Tag Archives: self-control

The Puppy Sessions

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We see lots of puppies and we want to see more puppies, and we want to see them earlier.

Waiting for your puppy to be finished his or her vaccinations or waiting until the nipping and the accidents and the chewing are driving you bonkers is too late to start your puppy’s education.

Book a puppy-session NOW and make sure that everyone gets off on the right paw!

What happens during a puppy session?

We talk about all the things that you can start to put in place so that puppy raising is easier and your puppy becomes a great, easy to live with, companion dog.

1. Social Experience

Not only must puppies know how to be dogs, but they must also know how to fit into human society – and that’s tough!

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We emphasise:

  • socialisation is not about your puppy learning to greet, play with and love everyone
  • socialisation is about your puppy learning that other people, dogs, animals and related goings-on are so normal that they’re not even worth getting worked up about
  • socialisation is about ensuring puppy has mostly positive experiences in social interactions
  • socialisation is about puppy learning how to behave appropriately in social situations

We will teach you how to teach your dog to greet politely, to manage their excitement and to teach others how to greet your puppy appropriately so your puppy doesn’t become over-whelmed, and learns that social greetings are positive, enjoyable and safe.

How to use your hand-link-a-Kong to teach all this:

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Teach puppy that people approaching makes a treat appear so that puppy learns that approaching humans are safe and so that puppy learns to focus on their own people when someone else is approaching:

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Puppies must get to play with other safe, healthy and appropriate dogs and puppies too.

We emphasise:

  • puppy doesn’t get to greet and play with every dog they see
  • to play with other dogs, puppy must be calm and responsive
  • play sessions must be short
  • humans supervise and actively shape puppy play behaviour throughout
  • play will be interrupted regularly for re-focus and calm, down-time

Teach puppies to be comfortable with collar grabs so that they can be restrained when needed:

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Off leash puppy activities must never be a free-for-all! 

2. Exposure & Experience

The world is a new, exciting and often scary place for puppies. As their new guide to the human-world, in which they will live, we want to gently and carefully expose them to all the things we want them to be able to cope with later on.

Think of the dog you want in two years time…you are preparing for that NOW!

We emphasise:

Hair dryers and vacuum cleaners don’t have to be scary, if they are introduced properly and early on:

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While your puppy is on vaccination hold (and beyond):

  • play Follow Me! so that you puppy learns how to walk politely, without a lead, before you are going on walks

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  • set up a couple of odd things everyday, in a new place in and around the house for puppy to explore

confidence course

Remember, when you start walking your puppy out and about, increase the size of their world very gradually (from the house to the street on the first day is plenty, and around local streets is lots for the first week) and take your time, stop with puppy and allow them to explore in their on time.

3. Mental Exercise

Puppies are active and inquisitive so let’s channel that energy, so it doesn’t become a people-problem and so that puppy is an active learner and problem solver.

We emphasise:

  • no food bowls for puppies!
  • training puppy throughout the day, working for their regular food

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  • using their brains (and noses) to work out how to find food and toys

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  • getting them hooked on chewing their chew toys and not your furniture, shoes or belongings

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  • allowing puppies to try things out, to experience a little frustration and even stress, and recovery

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And lots more ideas here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here and here.

4. Nipping & Bite Inhibition

All puppies do it, and most people are bothered by it.

Puppy nipping is important for puppies though so we put exercises in place to make sure puppies have an acceptable outlet for this behaviour, but preventing it from becoming to much trouble for people.

There are different schools of thought on this and lots of diverse advice.

We emphasise:

  • keeping interactions with puppy brief and low-key so puppy doesn’t become over-excited (they will often express that with mouthing and nipping)
  • making sure puppy has lots of down-time, settling and sleep (over tired puppies are like over tired toddlers…)
  • diverting puppy behaviour and using treats & toys so that we don’t need to restrain, physically manipulate or position puppy
  • redirecting teeth onto suitable toys
  • yelping and withdrawing for 5-10-count if we feel hard teeth
  • moving away from puppy 20-count timeout if they turn into a landshark
  • teaching puppies the rules of play with people
  • making sure puppies have lots of opportunities to play bitey-face games with other appropriate dogs

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5. Management

You already know all the behaviours that puppy is going to do that you are not going to like – squealing when left alone, chewing your belongings, toileting in the wrong places, and that’s just for starters.

