This page on Street Safety Training is part of the Advanced Course of the
D.S. Dog Training Workshop, and an element of the Dog Science Network

Comprehensive Behavioral Conditioning for Dogs
Section One of the Advanced Course

Street Safety Training
Page One of a three-page section

Go to the street safety training index

Street Safety Training

The purpose of street training is to teach your dog never to go into the street unless he first receives permission to do so. That will accomplish a couple things. First, obviously, if your dog is walking off-lead, it will keep him from darting into the street and getting run over. Also, it has the added bonus of guaranteeing that if your dog gets out of the yard and wanders off, you will at least know that he is still somewhere on your block, since it would be impossible for him to leave his home block without first entering the street.

To set the stage for street training, you will need to take your dog for frequent walks through the neighborhood, preferably in an area where the blocks are short, so that as you move down the sidewalk you will quickly encounter one street after another without having to walk too far to get to the next one. That should provide you with many opportunities to teach your dog how to behave when he comes to a roadway.

Teaching Street Safety to the On-Lead Dog

Street training is fairly straightforward when you are walking your dog with the lead attached, especially if he has already been trained to sit on command. In that case, all you need to do is to command your dog to sit every time you come to a street, and insist that he stay in that posture until you either give him the release command or command him to walk forward in the heel position.

If you are walking free form with an on-lead dog who does not already know how to sit, then, every time you approach a street, you need to make it a point to have the lead drawn in tight, so that your dog will be near enough to you to allow you to easily put your hands on him. Then, every time, just before you reach the street, place your hands on the animal and command him to sit, before moving him into the correct posture, just as you would if you were teaching your dog to sit in any other circumstance.

After your dog has obeyed your command to sit, and you have checked to make sure that the roadway is clear, give him the release command just an instant before you step into the street with him.

If your on-lead dog was walking on command in the heel position as you reached the street, then, he should have sat down when you stopped walking. In that circumstance, command him to heel as the two of you step off the curb and into the street together.

If you follow that routine long enough, always insisting that your dog stop and sit at every curb, and you make sure that the experience is sufficiently rewarding, then, within a period of a few weeks to several months, you will find that upon arrival at every curb, your dog will begin to sit on his own accord, and wait for the release command.

Teaching Street Safety to the Off-Lead Dog

First off, I am assuming that your off-lead dog will be walking within a few feet of you, and that his distance and his disposition will allow you to close the ground to where he is and lay hands on him in a matter of seconds.

However, if your dog insists on walking a distance from you, or if he is so skittish that you are unable to rush to his side and lay hands on him in short order, then, you need to give careful thought to whether you should have your dog off-lead in the first place. If your goal is to train your dog to walk off-lead in a disciplined fashion, then, be sure that you first read about how to control an off-lead dog.

When teaching street safety to an off-lead dog, you have a couple choices. When you reach the street, you can either give the sit command and manually move your dog into position as previously described, or, you can simply give him the release command a couple seconds before your dog's stride carries him off the curb and into the street, so that, essentially, instead of giving your dog instructions on how to stop properly, you simply give him the go-ahead okay command that tells him that it is all right to proceed.

Therefore, while you are out strolling your local sidewalk with your canine companion walking close by your side, you will need to watch the animal closely as the two of you approach the street, because you have to time it just right. Then, just a couple steps before your dog reaches the road, you should tell him okay, to let him know that he has your permission to leave the curb and enter the street.

Unless you have previously done obedience work with your dog, he will probably not even know what okay means. And even if he does understand the word to be a term of permission, it still may take him a while to come to an understanding of why it is that you always say it to him just a second or two before he steps into the street.

Nonetheless, go ahead and work the drill described in the last few paragraphs for at least several weeks in order to give your dog plenty of time to develop the expectation that one of three things will always happen, every time you and he arrive at a street. Your dog needs to be given enough time and afforded the opportunity to engage in enough repetitions to form the expectation that every time the two of you come to a street that either you will:

  1. Insist that he sit every time he reaches a curb, or
  2. you will say okay to him just a second or two before his stride carries him into the street.
  3. Or, you will command him forward, into the street, by issuing the comand to Heel.
If you are working with a young puppy, you may need to give him a couple months to develop enough cognitively to focus on his surroundings and come to fully realize that for whatever reason, his human companions always either stop curbside with him and make him sit and wait for the release command before proceeding, or they tell him okay just an instant before they step off the curb and into the street with him.

The next page will cover a new phase of street safety training, and tell you how you can use a do this - not that, procedure to help your dog understand that he is to sit and wait on the curb until he is given the okay to enter the street.

However, be he young or old, before you proceed on to the this - not that, phase of street safety training, it is absolutely essential that you first give your dog time to develop the expectation that you will always do one of those three things whenever the two of you arrive at a road.

Go forward to page two of the street safety training section

Go to the street safety training index

This page on Street Safety Training is part of the Advanced Course of the
D.S. Dog Training Workshop, and an element of the Dog Science Network