This month’s column is my favorite kind. We have many NADOI members contributing their favorite training hints and tips. Hopefully, you will find something here that you didn’t know that will help you in your training and instructing.
Helen Marie Capps #1033 had this to say about teaching the “stand for exam.” “A lot of dogs collapse on the stand, and if you put a lead under their belly they are still upset with something or someone touching them. I have had a lot of luck finding just the right sized box to slide under the dog as he stands. The box is not tall enough to touch him, but tall enough to make him not want to sit on the stand.”
This one from Evelyn Gregory #618 sounds really good for those beginners. “When I teach downs in a pet class, I always ask the owners to bring a mat or rug (whatever the dog sleeps on at home) and I teach the down on their own mat. It is much easier than getting the dog to lie down on a cold floor or prickly grass, and is easily translated to go to your bed at home. It seems to give most dogs a sense of familiarity and comfort in the sometimes stressful class environment, and is especially good for little dogs.”
Speaking of mats and rugs, member Irene Mullan #968 tells this one about her student with a Chinese Crested that hated going down on mats or grass. “We started teaching him the fold-back down on a mat larger than the dog, with food between the paws and gentle pressure on the shoulders. As he became proficient on the down, I told his handler to trim a few inches off the mat. Over a period of2-3 months, there was virtually no mat left, and the dog was dropping! This dog is now working in Open, and has had no problem with downs, even on grass.” Irene also mentions that she has used the mat technique when teaching Utility go-outs. She starts with a big but inexpensive bathmat which doesn’t slip and teaches the dog to run and sit on the mat. Over time the mat gets cut down smaller and smaller until she’s left with little 2-inch squares which areplaced down as the target.
Vivian Bregman #860 and Sue Cone #329 both like this one for dealing with creeping on the drop on recall. “It helps if your dog knows the come-and-get-it game and is food oriented. Call the dog, drop the dog, give your release “good boy” command and toss a piece of visible food behind the dog that he is allowed to scramble back and get. Call him to you again from wherever he got the food, drop him again, and toss food again. This will help prevent the dog from traveling on the drop as the reinforcement is always behind him.” Sue adds that this can cause the dog to anticipate the drop, which you can easily train through by calling the dog and letting him realize he gets no cookie for dropping with-out being told to. Vivian also mentioned that she teaches the signals by tossing food behind the dog. She says this will stop the “creeps!”
Several members suggested tips to help deal with the dog jumping up on people. Jeanne Hampl #962 said, “In my pet obedience classes I am starting to teach dogs to sit with the cue being the handler’s arms raised above their head. Since many people, especially children, throw their arms up when they see a dog, and the dog then jumps on them, I want the raised arms to become the cue to sit.”
Linda Copti #762 says, “We teach the students to cross their arms until the dog sits, then reward. This not only gives the dog a clear cue, but it is easy to tell visitors to cross their arms and then pet. Well-meaning friends can’t undo the training by petting the dog while he’s jumping up on them. We tell our students never to let on to their friends how they are modifying their undesirable behavior!” George Phillip Quinlan #749 also mentions that he does something very similar for jumpers and it works!
On the subject of freestyle, Judy Endo #905 told me, “As part of his training, I taught Toby the Cairn to back up (actually he does it naturally). Once he became comfort-able with this behavior, he began to offer it often because he could watch me (when feeding, going outside, etc).Toby concluded, however, that it was impossible to backup without barking. He actually barks in perfect sync with the backing up steps! This translates into a great demo for kids. I tell them that Toby will now do an imitation of their school bus when it beeps a warning as it backs up…the kids love it.”
And last but not least, Norma Rust #459 reminded me that “Rottweilers don’t work for free. They do work well for food, however!” You mean it’s maybe a good thing not to force a rottie if you don’t have to?
Thanks to all the NADOI members who passed along these great tips. I hope they help your training to be more effective and lots more fun.