So, if you know they’re going to bother you, why are you allowing them to happen?! Prevention is key.

Never allow puppy to practice unwanted behaviour so that they never learn to establish unwanted behaviours.

We emphasise:

  • night-time training so puppy never develops distress at separation (prevents sleepless nights too!)
  • crate training for toilet training
  • crate training for settle training
  • crate training for self-control training
  • crate training chew-toy training
  • crate training for night-time training
  • …see where we are going with this…?

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6. Passive Training

This is lazy training, and really effective too! Puppy isn’t doing the wrong things all the time so catch him doing the right behaviour and reward that with food rewards, toys, play, attention or access to things he wants.

We emphasise:

  • rewarding puppy any time you notice he’s quiet, he has four paws on the floor, he’s keeping the leash loose and he’s showing calm focus
  • rewarding polite behaviour

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  • rewarding puppy when he’s doing nothing

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  • using lots of different types of rewards

Teach your puppy how to be a good human trainer like here, here and here.

7. Parking your Puppy

More lazy dog training, while puppy learns to chill out and be calm.

We emphasise:

  • use a specific mat or bed so puppy learns that means it’s settle time
  • lapping and chewing on stuffed and lined Kongs help puppies relax

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  • practicing parking and settling in lots of places, with your puppy’s calm-mat, will help puppy become a great companion who you can bring anywhere

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8. Resource Guarding Prevention

It’s normal, natural, necessary dog behaviour (humans do it too!) so let’s set up our puppies so that they never feel the need to make people go away from them, when they have stuff.

We emphasise:

  • making sure puppies have their own place where they can eat, chew, play and hangout undisturbed
  • puppies learn that when they have stuff and people come near, awesome things happen

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9. Handling

Puppies and dogs will be handled, sometimes in invasive ways, throughout their lives. Remember, anything we want in our dog in two years time, we need to start working on right now!

We emphasise:

  • gentle handling of puppy everyday

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  • calming, massage helps to settle puppy
  • pairing handling and manipulation with yummy treats helps puppy to become comfortable with this in lots of situations

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  • practicing at the vets and groomers too, before puppy needs it
  • giving puppies choice in how much and how far is enough

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10. Toilet training

Toilet training requires time, patience, supervision and management.

We emphasise:

  • regular toilet breaks – every 1-2 hours during the day
  • more regular breaks after eating, drinking, napping, or any sort of excitement
  • clean up accidents with biological washing powder (with enzyme action)
  • supervise free puppies – if they have any accident it’s on you I’m afraid
  • don’t scold puppy – step up supervision!
  • free time is for empty puppies only – so crate puppy, supervise closely and only allow out and about after toileting
  • bring puppy to a toileting area and be boring – this is a business area, not for fun
  • calmly praise puppy while he goes, and reward with 3-5 high value food rewards once he’s done
  • then have a little game or fun interaction with puppy so that he doesn’t learn he is just ignored after appropriate toileting
  • have patience – we give children years for toilet training and most puppies will need months of structured toilet training before they are reliable

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11. Obedience behaviours

The most important thing to understand here is that obedience behaviours can be taught at any time, but all the 1-10 stuff above MUST start NOW.

So, although we might introduce some obedience stuff, it’s not the main emphasis of your puppy’s early education at all.

Teach puppy to play tug, with rules, so that you are also teaching him some self-control and to give up items, even when excited:

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Teach puppy to leave forbidden items by teaching him that “leave it” means to come away from that thing and reorient to his person:

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Teach puppy that only polite, calm behaviour gets him what he wants:

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12. Troubleshooting

We spend some time answering your questions and  developing a program that works best for your puppy, you and your family.

  • diet
  • parasite control
  • vet and groomer visits
  • grooming
  • neutering
  • training classes
  • great puppy resources
  • and all the other questions new puppy owners will have too…

And this is just the beginning of your’s and your puppy’s education…

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Do you know someone with a new puppy or soon to get a new puppy, or even someone thinking about maybe considering a new puppy?

Let’s get puppy-ownership off to the best start with a puppy session!

Weekly Woof from the Web

Another busy week with lots of goodies from around the web…

Always worth a share, far and wide: Doggone Safe educational images

And start prepping for dogs and babies before baby comes home, with these great tips!

