Dog Training Skill It is more about the end
No matter what your dream is for your dog, I can tell you that knowing how you want it to be in the end is the greatest starting place.
Example, many people start Obedience to see if they pass, then when they eventually do, proceed through the levels only find a sticking point mid way through because their training at the start never considered the future.
Using a leash to control your dog and feeding your dog as you heel along is never going to happen in any ring, yet it is the most common way dogs start in training…
How about even something as simple as teaching your pet dog to stay?
Whilst people will back away saying “stay stay stay” over and over again, the pro tip is, to get a reliable stay, the focus is not telling your dog to stay, its telling your dog that he or she no longer needs to.
I use a break signal or terminal bridge if I am rewarding in drive to signal to my dog how long he or she needs to stay. In laymen’s terms it means that, I will give the dog a sit cue, then instantly break the dog and reward him/her. I do this with a verbal “O.K”.
After running several repetitions you will see the dog looking at you after the sit cue for the release, it is now that I extend the time gradually.
So as you can see I may not say “stay” at all…
When I am coaching a person to train their dog in an animated / competition level heel work, again you would be surprised how short the sessions are and how big the reward is.
Again, it is about the end…
What I actually see is people who have the end in mind but it isn’t the right end…
Perhaps you have a dog that is in the park and you want the dog to recall to you, so you give your biggest and most cheerful recall cue and your dog looks up. Then he or she starts to walk or even trot toward you, and when your dog arrives you give a sit command and when your dog sits you have over a treat whilst you chat with someone else.
You repeat this often enough and your dog will stop coming. Why? you rewarded at the END right? Yes and no, you rewarded at the end of the sit, but failed to reward the recall.
Here is my example: –
- My dog is sniffing at the park
- I give him a recall cue
- He lifts his head
- I say YES (this is a terminal bridge.)
- He starts to run to me to get the reward
- I produce the reward and we play TOGETHER.
Some tips to make this work for you: –
The recall cue is not the come command I use inside my house when he has no real option, it’s a word that I ONLY use when I will play tug with him.
The TB (Terminal bridge) is a conditioned reinforcer that has a huge reward history, he is 3 and a bit years old, he has heard this same marker before a huge reward his whole life.
I play WITH my dog, I don’t hand over rewards, begrudgingly or other wise.
Years ago someone figured out that teaching the last step of an exercise first was a great way to break up a complex task and teach it, in dog training it is called “back chaining”. I have just taken it a little further and I start with the VERY last action, the REWARD.
Start with the reward, indicate when you will give it to your dog and work back to the start of the exercise; I bet you will see a new, more motivated and reliable dog in front of you in a week.