by Lynn Mayes
Ever wondered why your dog does things? You probably inadvertently teach them.
Take jumping up. Dogs jumps, you fuss; or even worse in my case, training my youngster Delco (AKA “The Delinquent”, posh name Flatmeer Fluiter), when rewarding for work done I open his jackpot (tidbit box) and he leaps up at me because:
A: it’s FOOD
B: he’s a KEESHOND (greedy!?)
So.. I feed him because I want to reward him for what he’s been doing. He gets worse at the leaping, giving me huge bruises and turning the air blue! He gets worse because he’s also being rewarded for jumping up. After one extra bad lunge and a massive blue bruise from thigh to ankle I decided to do something (yes, it took long enough I know but, as his work-enthusiasm was practically non existent, I thought I had to reward to keep what little interest he had ) It was so easily solved, I could kick myself!!! After a training “stays” (keep still, don’t move ) discussion with a good friend, I decided to use this method on the leaping delinquent.
A quick version of the stay training is: Start with puppy in front of you, tidbit pot on floor; reward for sitting, any movement lid goes on, no reward. Has the pup sat again? Reward: Moved? Lid on; gradually build up distance. Sounds simple, believe me it is. Train the down the same way.
So back to Delco:
He jumped up; lid went on (I use vitalite tubs, easy to remove and replace lids)
Asked him to sit; he sat, took lid off, he jumped, lid on.
Sit; lid off, he stays sat, he gets a titbit
(by the way, I ask him to sit as he knows the command).
He sits most times now when he’s going to get his reward, he does have lapses, when he gets excited, but as soon as the lid goes back on he sits without command and waits. I call that a win?.
But there’s more! Training, practicing, whatever you wish to call it, DON’T keep doing the same thing over and over for ages! For a start it’s boring, but, hey, we all fall into this trap, and sometimes it also gives dogs wrong ideas!
Teaching heelwork: I start with close; that’s dog sat on my left, dogs shoulder level with my leg, oh and sit straight too (oo lots of things to nit pick with in the obedience game). I get dogs to follow titbit until they are in the right place then reward. Then I follow on with actually walking with them, keeping them in this position, building it up a few steps at a time.
Only Delco’s idea of close was – hmm let’s see…. Sitting next to me, with a “well, it’s what you’ve been asking for FOREVER” face! MY FAULT !!!! for just doing what is called static work ( on spot stuff, turns etc., I do them on the spot before on the move). And he’s got a “wayward bum” has the lad, ie: he likes it stuck out to the side, hence the close malarkey FOREVER!! Eventually got it sorted with a bit of help! Think because he was given a posh operatic name when born ( thanks you know who!!!) he had ideas above his station ( thanks again ). Now he’s got his common-or-garden name (oh, and few other unmentionable in polite company ones too – oh, he’s named after the handsome chap in CSI Miami by the way… the unmentionables are, well… erm.. a term of endearment VBG ) he realizes he’s working class and has grown up a bit – matured then – and is producing some very nice work and getting places. His first rosette was a 3rd… and a shock to the system because he’s been so naughty!!! Followed by a 2nd the week after.
Don’t forget obedience classes have large numbers of entries; they split the class at 60! So we compete with usually at least 50 dogs, so I am very proud of the “what breed please” keeshonds I work.