Eric Brad looks at how to Stay Interesting to your Dog and More Ways to Stay Interesting to your Dog

Lovely clear resource on rabbit behaviour (yes, rabbits – we’re not just dogs, dogs, dogs) from the RSPCA.

Teach your dog better self-control by gradually increasing the challenge to build his patience as shown in this lovely clip.

Science + dogs matters, here’s why!

Life is short, go play with your dog! Here’s 4 tips for engaging your new rescue dog in play, and not just for new dogs or rescue dogs!

The canine face of patience and tolerance:

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This is a pretty good list: 6 books every dog owner should read

More awesome dogs, these ones protecting elephants!

Shed a tear for Dayko, a search and rescue dog, who has died after rescuing people after an earthquake in Equador – rest easy Dayko

Two minutes of lovlieness: The Dog & The Butcher

Weekly Woof from the Web

This is the last week during which you can get you and your dog compliant with Ireland’s new microchipping laws; more here.

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I’m afraid there’s no chocolate for you two beggars!

Biting is normal, natural, necessary dog behaviour but when it happens (and it is a when and not an if) it is very distressing at many levels. Understanding biting and related dog behaviour is a pretty good step toward preventing it: Why Dogs Bite, Part I and Part II.

A common cause of bites in pets, is pain and they are pretty good at hiding their pain and discomfort. Download a straight forward poster here and here.

Pain may mean a trip to the vet’s and unsurprisingly many dogs find this upsetting and distressing. Not only that many pet owners appear unable to assess their pets’ distress, given that many of the signs can be pretty subtle and easily misinterpreted: Canine Stress in the Vet’s Waiting Room.
This piece gives an in-depth run down of stress and things that can be done to help reduce your dog’s distress: Fixing their bones, but breaking their brains.
More and more veterinary practices are becoming aware of ways to reduce dogs’ distress before, during and after procedures; here are five tips for handling dogs and cats in a caring manner – it’s a poster that you can download and share 😉
We can work together to improve your dog’s comfort, not only with the vet team working to reduce stress, but at home preparing our dogs for handling with two simple of ways of helping your dog enjoy this type of contact in this clip.

With Easter only a few days away and the temptation of chocolate too much for some dogs, let’s avoid that vet visit by being aware and careful of poisons that you dog might ingest:

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Here’s a list of the Top 10 Toxins of 2015 and poisons to protect your dog from.  With Spring springing, it’s a good idea to take note of the Top 10 Plants Poisonous to Pets too.

Remember, no Easter Eggs for pets; the Chocolate Chart!

Instead, get your dog a fun and challenging puzzle toy – the joy will last much longer than your Easter Egg: Brain Teasing Toys for Dogs Who are too Smart for their Own Good!

Even we though we might not have too much self control around all that chocolate, our dogs can: Clicker Training Doggie Zen exercises!
Doggie Zen exercises are some of our favourites, and even though this is an older resource it never really gets tired!

Congratulations to Purin the Beagle for her new Guinness World Record: fastest 10m on a ball by a dog!

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Again, we are appealing to people to give chocolate bunnies rather than real ones. But if you are thinking about getting a rabbit pet, watch this clip before getting one…

Or maybe just watch this somewhat terrifying clip…

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The long weekend is beckoning…enjoy this clip of an agility round that doesn’t go quite as planned…

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Just be

What ever happened to doing nothing?

I can’t remember what I used to do when there was any sort of lull in the action before I had a smartphone.
Anything other than constant stimulation and I am reaching for my iPhone…

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The movie Bolt struck a cord when I saw it a few years ago.

It’s about a canine star of a TV show, Bolt, who plays a dog with super-powers saving his person Penny from the Green Eyed Man, week in, week out.
Except, that nobody told Bolt it was just a work of fiction and that he isn’t really a super-dog.

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When the cameras stop rolling Bolt is kept in a permanent state of readiness, to fend off attacks by his enemies.

What about pet dogs? 

We certainly invest lots in teaching them to do lots of stuff, to increase their responsiveness, to build their love of learning and interaction.
And we put lots of energy into keeping them active, getting them moving, in the hope that a tired dog is a good dog (but is it?).

