paying attention to the handler is valuable, and it sets in place a good foundation for the focused "heel" command.
Your dog will not be confused on whether it's required to walk with attention/looking at you or not; instead, he will start to learn that casual doesn't require looking, and formal does!