"The Peeing Post"

Newsletter for dog lovers who respect the dog's nature

Chief Editor: Mogens Eliasen

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Training Your Dog...

 

Dear $first_name,

Did I scare you too much with the numbers regarding risk management? I know it is a tough area to move into, and you are not very likely to get much help from your vet, so I certainly hope that you will take the advice seriously and get your risks under control. If you work together with other people on this, the task is much more palatable. You are not alone about having a need for this information - so try to get together with some other people in your area. Share The Peeing Post with them, so they understand the concepts too. It is too important to not get done. (You are always welcome to simply forward any issue of The Peeing Post to a person you know, as long as you do not do mass-mailing (hundreds at a time)...)

Another issue that pertains to this is the ridiculous requirements from your local government about mandatory vaccination in order to obtain your dog license. Seriously: fight it! With everything you can and dare. It is nothing but unconstitutional and plain illegal abuse of your fundamental citizen rights, as you do not pose any risk or discomfort to anyone else by not vaccinating your dog. Vaccinated dogs are at least as good, if not much better, at transferring those diseases... besides, taking care of your dog is your responsibility, nobody else's. It is none of your local government's business to demand that you vaccinate in order to issue you a license. If it would require you to have a liability insurance, that would be a different matter, because that would constitute protection of other members of society. But prescribing how you are going to manage your own dog's health is BS, so do not feel bad about breaking the local bylaws here, if that is what you have to do to protect your dog.


I want to into training today. I assume you already checked out the training introduction page on K9joy's web site at http://k9joy.com/education/trainyourdog.php.

There is a lot of important information available on and from that page, so I suggest you don't cheat yourself on checking it out. If you haven't done it yet, it is time now!

Did you get started on doing some brainwork with your dog? If not, you should get a copy of "BrainWork for Smart Dogs" and get some inspiration and guidance. You will have lots of fun - and you dog will adore you for your creativity! (You don't have to tell it that you read it all in my book...)

You should also know that I am constantly working on updates to "BrainWork for Smart Dogs", so if you have any ideas you would like me to include in the next issue, please let me know. Pictures and a few words about your results or experiences will be extremely welcome too!

Do you know how to train your dog to fetch your slippers? Does your dog come to your every time you call, no exceptions? Can you leave your dog alone in the car with a grocery bag full of T-bone steaks and be sure that those steaks will not even be licked on when you come back?

Well, don't despair. It is possible, but it takes work. You can go about this work in two ways:

  1. You can train and train and train and train and train - and feel good about all the exercise you get....

  2. You can use your brain and learn how to train effectively.

Most people choose the first option and give up after a few weeks when they see no results. I don't blame them!

I will give you a shortcut for your brainwork. For any kind of dog training, you will need four components of your training method:

  1. You must specify what kind of reaction you want from your dog's side;

  2. You must identify some way that will enable you to trigger that reaction when you want it;

  3. You must have a powerful reward available for the dog immediately when it performs as you want;

  4. You must choose a simple command you want to use to start the action at your choice.


Using the principles from "BrainWork for Smart Dogs", this training method will look like a comics strip, which you will hear me refer to as "The 4 Boxes":

Command

Whatever recognizable sense impression you chose that is not common English

-->

Incitement

Dog Language translation of your command, specifically adapted to your dog

-->

Reaction

Whatever action you desire from the dog's side on your command

-->

Reward

Whatever you know the dog will enjoy so much that it wants to do it all again!

The fundamental trick in all training is that, when you repeat this exact sequence, then the result will be that the dog soon will "jump the gun" and not wait for the incitement. Viola! Goal achieved!

However, there are several severe pitfalls in this for the inexperienced:

  1. First: simple English words are the worst choices you can make for commands.
  2. Second: if the dog does not appreciate your reward, you are making it work for no pay - and it won't last very long before it quits completely...
  3. Third: if you do not have a way of making the dog do what you want it to do, you have no way of training it to ever learn it on an "artificial" command...
  4. Fourth: if you don't have a very clear picture in your mind of the objective of your training, then don't expect the dog to understand much of it either...
  5. Fifth: If you continue to use a training result, without doing anything to maintain it, you will destroy it five to ten times faster than it took you to build it...