When do they get to just be?

‘Just being’ doesn’t necessarily come easily

Pretty much every type of dog was developed for some sort of job and in modern pet-dom most dogs are unemployed.

Our efforts in guiding dogs from wild to pet, whether intentional or not, selected for characteristics such as wariness, reactivity, inquisitiveness, attachment and activity.

Our pets’ lives, just like our’s, continue to become more and more sedentary with us substituting real-life pursuits for those that are easier to participate from a seated position – even sport is a less serious outlet for pretty serious behaviour.

Without outlets for our behaviour, it is channelled somewhere else – I have a Smartphone but what do our dogs have?

Would we know a dog ‘just being’ if we saw one?

It can be tricky to spot a calm, chilled out dog.

With great access to knowledge you might think we have a better handle on canine signalling, but unfortunately our awareness (or lack thereof) is affected by popular media’s interpretation of “calmness”.

Shutdown is not the same as calmness

A dog who is overwhelmed by a situation and can’t use behaviour to escape something they find unpleasant, will often show signs of ‘shutting down’.

This happens because the dog is unable to escape and his requests for relief have gone unheard/unanswered. This is typified by a very still dog – the absence of behaviour is not calmness.

Shut down dogs interact minimally with their environment, their body may be still and tense, if they are moving their posture may be low slung, they will often be frozen, you may see them yawn, lick their lips, and squint and blink (outside of normal contexts for these behaviours).

Eileen Anderson’s clip gives you a run down of some examples, mistaken for calmness:

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Calmness myths and mistakes:

  • The absence of behaviour is not calmness (nor ideal)
  • Stillness because there’s no way out, ain’t calmness
  • Stillness through restraint ain’t calmness
  • Lying down through uncomfortable handling or contact ain’t calmness
  • Compliance because they can’t escape ain’t calmness
  • Compliance due to the application of training equipment or techniques (that the individual finds aversive) ain’t calmness
  • “Settling” due to exhaustion, ain’t calmness (is a tired dog, a good dog?)
  • Less behaviour is not necessarily better than more behaviour
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If you want less behaviour, maybe the one in the middle ain’t for you…

What does a ‘just being’ dog look like?

A chilled dog is loose, breathing deeply, he may still be monitoring the environment but not really on his tip-toes, he may still be responsive but not in an overly enthusiastic way – but the biggest difference?

The chilled out, calm, ‘just being’ dog is choosing to chill, be calm and be.

Back to Eileen Anderson for her ying to the yang clip:

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Teaching a dog to just be

Start by helping your dog to learn that settling, and being calm is excellent!
Check out Week 2 training games from our Train Your Dog Month here.

From ‘excited-by-everything’ to just-be

This dog needs help coming down from the highs, and to better control his swings from up to down.

  • play games with rules:

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  • make play training and training play

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  • play jazz up/settle down

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From ‘let’s go go go’ to just-be

This dog needs help learning that they don’t need to be ‘on’ all the time – good things happen when you’re doing nothing too.

Both in training sessions, and in life, mark and reward doing nothing – even if it’s only a split second – the more you reinforce nothing, the less frantic behaviour you will see.

  • make sure to put behaviours on stimulus control – this means that the dog learns to offer behaviours when you cue them only, rather than as soon as he thinks there might be a reward or he thinks it might be time to work

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  • teach calm-focus exercises rather than laser-focus-on-the-task activities

Week 4 of our Train Your Dog Month program

  • make doing-nothing your new job

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  • take a break/breath

https://aniedireland.wordpress.com/2016/01/16/training-game-2-5/

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Hanging out

When we might only have limited time with a dog, whether that be because we are visiting, working long hours or the dog is in a rescue/kennel environment, of course we want to make the most of our time together.

But, a dog who hasn’t been getting too much human attention will be pretty wound up and anticipatory waiting for it. Sometimes, it’s better just to hang out with them – this gives them the opportunity to calm down, bond and be.

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Just be…a dog

Don’t forget, that before the dog can just be, he must have an outlet to just be a dog too.

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Training Game 4.5

This is our last challenge…make it a good one!

Adding Distractions

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To teach your dog best, keep him successful as possible. That means that if your dog can’t find your face in a particular situation, it’s just too distracting for him.

