Category Archives: Obedience training

My Dog Knows How to Sit but Doesn’t Stay

This article was also published in Speaking of Dogs Newsletter January 2017.

This is a statement I commonly hear from dog owners and to which I usually reply “Have you done any stay training with your dog?” In the majority of cases, the answer is “When I feed my dog I tell him to stay and then release him to the food bowl.”

Well, that hardly constitutes stay training in any context other than dinnertime!

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To tug or not to tug?

Also published in January 2016 Speaking of Dogs Newsletter.

When you grab a toy, does your dog try to get it by nipping, jumping, and barking? Would your dog keep running after a ball forever? If so, you have a reinforcement at your disposal that you can use to train polite behaviours, so don’t give it to your dog for free!

Playing tug is a concept that still occasionally raises eyebrows, as one urban legend in dog training is that a dog can become aggressive if allowed to play tug or (heaven forbid) win the toy. These are concepts that are very much out of date, and, I often use tugging as a reward for behaviours when I want speed and enthusiasm, such as long-duration heeling or recalls.

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What Is Obedience in Dog Training?

This article was also published in August 2015 Speaking of Dogs Newsletter.

We humans expect our dogs to be obedient, but do we actually know what this term means with regard to dog training? Obedience training is a rather traditional term that often refers to obedience competitions and a more formal type of training, but it is synonymous with something called stimulus control.

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So your dog likes to chase things?

Here is a movie of Fenton, a Labrador who became a Youtube sensation after he decided to chase some deer at Richmond Park in UK. I’m sure most of us find this movie kind of funny but have also been in a similar situation with our own dogs when it becomes somewhat less funny.

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Control Unleashed always keeps teaching me new stuff!

I have been re-re-reading Leslie McDevitt’s CONTROL UNLEASHED: The Puppy Program. And every time I do it, I find new things to digest. I manage to put a lot of pressure on my dog wanting to trial him in obedience and tracking, and he is very sensitive to any kind of pressure. Two points from the book are like written for us:

“Whatever emotion any animal (including you) is feeling at the time he is learning something, will affect the learning process.” When I got my dog, I got frustrated in teaching him a down, and that baggage travels with us even today. Whenever I feel frustrated or tense, my dog just freezes when I ask him to do a down. I always need to take a deep breath and disengage, play with him a little to relax both of us, and then try again while being really happy.

“The trial environment is a big energy suck for them; they are constantly taking it all in at once with no filter and no break. There is just not much energy left to give the performance for which their handler was hoping for.” Isn’t this ever just like us!!! I have all these expectations for my dog to perform in the midst of overwhelming stimuli, how could he? We have a Rally trial coming up in a about a week, I do realize we haven’t done enough training for him to be able to cope with that environment. We will take the trial as an opportunity to play CU games. My goal will be to have a comfortable dog, not to get qualified scores.

First Rally trial with Forbes

Today March 9th, Oracle’s The Billionaire and myself got our first qualifying score in Canadian Kennel Club Rally Novice B trial. The trial was part of the big Purina show so the venue was big and busy. Continue reading

Tracking diary #2: shaping retrieve by back-chaining for article indication

In my tracking diary #1  I described how Forbes and I are training tracking using Steve White’s Hydration Intensified Tracking Training (HITT). The dog tracks human scent on the ground, however, just following the scent is not enough, the dog also has to somehow indicate any articles dropped by the lost person (search and rescue/tracking trials) or evidence dropped by the bad guy (police dogs). I believe that no matter what the official profession of the dog in question is, the way the dog indicates the article can be basically anything as long as it is unambiguous to the handler. Continue reading