Many people believe that if they just practice, then the results will get better. It is, unfortunately, not necessarily true: if you dog performs well on your command less than 9 out of 10 times, its performance will not get better with time, as you practice more - it will deteriorate... So, if you dog comes to you about 50% of the times you call it, it will never get better. On the contrary, in just a few months, it won't come at all, unless you dramatically change your training methods!

Also: Training is not a matter of just doing more of something that doesn't work. It is a matter of taking the time to find out what works, and then get it implemented. You are working with an intelligent animal's brain - you are not programming a robot. There is a huge difference, although I acknowledge that there are too many "dog trainers" out there that don't know what the difference is. If you meet any of them, just let them play with robots and keep them away from dogs...

What do you need to train your dog to do? The answer will depend a lot on what you like to teach your dog - and this, in turn, will depend a lot on your personal interests and lifestyle. But there are a few exercises all dogs should learn from their owners, as far as I am concerned:

To be brutal: if you can't do this with your dog, you can't develop a meaningful relationship with it. "Meaningful", as seen by the dog and implying that you should be the pack leader. But these exercises cannot be the only ones you teach. You have to incorporate also activities that stimulate the dog's brain. The most effective way is doing nosework. Any kind of tracking, search, or scent work will do. But do it! Other obedience exercises, like "heeling", "sit", "down", etc. can be fine to teach - but you seriously don't need them if you can't do those I listed above... Tricks are excellent. There are no "stupid" tricks to teach a dog. Everything that involves a teaching opportunity for you is relevant and valuable. More about this in "Brainwork for Smart Dogs".

Should you join an obedience class? If you like to, please do. If not, don't. Even in a good class with a good instructor, the obedience training will not solve your general behavior problems. Mental activation and brainwork is far more effective for that purpose. But if you like the opportunity to get together with other people whom you can share experiences with, any kind of dog club or training class can be of value.

What about agility or fly-ball? Sure, those are great activities, as long as your dog hasn't yet learned quite how to do it! However, in the very moment the dog figures out how to this without much support from you, the value of those kinds of exercises gets so close to zero that you might as well quit and find something else that actually can challenge to dog's brain!

If you live in my neck of the woods, you are, of course, welcome to join the classes I am offering. You can check the possibilities out at http://k9joy.com/dogtraining/courseoverview.html. But chances are, you live farther away...

There are three options then:

  1. We can always do Private Lessons - although it can become quite pricey if transportation is an issue.

  2. If you can arrange for a little group of people who would like to share the financial burden also, we can do a Special Assignment.

  3. If none of this works out for you, you can join a Camp Course.

The Camp Courses are my favorite! They are also the least expensive solution. When joining a Camp Course, you basically take a week's vacation with your dog and me and a few more people in a small group who all have the same objective as you: get to learn as much as you can about how you can improve your training skills and your relationship with your dog. I promise that your dog will be pooped out at the end of the week, if you have the stamina to hang in... I also promise you that, if you follow my instructions, you will get so much value from such a course that you will be impressed. I actually give you a full money-back guarantee for a result you will like! (I seriously don't know of any other trainers who dare to do that - but I have done it for many years - and not yet got a single serious request for a refund...)

Anyway - this issue is getting too long now - I will come back with some practical training tips in the next issue.

 

Cheers and woof,

Mogens Eliasen

 

If you have any suggestions to contributions or contents of The Peeing Post, or some comments or questions pertaining to this issue or in to dogs in general, I will be happy to know about them. If I can find an answer for you, I will!

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P.S. I am working on making all my courses available on video. The biggest challenge with giving valuable coaching for training is so see the results. If you can get someone else to make a video recording of your training, we can do the training per correspondence.

It works this way: I send you a video with the lesson. You do the training and send me a recording of the results - and I review what you accomplished and give you the advice you need for moving on, either by sending you the next lesson or by correcting the things you need to do differently. I can send you an e-mail, or we can talk on the phone, or I can make a video recording with a demonstration for you.

With the video training, you will get all the materials you would get as a student in an "ordinary class". But it is like getting private lessons - at a much lesser price...

If you are interested in doing training per video with me, please check my web site so you know what courses are available. The page to check is http://k9joy.com/dogtraining/videotraining.html.

Cheers,

Mogens