Distractions will affect your training efforts distractionsin three ways:

  • distance
  • duration
  • intensity

If your dog has trouble focusing it may be because:

  • you are too close to a distraction
  • you may be around the distraction for too long
  • the distraction may be too exciting, interesting, active, scary or conspicuous

For example, your dog may be distracted by another dog when:

  • you are too close to the other dog
  • your dog can watch the other dog for too long
  • the other dog is big, is bouncy, is barking, is making direct eye contact with your dog or maybe even approaching your dog

Keeping your dog successful means that you monitor his ability to focus and be comfortable around distractions.

Asking your dog to focus with distractions

Distance:

Start with distance from potentially distracting situations

How close can you be to a distraction, that your dog can find your face?

A good indication is that if your dog can do the Find my Face exercise, take their reward and then offer another focus, within a 5-count

If there is more of a delay or your dog has difficulty playing the
game at all, you’re too close.

Take a few steps away, and try again.

When your dog can offer 5 repetitions, with a 5-count or less between each one, take a couple of steps closer and build again.

When working on distance:distance

  • work for about 30 seconds to 1 minute
  • practice using distractions that are quiet, still, not facing your dog, not interacting with your dog in any way and are not too conspicuous
Duration:

When your dog is able to play focus games pretty close to distractions, start to build the length of each session.

Build by no more than 30 seconds at a time.

When working on duration:duration

  • practice at your starting working distance – decrease distance again gradually
  • practice using distractions that are quiet, still, not facing your dog, not interacting with your dog in any way and are not too conspicuous
Intensity

Now your dog is able to focus closer to distractions for a little longer – it’s time to increase the intensity of that distraction.

  • play Find my Face around more active distractions

When working on intensity:intensity

  • practice at your starting working distance – increase distance again gradually
  • work for about 30 seconds to 1 minute

 

Combinations

As your dog improves and is able to Find your Face in and around distractions start to decrease distance while at the same time increasing duration or build intensity while decreasing distance.

This will best help you to have your dog responsive and with you in all sorts of situations.

 

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Setting your dog (and you) up for success:

  • Adjust the distance, duration and intensity of exposure to distractions when working on focus exercises according to your dog’s abilities.
  • Use rewards that can compete with the level of distraction you are working on.
  • Keep the lead loose.
  • If your dog vocalises, lunges, jumps up on you and is too easily distracted – give your dog a break.
  • If the situation is too much for your dog, get him outta there!
  • If you haven’t trained for it, you can’t expect it!

 

Training Game 4.4

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Environmental cues for focus

Teaching your dog that him seeing certain stimuli (might be other dogs, people, distractions or specific situations) mean to focus on you is a real training shortcut – that means that as soon as your dog sees one of these things he immediately looks at you, gets into focus mode, and all you need to do is to reward him!

Today’s Games

Time Allowance:
Practice for 1-2 minute sessions and then take a break. Have a few  sessions today and tomorrow.

Family Participation:
Kids are often great dog trainers. Teach each child how to play this game safely – have your child sit in a chair to practice.

If your dog is mouthy,  jumpy or likely to get over-excited it might be best for you to get the behaviours established and then bring in the kids to help with practice.
Always supervise child-dog interactions and make sure children learn to leave the dog alone when eating his rewards.

Top Tip for Today’s Training Game:
Start working on these games in really low distraction situations. What really gets your dog distracted or excited?
Might be other dogs, passing people, squirrels or interesting smells.
Well, don’t start working around those until you can ace these games in other situations first.

You will need:

  • Training Mix
  • stuff for walkies i.e. leash, collar and so on

Beginner Level Games

Passive Focus

Start this exercise by practicing some Find My Face! in a low distraction situation – this might be on a quieter street area, in a quiet spot out on your walk or in the garden.

Allow your dog to pick out things in the environment and just let them observe…

Wait for your dog to choose to find your face; YES! and reward. Repeat.

Practice this game of passive focus in mildly distracting situations.

Check out Bailey practicing some passive focus in a mildly distracting carpark, with people, vehicles, noises and sniffing to distract her:

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Note that we don’t ask her to check back in, instead just wait – lazy dog training!

Advanced Level Games

Door manners – focus at doors

Getting to, through and out doors is generally met with lots of excitement and enthusiasm in dogs – it’s just so rewarding on the other side!

