Great Dog Training

March 4, 2009

I have been living under a rock for the past couple months just getting classes and seminars scheduled, teaching every night and during the day and haven’t really had much to post about.

I just returned from NB for the third session of a five part mentor group series.  I have three different level groups that I teach there and all showed huge signs of improvement.  I walk away from most seminars I teach knowing so much more and being very motivated to go home and train.  Seeing students who didn’t have much knowledge of positive dog training or students who new little about handling improve so dramatically over a short period of time is really so inspiring.  The thing I enjoy most is seeing dogs enjoy working and thinking and gaining confidence and speed.  Agility is definitely a huge passion of mine but much more important is that there are fewer and fewer dogs who are trained and treated like crap, anyways I am going on a tangent here. 

With the masters group in New Brunswick we ended the weekend with some courses and the first course we ran was not overly complicated and almost every dog ran clean.  So I told them we were going to run the same course once more but this time people were to put in as much effort as they expected from the dogs, everyone was lined up and tugging waiting to go into “the ring” they left their dog on the line and ran out to position and drove ever line and ran hard as if it were the steeplechase finals.  Well I almost killed myself laughing because half the dogs broke the start line, didn’t hold contacts, mislead the lead out, knocked way more bars and took way more off courses.  Which dogs do you think they will have in a trial?

When you go out to your clubs practice night it is usually extremely hard for me to watch.  People get lazy and just “practice” rather than training something specific and ensure that in that hour session there is huge improvment in both dog and handler.  This blog was inpired from the video below:

In this training session Greg gives the dog absolutely no time to be distracted or disinterested.  The transitions from reward to work and back to reward are flawless.  Even though this is not a young dog it gets 6 rewards in one sequence.  I think it every dog was trained this well not only would they show much more improvement in a short amount of time but there would be no unmotivated dogs.

So next time you go to class or practice be aware of how much time your dog has to lose that 110% effort and focus that we all aim for.  Think about the dogs rate of reinforcement, are you more worried about running the sequence or are you looking for specific things that you would like to see more often.

For the last month I have focused on keeping sessions short and having a plan of something I would like to improve within that one session.  I have tried to run every sequence as if it were the world championships so my dogs learn how to deal with that level of arousal and still respond to all cues and keep the bars up.  When my dog makes a conscious effort to turn tight, increase speed, respond to a cue such as deceleration or a shoulder turn I immediately reward.  Reinforcement builds behavior and the more you reinforce a certain behavior the more it will occur.   Which dog will be faster and which dog will learn more, one that receives a reward every 20 obstacles or every 5 obstacles?

Advertisements