This video shows the first day with Jack at my training center. He is with us due to chronic fear and related aggression. No training has been done at the point of this footage. Read more
Tag Archive for: training
I commonly preach to my clients on the benefits of regularly practicing obedience exercises with their dogs that require self control.
“Self control,” I say, “is like a muscle, the more you use it the stronger it gets. If you don’t use it, it goes into atrophy.”
I of course, only based this piece of advice on my own experience as a professional trainer, having trained thousands of dogs. I certainly had no scientific evidence to back me up, but I preach this like a religion. This simple idea is the reason behind why I instruct my trainers who conduct classes here to put so much emphasis on the down-stay position, or a simple place command. These two exercises are the cornerstones of self control in the dog training world.
Recently however, science stepped into my corner. The Journal of Experimental Social Psychology recently released a study titled: “Building self-control strength: Practicing self-control leads to improved self-control performance”, confirming what I had learned through experience.
Quite simply, the study found that Self-control performance may be improved by the regular practice of small acts of self-control. Ninety-two adults’ self-control capacity was assessed using the stop signal paradigm before they started practicing self-control and again at the end of 2 weeks. Participants who practiced self-control exhibited significant improvement in stop signal performance relative to those who practiced tasks that did not require self-control. Participants who did not practice self-control believed that the tasks should improved self-control, engaged in tasks that were effortful and made self-control salient, but did not actually require self-control. Supplemental analyses suggested that only practicing self-control built self-control capacity.
In the dog world, controlled walking, or heeling, is another primary self control task. The average dog’s natural pace is much faster than a human’s, and there are many super cool things out in the world that the dog wants to check out. This usually leads to the dog dragging her owner around on the leash. Teaching a dog to walk politely on a leash, fundamentally requires 2 things:
1) A general awareness of the handlers position
2) Self Control
Your dog wants to go in front of you, of course she does, every inch of her body is telling her to move faster than you. Her ability then to slow down and walk at your pace, is directly related to her capacity for self control. By taking your dog for two controlled walks a day, you can greatly increase her ability to utilize self control in all aspects of her life.
Before I get too involved in this post, let me just start by saying that there is a big difference in my mind between training dogs for competition obedience, and doing what I term “Real world dog training.” Don’t get me wrong, there are a lot of similarities as well, the most important being that both are grounded in the use of learning theory and classical and operant conditioning. However, understanding the differences can be very important especially for the individual who is filtering through the masses of conflicting information about training methods out there, and trying to determine what is best for their dog.
In my view, one of the most important distinctions in this matter is the Type of dogs used for the competition style training. When I say type, I am not referring to breed, but rather to individual traits that can vary across breeds. Most importantly, the overall motivation level, or drive, of the dog. Since most modern competition style training is founded primarily on the use of positive reinforcement, the drive of the dog is an extremely important factor.
How much overall motivation your dog may have is in large part (not entirely) determined by genetics, and it matters because the more the dog wants what you have, the harder he will work to achieve it. In other words, the higher the dog’s motivation or drive state, the more you can do with positive reinforcement alone. The average pet dog can vary widely on this singular trait, and where your dog falls on this spectrum will in a large part determine how successful you may be in a positive only training program. This does not make the dog “better” or “worse”, it just means that we need to balance our training accordingly with the use of positives and negatives to achieve the optimum result (my philosophy on balance in dog training is a separate topic).
The flip side of all this is that although the more motivated dogs can often be easier to teach, they also are often the more difficult dogs to live with. They tend to be more active, more curious (which often leads them into trouble), and more in need of physical and mental stimulation.
O.k. you may be wondering where I’m going with all this. So, with all that being said, This Link is of a video of one of my favorite dog trainers, Michael Ellis, and his competition dog Pi. Pi currently holds a Modio Ring III title (very tough competition), and Michael plans on competing with him at the national and international level. Pi is a very high drive dog, and Michaels use of positive reinforcement training is about as good as it gets. This video is an awesome example of how, if you have a highly motivated dog, you can combine playing an training to create a beautiful and almost artistic activity. This is the Craft of dog training
Thank you to Ed Frawley of Leerburg.com for producing this video making Michael Ellis’ expertise available to a wider audience.
This is the beginning of week 2 of a “BootCamp” dog training program with Apollo the Doberman. I am using my own Dog Lobo a Belgian Malinois to help provide distraction and Apollo works on downs. At this point Apollo has been training with us for 8 days.
I love training sessions like this because they are for for both human and dog, and they get the dog used to transitioning quickly from excited to calm states. My sidekick Lobo had a good time too; he always appreciates an opportunity to show off his skills.
On a side note, I was really pleased as this was the first time since I got Lobo in November that I had him interact with another un-neutered full grown male. Having two un-neutered males meet for the first time can always be a little hairy (no pun intended), but all these boys wanted to do was play and have a good time.
This is the beginning stages of a drill that I will be using for Dante (10 1/2 month Malinois) to help him understand to always work in straight lines regardless of obstacles or distraction. This exercise has many direct applications into various dog sports where being able to send your dog away from you is essential. However I also find it very helpful for pet dogs as it will inevitably increase your ability to communicate with and control your dog even at distances.
In general, anytime you can increase the clarity of communication between your dog and yourself it will improve your bond, and increase your overall level of obedience.
This video shows 10 month old Bella learning to use self control by staying on a place, even with another dog in the room. With the help of K9 Connection lead dog trainer Josh Moran and his Pit Bull King, she is making excellent progress.
This is Bella’s third session of an obedience program at K9 Connection Dog Training.
Josh Moran and his Pit bull ‘King’ learning the “right” position using a place board and markers.
This Video shows trainer Tyler Muto from K9 Connection Dog Training in Buffalo, NY and his 8 month old Malinois puppy ‘Dante’ beginning an exercise for remote position changes (moving from sit-down-stand, at a distance.) Tyler is using a platform to help keep Dante from creeping forward as he learns how to do this.
The foundation for this work has been done using positive reinforcement and marker training. The prerequisites that the dog needs to know are: All of the individual positions, how to transition those while next to you (sit to down, down to stand etc.) and some variation of a ‘place’ command (keep all four feet on an object). The word “no” or “nope” here is not being used as a correction, but rather as a way to communicate to the dog that he made a mistake and he has to try again.
This video (Courtesy of Marcus Hampton) shows Tyler Muto and ‘Dante’ in protection training. This was filmed about 1 month ago when Dante was 7 months old. The Decoy is Marcus Hampton.