Teaching your dog to be calm, patient and focused on you at doorways will not only make life easier but potentially safer too.

Without even asking him, we can teach your dog to automatically find your face inside, through and outside each door!

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Another tough plan done!

Training Game 4.3

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Go be a dog!

We can’t expect our dog to be focused all the time – it’s important that we also make sure our dog gets to be a dog and have fun too!

Rather than just ending a training session or a focus exercise and ignoring your dog, give them something else to do and encourage them to enjoy off-time too.

Today’s Games

Time Allowance:
Practice for 2-4 minute sessions and then take a break. Have a few sessions today.

Try fitting  each short session into your routine; for example, while you wait for the kettle to boil, during the ad break of your TV show or while you wait for the computer to start up.

Family Participation:
Kids are often great dog trainers. Teach each child how to play this game safely.

If your dog is mouthy,  jumpy or likely to get over-excited it might be best for you to get the behaviours established and then bring in the kids to help with practice.
Always supervise child-dog interactions and make sure children learn to leave the dog alone when eating his rewards.

Top Tip for Today’s Training Game:
Establish this exercise with your dog searching for food and then begin to transfer it to sniffing doggie areas.
This way you will always be able to give your dog some time-off to sniff, no matter where you are.

You will need:

  • Training Mix
  • toys or other high value rewards
  • leash, collar, things for walkies

Go Sniff!

Teach your dog to search and sniff on cue:

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It’s a great idea to work on this exercise because:
  • dogs gotta sniff
  • dog love to sniff
  • sniffing provides great exercise
  • having sniffing on cue allows your dog to get his sniffing-jollies when it best suits
  • you can divert your dog’s attention before he gets distracted or upset
  • you can reward your dog with the opportunity to sniff
  • you can provide your dog with a bit of relief after excitement
  • and you can let your dog go be a dog!

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Wohoo!

That wasn’t a tough one at all, but we’re back with more challenges tomorrow!

Training Game 4.2

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LOOK!

By now your dog loves finding your face and that’s going to be worked on as a default behaviour.

But, we’re also going to add a cue-word so that you can ask your dog for eye contact when needed.

Today’s Games

Time Allowance:
Practice for 1-2 minute sessions and then take a break. Have a few  sessions today.

Try fitting  each short session into your routine; for example, while you wait for the kettle to boil, during the ad break of your TV show or while you wait for the computer to start up.

Family Participation:
Kids are often great dog trainers. Teach each child how to play this game safely – have your child sit in a chair to practice.

If your dog is mouthy,  jumpy or likely to get over-excited it might be best for you to get the behaviours established and then bring in the kids to help with practice.
Always supervise child-dog interactions and make sure children learn to leave the dog alone when eating his rewards.

Top Tip for Today’s Training Game:
Your LOOK! cue is going to be used to call your dog’s attention away from different distractions, some that are very rewarding to your dog.
This means we need to take care of this cue and only use it we are certain that the dog will be able to LOOK!.

To achieve that we need to associate really really yummy treats with our LOOK! cue.

You will need:

  • Training Mix
  • toys or other high value rewards

Beginner Level Games:

Introducing the LOOK! cue:

  • play Find my Face a couple of times
  • drop at treat at your toe
  • when he eats the treat, and just before he lifts his head, say LOOK! in an upbeat tone
  • say YES! when he finds your face and drop another treat to repeat

Practice in short sessions of 5-10 repetitions.

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Surprise your dog

After some practice with the LOOK! cue, try surprising your dog.

Wait for him to be just mildly distracted, staring into space or just sniffing in the garden.

Have a yummy treat ready, ask him to LOOK! and reward.

Repeat a couple of times to really help your dog get that this cue may happen at any time and always results in yummy things.

Advanced Level Games:

LOOK! & distractions

This game will help to teach your dog that to gain access to distractions he must first make eye contact:

  • show your dog a treat or a toy and hold it out to your side
  • when he looks at the distraction/reward, say LOOK!
  • wait for him to make eye contact
  • say YES!
  • reward with the treat or the throw of the toy

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LOOK! away from distractions

For this exercise, you need really really high value rewards that can compete against a lower level distraction.

More on understanding rewards & distractions.

