Archive for July 2009
Watch how we teach two dogs to heel simultaneously!
You can see that only the dog at the heel position gets reinforced. You can also see how they figure out what to do when one crowds the other.
Dog gets clicked and treated for finding heel. Because we are working with two dogs, precise timing with the reinforcements is as important as the timing of the click.
Do this with your dog by walking or even jogging around your yard using fluid movement, when your dog catches up to your left side, CLICK and give him a treat, then toss a treat away. This reinforces the dog for finding heel and gets him to move away from you so that he can do it again! It’s fun, easy and lends quick results.
Thank you to my friend Joyce O’Connell for her help with Choosing to Heel!
Dog training should not be a reality TV show. Seeing results for behavior problems, in an hour, is misleading. Even mild behavior issues usually cannot be resolved in one hour. How does one create a solid foundation for behavior in one hour?
Our dogs are important to us, they are members of our family and we LOVE them. There is also cost associated with raising a dog including food, vet bills, supplements, meds and TRAINING. Training should be considered as important as the vet. Most dogs are sheltered or worse because of behavior issues that proper training could have avoided, or that proper training can overcome. Training is a life saving investment for your dog and helps enhance that human-dog relationship and bond.
Dog training on TV does not teach how to break behavior down into small steps. Dogs are a different species with different customs and a different language. We need to consider that training our dog is synonymous with teaching them a new language as well as learning a new language ourselves. Could you learn to speak and understand martian fluently in an hour?
Whether you watch CM with his collar pops, poking, trapping, flooding et al or you watch VS with her positive approach to problem solving, or you watch GDU with his combination of collar pops and food you are not getting the full benefit of HOW DOGS LEARN. You are not getting the benefit of how to apply training techniques to your special dog, special breed and special goals.
I recommend to my clients, who watch dog training on TV to watch it on mute. Observe the dog in the lesson. What is the dog thinking? Is the dog enjoying the lesson? Is the human enjoying the lesson? Observe the dog’s body postures, often the dog’s signals are so obvious that you do not need to be a professional trainer to see if the dog is enjoying, understanding, and wanting to partake in the lesson at hand. Is he avoiding or smiling? Is he leaning in toward the handler or away from the handler. Is he interested in the handler, is he trying to bite the handler. Observe the dog in the lesson and try and determine what that dog is thinking about the lesson. Remember that dogs need information and need to be taught what TO do in a situation. Is the trainer teaching the dog what TO do rather than bringing focus to what not to do?
As you watch dog training reality shows, remember that they are out there for the entertainment factor, the wow factor and TV station ratings and NOT for valuable and professional, or even useful at times advice.
Always seek advice from a professional and certified trainer who focuses on positive solutions and on training that builds relationships and who stays current with scientific research and data. Your dog will thank you!!
Asking our dogs to automatically befriend other dogs who are strangers to them is often asking for trouble if not handled properly. Consider, do you want to run up to and greet every human you see? Some outgoing and gregarious humans just may but some more reserved humans just may not. Personally, when I arrive at a seminar for example, there are lots of people who I do not know yet, I do not get excited and waggle and start saying “it’s a human! look at ALL OF THESE humans!” I tend to keep to myself, set up my chair, have a quick yet reserved look around for someone I may know and I may offer a polite smile to another human who looks in my direction. By the end of the day or weekend, I will have made a new acquaintance or two.
If I were walking in a public park with my young neices and nephews, and came upon another family with young children, I may give my neices and nephews the opportunity to smile, approach if they wanted and even give a moment for a polite hello if they wanted but I would certainly not force them to interact with other persons whom they do not know.
Our dogs do not speak English and cannot say “hey mom, I’m not really in the mood for new friends today”. So it is our job to be sensitive to their needs.
Understanding how dogs greet, and how they do NOT greet is very important. Dogs generally do not greet other dogs whom they do not know with full front and face to face. They may merge together from a lateral perspective, one may follow the other and grab a sniff, they may take a quick glance at each other without staring.
Dogs greeting on-leash can be a particularly sensitive situation. Dogs can feel trapped and under our “control”. So thus in the dogs perspective, the human handler is marching full front and face to face with “YIKES a Strange Dog” and not giving their dog an opportunity to exhibit polite doggie language first. This often ends up in some growling, barking, some spit but it can also cause an altercation.
We humans are not much different, we have subtle signals that we offer as a sign of friendliness (or as signals that we are not friendly at that moment). We smile, we approach with some finesse. We do not stand in each other’s space (or bubble as I like to put it) while having a conversation, we keep our bodies at an angle and avoid full frontal positioning. Seldom would a human, upon seeing another human who was unknown to them, rush up quickly and encroach upon their space and get in their face and start a conversation. When we are not interested in being approached by a strange person who appears to be coming our way, we may turn our body to the side, look away, walk in the other direction, or act busy. A fast and threatening approach is not generally well received in the human race as much as it is not well received by our canines.
Our canines also will avoid, look away, look busy (ie: sniffing or scratching).
Take into consideration the dog you are walking, is it yours for example. Is it stressed. What were his experiences during the day? In dogs, stress is cumulative, much like us. We have a bad morning at work and the day seems to get worse. Dogs are not much different.
Sara Kalnajs offers two DVD’s with wonderful footage and examples of doggie body language and signaling.
Turrid Rugaas’ book “On Talking Terms with Dogs; Calming Signals” is also an inexpensive yet valuable resource.
Both items can be purchased from www.DogWise.com or www.Amazon.com