Treats vs Loyalty?

When the three of us are out walking, Ray will often try and impact whatever route decisions need to be made and, in many cases, we let him. The walk is, after all, designed around his needs and if it wasn’t for Ray, would we be out walking this regularly? We do, however, sometimes have an agenda of our own which we fit in with Ray’s walk as best we can.

He has a number of strategies designed to force his input into the route planning, the most common of which is to simply stop and stand there looking at us. It would appear that some form of mental telepathy is supposed to be in progress at that time which will make us realize exactly where we are really supposed to be going!

A variation on that is to simply pull in the direction that he thinks that we should go. Sometimes he  uses both! This would happen as we approach a place of interest (to him) but we are on the wrong side of the road. He may stop first to make his displeasure known, but then concede because we are probably going to cross the road soon to go there. When he realizes that we are not going to cross, he will pull quite hard diagonally in an effort to cross the road. (As an aside, he has no concept of traffic and the danger it can present!).

His final attempt at influencing us is by sitting down! A sitting Ray is quite a challenge and, short of bribing him with treats (not a chance!), what else can we do? We are not going to reward the behavior because we would be giving him the wrong message. (“I fancy some treats so I’ll just park my 75lbs here and wait!”).

The solution was to capitalize on his attachment to both of us. If he stopped and/or parked his rear on the sidewalk, one of us would just walk on ahead (Plan A) and eventually he would give up and get everybody back together again.

Earlier this week we were both out with Ray and Carol was holding his leash. We were heading for a store, as we needed a few supplies, and across the other side of our road was a strip mall which included Bark & Fitz (pet supplies). As soon as Ray realized that we were not going to cross the road to Bark & Fitz, he put the brakes on and just stood there.

I immediately started walking away from them and towards the store that we needed to visit. Glancing back at intervals, I was quite surprised at how far Ray was letting me go without him moving. A minute or two later I glanced back again and Ray was still standing there! There was a building very close to me that had a side access so I quickly turned there (Plan B) and was therefore out of sight of Ray. It wasn’t long before he trotted by with Carol in tow!

I guess we have a pretty foolproof plan for getting through these obstacles, but what happens if his desire to visit a pet store, or Lululemon, or TD Bank, or any one of a number of other places, is greater than his desire for his “pack” to be together? What happens when treats become more important than loyalty? We are going to need a Plan C!

10 thoughts on “Treats vs Loyalty?

  1. Kali does the same thing (stopping in her tracks) but I’m not exactly sure why. I originally thought it was for treats because we do some training along our daily walk along the trails around our home and i always bring some in my pocket. The trainer we hired (to train us!) when we first rescued Kali suggested that she stopped because she was scared or anxious about her new surroundings. She eventually got over it but recently has begun doing it again – usually on the way home.

    SO, you’re experience with Ray might suggest that Kali knows we are heading back home and would prefer to continue on somewhere else(?). Like you I resist using the treats to get her moving. What I’ve begun to do is stand with my back to her facing off away somewhere with the lease stretched out all 6 feet. Within a few seconds she is back by my side looking up at me as if to say, “why have you stopped, lets go”.

    Fun times with these dogs, eh?

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    • Yes ………. we’ve gone through the “I’m getting my bearings”; “Don’t want to go home”; “How about a treat?” and even “I simply want to stop”, all of which would appear to be quite valid possibilities. I’ve done the “turn your back on him and wait” a number of times with success when it has just been Ray and I. The rules appear to change a little when both of us are out with him. They certainly are a lot of fun for anybody who wants to take the time to try and understand them.


  2. My Ray does all of those things as well, except for the sitting. If he is done he lies down. I’ve found that an excited squeaky voice and an invitation to follow works well. He also sometimes stops if we are at a crossing that he believes will lead us home, so I say, “let’s go this way.” Which also often works.

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    • They are interesting aren’t they. I remember one of the Humane Society trainers telling us that we must make what we want to do, sound more exciting than what he wants to do …. hence squeaky and hyper voice! My vocal range is in the lower register however so squeaky is a bit of a challenge! 🙂

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  3. Hi, Colin! It’s me, Noodle! I’ve been wondering where you and Ray have been lately. There’s a lot of activity on my blog and that’s cool but i really miss my BBB (best blog buddy). No one can replace him you know. You guys must be real busy going on lots of walks. Please tell Ray that i said hi 🙂

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  4. Yes, dogs love to use their psychic powers on us! Stare long enough and the treat will materialize in my mouth. .. I used the same techniques as you. Both our boys don’t like the separation. I’d say ‘bye! See you later’ they come running. I think that is key. Ray already feels it, you just need to work it (love the round the corner trick). Remember, you’re the one in training, not Ray… 😉

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  5. Agree with everything you say. With Ray showing no signs of any training (at approx 2-1/2 yrs old) when he came to live with us, we knew that it was potentially going to be a slow job. Patience! Patience! Patience! A puppy must be much more responsive! 🙂


  6. As I was working, Hubby did most of Maggie’s training but off lead. Sadly we didn’t concentrate enough on the leadwork in those first important months so she tends to pull, though she is now much better than she was, especially one on one. We purchased a harness and that seemed to be better than clipping her lead to her collar. When loose though, she has never liked it when we separate as she doesn’t know who to follow. If she’s more interested in sniffing something than being with us, we may eventually say ‘Bye Maggie’ and that usually results in her trotting up to us.
    All dogs are different, but I’ll always remember my dog psychology tutor saying ‘a dog has to want to be with you’ when so many were having problems with recall. Whatever works for you (treats, fuss, etc), but don’t do what I did, and let the dog get away with too much! (Previous dog, not Maggie!!) 🙂

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