Category Archives: Train Your Dog Month 2016

But wait…

Training Your Dog is not just for Train Your Dog Month!

IMG_8625You have only just started so don’t stop now.

You are ALWAYS training your dog and he is is ALWAYS being trained so make sure that he is learning the right stuff!

Stay tuned to our blog for lots of top tips, clips and tricks each week so that your journey can continue.

Revise, or go back and work on exercises that you found particularly tricky or indeed, useful.

Take a well earned rest and well done for participating in Train Your Dog Month 2016!

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:

Link

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!

Link

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:

Link

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!

Link

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.

Link

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

Link

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.

Link

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!

Training Game 4.1

 

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Find my Face

Let’s start with teaching your dog to find your face, no matter where he is, as a default.

That means that you won’t need to ask him to give eye contact, that he will learn to choose to focus on you.

If your dog is looking for your face, think of all the behaviours, that you don’t like, he can’t do!?

Today’s Games

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

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:
Observe your dog really closely during this exercise. We are going to reward little steps toward full-on eye contact.
If your dog has trouble, go back a couple of steps and work at the last point your dog was successful.

You will need:

  • Training Mix

Beginner Level Games:

Teaching Find my Face:

  • drop a treat right at your toe
  • when your dog bows their head to eat it, watch them closely
  • say YES! as soon as you see their head raise
  • drop another treat right at your toe
  • say YES! as soon as your dog’s head raises toward you
  • drop another treat right at your toe
  • say YES! as soon as your dog’s head raises toward your face
  • drop another treat right at your toe
  • say YES! as soon as your dog’s face meets yours
  • drop another treat right at your toe
  • say YES! as soon as your dog makes eye contact
  • drop another treat right at your toe
  • repeat

Soon your dog will be zipping his face back up to your’s after eating the dropped treat.

Link

Make it a little more challenging:

Start adding some movement, so it’s a little harder for him to find your face:

  • drop a treat out to your side a little
  • say YES! when your dog finds your face

Switch sides back and forth and vary the position of the dropped treat within the arc in front of your feet.

Link

Advanced Level Games

Drop the treat behind you – can your dog find your face?

Try adding some movement:

  • drop a treat and while your dog eats it, take a step away from your dog
  • wait for your dog to find your face, say YES! and repeat
  • you can build the number of steps as your dog improves

Link

Find my Face, on leash

Try practicing on leash too and build in the number of steps you take – your dog can’t pull on leash if he’s finding your face 😉

Link

Well done!

That’s a great first day of our last week done!

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.

Link

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.