BH270: Build Your Bond - Relationship Walks

Instructor: Donna Hill

Course Details

Did you know that every time you take your dog out for a walk, you could be building on your connection? Learn some simple ways to maximize your time improving fluency and generalizing behaviors for competition too! Your dog will choose to stay engaged with you instead of pulling, sniffing or running away from you! 

In this class we'll use some games we can play on leash using behaviors he already knows. We will also learn how to use a long line effectively and how to get behaviors at a distance. If your dog is ready for it, you can try going leash free. We'll use sidewalks, trails, open areas and whatever else you have access to! 

Did you know there are different kinds of walks? We will explore how much exercise and what kind your dog really needs and how often he needs it. Your dream of physically and mentally tiring your dog without having to walk or hike for miles (or throwing balls until your arm falls off) is possible! 

Can you trust your dog? If so, he will learn to trust you! Giving him more choice helps build a stronger relationship.

We will explore the use of meditation, massage and TTouch at home and on walks for improved focus (for both you and your dog!). Don't worry, it all has practical application! (I know, some of you are probably surprised that I, a science-based trainer, uses these approaches.  Surprise! One of the benefits of an open mind is what it brings!)

Varying your locations is often a challenge so we'll address that too! With a list to draw from, you can plan an effective walk in minutes. All this will help you and your dog to become better working partners! We'll also look at an easy way to stay organized with all the possible locations and behaviors you can do. 

We'll also take a practical look at the use of different reinforcers and the role they play in training in distractions. The goal is to get your dog focussed on the job you have asked him to do while ignoring what is going on around him. 

Each week builds on the skills and attention of the previous week so you will build the relationship as you go. At the end of the six weeks, you may also see improvement in your dog's loose leash walking since all of the games have a component of connection with you and use Premack's Principle to strengthen them. Loose leash walking is usually a byproduct of building the bond! A dog that wants to be with you is a dog that chooses to stay close to you.

This class is just the tip of the iceberg on what is possible for walks. Be sure to join us to tap into this 'seldom used' training approach.

This class is suitable for:

  • Dogs and handlers at all levels of skill
  • Whether your dog needs to stay on leash or can work off, you will want to integrate this approach into your daily life and will discover things you can do to improve your relationship and your dog's ability to stay focussed on you and what you are asking him to do! 

We will focus on:
-where is your bond at now?
-different kinds of walks
-teaching and generalizing directionals (this is added for my former Stir Crazy students!)
-using a stations approach on walks (building from the ground up)
-some simple ways to teach your dog to change position near you (great for when he is leashed or long-lined).
-using distractions to your advantage
-use paw targeting to get exercise and do behaviors at a distance
-how to calm your dog on a walk (especially for the adrenaline retrieving junkies)
-practice loose leash walking and competition heeling games during real life walks!


There are no scheduled sessions for this class at this time. We update our schedule frequently, so please subscribe to our mailing list for notifications.

Registration begins at 9:30am PDT. 

Enrollment limits: 10 golds, 25 silver, unlimited bronze. If you are interested in a bronze level spot you can sign up any time during the registration period.


Week 1 
Introduction-What is a Relationship? Types of Walks
Lecture 1: Basis of the Bond
Build your Bond Game 1: What are you Interested In?
Build your Bond Game 2: Here’s Looking at You!
Lecture 2: Due Consideration of Reinforcers And How You Use Them
Build the Bond: Game 3: Left and Right
Homework Assignment 1
Week 2

Lecture 3: Generalization, Proofing or Concept?
Lecture 4: A Stations Approach
Build Your Bond Game 4 Taking it on the Road
Lecture 5: Applying Premack's Principle
Build Your Bond Game 5: The Paw Target
Building the Bond Game 6: Changing Sides
Building the Bond Game 7: Spin at Side
Homework Assignment 2
Week 3
Lecture 6: Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs
Quality of connection
Building the Bond Game 8: Sniffing on Cue
Build the Bond Game 9: Long Lines
Lecture 7: Using a Long Line
Building the Bond Game 11: Loose Leash Walking
Homework Assignment 3

 Week 4

Lecture 8: Connection Walks -Your Dog’s Turn
Build the Bond Game 12: Sniff Walk
Build the Bond Game 13: Find it and Retrieve
Build the Bond Game 14: Scent Work 
Homework Assignment 4
Week 5
Lecture 9: Fading Reinforcers 
Build the Bond Game 15: Hands on Massage
Build the Bond Game 16: TTouch
Build the Bond Game 17: Defined Pathway
Homework Assignment 5
Week 6
Lecture 10: Leash Free Walks 
Lecture 11 Managing all the Options: Locations, Activities
Build the Bond Game 18: Pendulum walk
Lecture 12: Parkour Games
Build the Bond Game 19: On and Off 
Build the Bond Game 20: Around Poles
Build the Bond Game 21: Walk Cement Barriers
Testing Your Bond (again)
Homework Assignment 6

Prerequisites and Equipment

At least 5 behaviors that are on hand and verbal cue that are ready to be generalized to outdoor and other situations. If you have many more - GREAT! Let's start with your your dog where s/he is at. 

Equipment depends on the behaviors you choose.
Ideally, choose behaviors that don't need much equipment or you can use what is in the environments where you walk. 

sit, down, stand, spin, paw, back up, leave it, the beginnings of loose leash walking etc.
nose target, paw target (of an ice cream lid), 
around (use posts and poles), up and off (using logs, rock etc)
retrieve and finding objects by scent are handy to add variety

You and your dog will learn a few more during the class as examples. 

You will need: 

  • a clicker with a raised button (i-clicker or louder),
  • treat pouch or pockets (no plastic bags allowed on walks)
  • and plenty of treats of varying value for each walk.
  • 6 foot light weight leash
  • 20-30 foot lightweight long line (We'll have a discussion about long lines in class) Try your local hardware store and buy 20-30 feet of lightweight webbing that will shed dirt/water and a caribiner clip to tie on one end. If you want to buy online, look for biothane long lines
  • digital camera or phone with camera
  • tripod or selfie stick that you can stand in a pot of sand etc for your camera

Course Testimonials

Brand New Course April 2016

Please refer to the instructor bio page for sample testimonials from other courses she has taught.