"The Peeing Post"

Newsletter for dog lovers who respect the dog's nature

Chief Editor: Mogens Eliasen

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Some Common Training Challenges...


Dear $first_name,

Getting progress with having your dog deliver the ball to you? If you have problems with it, you might want to get a response from me per e-mail: click on the peeing dog below so you ca get to the form you need to fill out.

You can also get a personal private lesson on the phone. For more complex problems, this will often be my suggestion per e-mail... You can set it up from http://k9joy.com/dogtraining/askthebehaviorist.php.

If you run into acute problems that call for a solution right now, then give me a call at 1-800-ASK-KEEN, extension 023-0634.

Sometimes, people have problems with this when they exaggerate the distances. You need to understand that all training becomes easier when you keep distances short. Sometimes, this takes that you keep the dog on leash - at least until you have succeeded teaching it the basic understanding of what you want it to do on your command.

Maybe it is too difficult with a ball? Well, then use a stick - or a Kong - or a rag with knots on. These are all tools. They don't matter much for the reaction you want from the dog's side - except for the fact that you should use whatever gives you the easiest access to the results. And the most important part of the result is that you get the dog to perform the action on your command. The circumstances are unimportant, because, once you taught the reaction in one kind of situation, it is so much easier to repeat the teaching in another situation that previously was too tough for achieving success.

One of the most important skills you need to acquire in order to become a good dog trainer is to develop your ability to identify situations that will allow you a break-through success in your training. Whatever it is - you can always expand from such a "bridge head". It does not matter whether or not it fits with your ultimate objective. As I explained, it is much, much easier to repeat a learning sequence in a new situation than it is to develop it from scratch in a situation that might cause too much challenge.

My classical example is Snezha, the first dog I trained seriously. I could not get him to retrieve. He refused to take anything into his mouth I had touched. And I refused to use force... But that left me without any way of getting him to run out for a dummy and pick it up and bring it back to me. I took a dummy in my pocket and brought it along everywhere - hoping that I might find a possible opportunity where I could get him to accept having the dummy put into his mouth....

I got the chance at a moment when he was lying on his back in my arm and lap and being scratched on his tummy - a favorite pleasure of his... In this relaxed situation, I was able to sneak the dummy into his mouth. Because he was lying on his back, he did not have to hold on to it in order to keep it - all I needed was for him to not spit it out!

And that was exactly what happened! I gave him a major tummy scratch while praising him in a calming way - and he enjoyed it!

I took a break and, two minutes later, I tried again - with same result! Another break, and one more try - again a success. From there, it was smooth sailing - he now connected taking the dummy with the pleasure, so he no longer resisted my putting the dummy into his mouth.

We were still far from him actively grabbing it - but as he got to enjoy holding it, he would also soon want to hold it when he heard my command - and from there, it was a small step to reaching out for it when I was a bit slow giving it to him...

Snezha became the most reliable retriever I ever had.

Another issue I want to touch is pulling on the leash.

You might not know, but chances are that you have taught your dog to pull on the leash. Most people do - without having a clue!

Here is how it works: The dog discovers an interesting scent it wants to check out. It cannot reach - so it drags you towards it. You might resist, because you don't see any reason to go there, and the pulling actually annoys you a bit. But the dog pulls harder, insisting on checking this out. You now see what it wants and don't see any problem in letting it sniff this peeing post, so you give in and let it enjoy the sniffing.

Harmless, right? Sure - if you are OK teaching the dog that pulling on the leash, you don't worry, but if you are like most dog owners, this is the start to a beginning nightmare...

Here are the four boxes that work against you:


The dog feels restricted by the leash



You tighten the leash



The dog pulls on the leash



The dog enjoys the sniffing

The result of this will be that every time the dog feels the leash tighten slightly, it will know that it just needs to pull harder, then there will be something enjoyable ahead... You have set it up to pull even more, every time you try to tighten the leash - just about the opposite of what you need in order to teach it not to pull!

And what about teaching the dog to run away from you?

I know - it sounds stupid, but it is very much reality for a large majority of dog owners. Here is how it happens: You see another dog - and so does your dog. Your dog starts running up to the other dog to play. You call it with its recall command, trying to get it to return. Now you violated a fundamental rule here - you tried to use your command in situation where you needed it - before you got it trained well enough. The immediate result is nil - it does not make the dog come back.... Instead, the dog now continues its run away from you - and ends up having a great time playing with the other dog before you can get there and take a it under control again...

Here are your four boxes:





Another dog invites play



The dog runs up to play with the other dog



The dog enjoys the play time with the other dog

And the predictable result from this sequence being repeated just a few times?

Whenever your dog hears its recall command ("FIDO!" in this example), it will look for another dog to have some good playtime with!

Not exactly what you wanted, I guess - but exactly what you get if you are not very careful about not using your training commands in situations where you do not have sufficient control to accomplish what you must accomplish...

What you should do instead of calling your dog in such a situation? It really doesn't matter - as long as you don't use any commands you cannot carry through on... Maybe you should keep your dog on leash, just for a start.... If you had your dog on leash in this situation, you could at least have avoided rewarding it for the opposite reaction of what you wanted, so the damage to the training would have been limited. If you even would have kept your mouth shut, you could have pulled your dog back and kept it close to you - and that way, you would have suffered zero damage to your training, and you would have accomplished exactly what you are expected to do in a public place.

So, when do you dare to let the dog off leash? Answer: when you are totally certain that your recall will work, also when there is another dog around that invites to play! You can easily train this with the leash on. And you simply keep the leash on until you never need to use it for control any more. The leash will become your ultimate incitement - not until it is completely redundant will you let it go.


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!

You can reach me by simply clicking on the peeing dog to the right. --->


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P.S. Talking about leashes - the optimal leash you can get for training is a "European Double Leash". It is a leash that is about 3-3.5 meters (9-11 feet) long - with two snaps, one in each end. You use one snap to hook the leash to the dog's collar, and the other one to adjust the length of the leash, which you can vary from short (the free snap hooked on very close to the collar, virtually doubling the leash) to full length (the free snap not attached at all).

Preferably, the leash should also have a couple of rings to attach the free snap to, so you can use lengths in-between half and full, depending on your training purpose. It is paramount for your enjoyment of such a leash that you get it in a material that gives you a comfortable grip anywhere on its length. Number one it double-braided leather or heavy webbing. Nylon or metal is totally out of the question...

I used to have a supplier of those leashes to my students, but she sold the business to someone who closed it... I found an alternative supplier, you might want to check out K9joy Equipment Shop. You can also get collars that match. Beautiful, genuine leather work with no stitches, no sewing, no clams. Everything is put together by braiding the leather strips into themselves, so that stuff lasts a life time if you treat it well. And some nice little treat pouches for your upper arm!

Particularly for training of recall and fetch, you will have tremendous value of being able to "extend" the length of your leash. Don't fall for the temptation of getting a leash that is too long - it just complicates the training. 4 meters (12 feet) is maximum. (And there is no way you should dare to use a flexi-leash for that kind of training - those leashes are not only outright dangerous for your dog - but they also teach your dog the opposite of what you should be teaching it when you take it out for a walk. If you already have one, then please just throw it away - it is evil to give it to somebody else...)