Present a controlled distraction and as soon as your dog looks at it say LOOK!.

When he gives eye contact, say YES! and reward.

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Dog can’t LOOK?
  • give your dog a little more distance from the distraction
  • use a less enticing distraction
  • reward with higher value rewards

Wohoo!

Another challenging training plan done – yay!

TYDM 2016 Week 4

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Week 4 – Fine-tune Focus

Calm, happy, focus is so often our training-dream; a dog who will respond even when there are distractions and who enjoys working in partnership with his person, in all sorts of situations.

We can achieve calm, happy focus in distracting situations with careful training.

By teaching your dog to focus in lower distraction situations we can continue to build on this success by carefully introducing slightly greater distraction levels in increments.

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Disclaimer:  this video was made for demonstration purposes only; Decker or any dog did not suffer any distress during or after this work – please don’t worry!
In response to trainers who show similar scenes with their dogs wearing training collars, shock collars or training equipment, this is a dog who has been worked and trained with rewards-based training – there are no training tools or treats or toys used here at all showing that dogs trained this way can work in very distracting situations, without ‘cookies’ and through choice.

What do I need for week 4?

  • Training Mix, toys or other reward
  • your dog’s collar and leash
  • Kong toys or similar for pacifying

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Week 4 Training Games

  • Find my Face
  • LOOK!
  • Go be a dog!
  • Environmental cues for focus
  • Adding and building distractions

What’s my dog learning?

  • focusing on my person is very rewarding
  • I learn that to access distractions, I can check in with my person first
  • I can check in with my person even though I would really like to sniff, run around and explore and I can wait to access the things I want.
  • My self-control is developing – I can’t have all the things I want, when I want them.
  • Passing in or out of a door is a cue to check in with my person and wait patiently.
  • Learning to stop and check in with my person will keep me safer.

Of course calm, happy focus doesn’t need to be a training dream – it can be a training reality.

You can download a more printer friendly, but abbreviated version of this week’s exercises here.

Week 3 Bonus Challenge

So Week 3 wasn’t tough enough? Let’s add some zen to your recalls!

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Today’s Games

Zen recalls teach your dog to choose you over all the other distractions in the environment – and if he does choose you he is rewarded with access to those very distractions.

Remember, distractions are just rewards that your dog wants but you would prefer he didn’t!

Time Allowance:
Practice for 1-2 minute sessions and then take a break. Have a few  sessions today.

Really do keep sessions short on these exercises! The self-control bank account depletes fast and your dog will need some time to recuperate so make sure to give them a good break too.

Family Participation:
This exercise is for adults only!

Once your dog can ace this week’s zen exercises, you can begin to introduce children so that you dog learns some zen with them too.

Always supervise child-dog interactions and make sure children learn to leave the dog alone when eating his rewards.

Top Tip for Today’s Training Games:
Make sure to set up the exercise so that your dog is successful.

Remember, if your dog gets stuck, think of ways that you can make it easier for him to succeed and then build again more gradually.

Zen Recalls

Beginner Level Challenge

Use your dog’s favourite toy or rewards in a little bowl.

Practice this game in a quiet place, so indoors or in the garden at quiet times.

It’s handy to have an assistant for this game, to place our distractions, but not essential.

Get set up with your dog on lead. Have the distraction placed at the furthest end of the space in which you work.

Approach the distraction and as soon as your dog notices it, stop and call your dog.

Move backwards, but only use the lead very gently if at all, encouraging your dog to come toward you and move away from the distraction.

As soon as your dog gets to you, say YES! and excitedly bring him over to claim his distraction.

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If your dog has trouble with this, it’s important to make it easier so that we don’t do any damage to his current recall behaviour.

Try this if you dog gets stuck:

  • use a lower value distraction
  • don’t get as close to the distraction before calling
  • use a lower value reward as distraction and a higher value reward to give when your dog recalls:

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Advanced Level Challenges

As your dog progresses, start to add some of these to your training:

  • ask your dog to recall progressively further from the distraction
  • remove your dog’s lead or use a long line instead, so that you can restrain him only in an emergency
  • toss the distraction and ask the dog to recall to you

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  • toss the distraction and ask the dog to carry out obedience behaviours before getting access to the distraction

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Go for it!