Our focus for this week’s terrific tip Tuesday is how to work on the relax command.
Have you ever gotten a new puppy and been so thankful that he has finally fallen asleep on the doggie bed that you don’t dare want to pet him or speak to him and wake him up???? What is he just supposed to know through telepathy that you think its good he is relaxing? Dogs do not know anything about living in the human world, it is our responsibility as their owner to teach them what we do and do not like them to do in our world.
The moment pup finally lays down and starts to relax we want to praise and pair a word with it. I usually use settle or relax as it isn’t generally used in normal conversation and it tends to be spoken in a calm manner which helps reinforce what we are training to teach anyway. Anytime you see the desired behaviour mark it and pair it with your cue or command. Now obviously we want to calmly praise the dog not pull a toy out and go crazy, but you can provide a few high value snack morsels in slow succession for a minute or so keeping the pup in the down position and calmly petting him. This reinforcement will help show him what it is that makes us his owner happy and what behaviors he should repeat in the future.
(let me tell you it was hard to find a picture of any of my dogs relaxing!! I must just take shots of the action times in their lives)
Typical weekend for the pack consists of some fun and play after some work. Sunday was no different and the girls all got what they needed! Raina worked some HR, making fast work of a problem that was set up 48 hours prior. The dog amazes me every time i see her work. I got lucky, really lucky that not only did i get an amazing genetic package with her (thanks to my team member Rita who bred Raina and her sister from a previous litter Abby) but i also have had years of dog related experiences in multiple facets to be able to raise her to be such an amazing working dog. You really cannot have a good canine search team without both the genetically appropriate dog and the knowledgeable trainer who knows how to work their dog to its fullest potential. Raina’s fullest potential was obvious when she was a certified airscent and HR dog at 12 months old, she has been ROCK SOLID ever since.
But i have digressed obviously, can’t help it 🙂
Emeline also ran a nice short, hot trail through a parking lot and around the school building with contamination everywhere. She did great, especially getting a direction of travel when casting her on the blacktop.
After we finished up the work we piled all 5 dogs in the truck and headed out to our swimming spots, first stopping off at the Delaware river section where its deep enough for the girls to really swim.
Next we moved on to a more shallow inlet section where max and frank really got to enjoy it, as neither swims in deep water.
We finished up the day with obedience. The key to a well behaved dog is regular fun obedience sessions which we do daily.
*Note- this will be the first of many posts in a series dedicated to the consistency that must be displayed while performing obedience training with our dogs.
I have a lot of clients who just want to obedience train their dogs. Most just want a friend or a well behaved pet and some want to move on to trials and competitions. Whatever the eventual goal is a few factors should always remain the same.
~Always train on the dogs agenda, not ours.
Just because WE want him to learn how to lay down in the next ten minutes with the cherrios we have in our hand doesn’t mean HE is capable of learning that fast, and even likes the way cherrios taste!!!!!! My point is, would you be able to write a 10 page purposal on a new bussiness adventure in 15 minutes for the left over pocket change i have totaling 58 cents? NO and nor would you want to!!! The first key in a successful training relationship is to work on his agenda. This is not “giving him power” or making him “a dominant dog” that is a bunch of bull and is blown way out of context (sorry, off my soapbox now)
As a responsible dog owner, our dogs partner and trainer we have to take into consideration him as
A. An animal
B. A sub species of animal AKA Canis Familiaris
C. A breed of sub species example being Pug, or German Shepherd
Only once we fully grasp this concept can we adequately acknowledge the training needs of our friend. We have to work with what we have, and each dog is different. This is one of the reasons we do not have an one method for our training, its impossible to if you want to have a good positive working relationship with your canine. It’s easy to just be a bully and say “It’s my way or the highway” like many trainers do but why, this is your partner, your friend, and you brought him into your world and choose this job for him. The least you can do is do it on his agenda!
We train with our dogs so that we can build a better relationship with them, i particularly focus on communication, consistency, and respect. These words can be defined a number of ways but the way we define and apply them is what gives you and your dog the ultimate relationship. Our work needs to be clear and consistent, we must do the repetitions the same every time and we must communicate it to the dog in the language they understand. This combination is what leads to the mutual respect that is demanded in the training relationship.
While we strictly train on the DOGS agenda, we must have a PLAN as the trainer. Our next part will be focusing on the plan.
With over a dozen dogs milling about some sleeping, some chewing on bones and others scoping out what to do next you can see what a stable, calm pack can look like. These dogs range from my 6 pound chihuahua to my 65 pound high drive working shepherds all living happily in the same pack. My work as a dog behaviorist and dog trainer has allowed me to manage an ever changing pack of dogs. It is not as simple as throwing a bunch of dogs into a backyard, you must be able to communicate effectively with your dogs and have a solid foundation set in your training methods. This is not something made for TV, this is real life, this is MY life.