Training Troubles? How to Avoid Potential Problems in Dog Training

Have you ever thought something your dog or puppy did was super funny and cute .. not realizing you have encouraged that behavior and now have something to fix later on?

It could even be that we unintentionally taught a bad habit, decided not to address it right that moment, or maybe we didn't encourage it but just ignored it. It happens - our dog training TO DO LIST is very long! We let some things go to focus on other skills and behaviors.

We want to spend more time developing desired behavior verses fixing unwanted behavior later on. 

What can go wrong?

If you have a young puppy, antics in and of themselves can be quite cute and funny. Most are likely harmless.

What about basic manners in your current dog? Often we let those slide for our sports dogs since we can manage them enough when in the ring But let's think about our sports prospects and why many of these behaviors DO matter. What are some behaviors you might allow "for now" that might be trouble later?

Here are some that come to mind …. toy keep away, hoarding, leash pulling, leash reactivity, stuck on a prop, enthusiastic barking, ouching bitey mouth, jumping up to greet people, breaking agility start lines or contacts, and Nosework box antics.

To go over a few … dogs who want to possess their toys can be a real challenge when we need cooperation for using them for reinforcement and interaction. Toy play is a skill - there is give and take and we need to be aware of how we communicate and teach toy play to avoid problems down the road. See Shade's class link below on toy cooperation and play!

Hoarding! My new cute little puppy would "retrieve" any and all things, hold them and carry them around and bury them under blankets and couch cushions. Adorable, right? I was mighty pleased that I would have a natural Belgian retriever! Well, that wasn't a retrieve and my formal retrieve and hold training is not coming along that easily! The hoarding itself, not an issue. There was no guarding. It was a very innate behavior. What I needed to do was address this earlier and teach cooperation in parallel - to work together on building value for picking up and delivering objects to me.

Leash reactivity! Per Amy Cook, it gets inadvertently taught by people tending up and pulling dogs away from each other and soon, boom! See her class info below to learn how to avoid all that.

Box antics in Nosework? That's trouble! Often early exposure to boxes and definitely unclear criteria will lead to faults and false alerts in competition. Squishing and perching and chewing may seem funny, but believe me it will lead to a lot of frustration and retraining later. See my workshop link below for more details in preventing and fixing this unwanted behavior.

With each new dog we usually strive to not have THAT problem again and pick a few to be more vigilant with the next time.

What To Do Now?

The best advice? Do not rehearse the unwanted behavior! I repeat, do not rehearse what you do not want. Counter what they might do more naturally with a focused application. And those funny, cute, seemingly innocent behaviors, can really turn into big problems later.

Learn to recognize what might be potentially troubling later, and find the tools, resources and methods to make it right! We also need to make sure we are training the dog in front of us and not reflexively assume they need what the last dog needed. I remember making sure my next agility dog would NOT break her start line. I over- trained it with a more thoughtful dog and had a GREAT start line, but put too much control on it and lost some get up and go!

When we teach objectively and with clarity, you and your dog will be happier for it!

FDSA classes and workshops to help

There are many upcoming workshops and classes at Fenzi Dog Sports Academy that might give you some tools for your troubles!

Workshops running now that may be of interest .... registration closes May 31, 2020.

WW170: Box Antic Prevention for Nosework - Julie Symons

WW16: Drop the Prop - Julie Flanery

Classes that may be of interest …. starting June 1st, registration opens May 22.

BH150: Management for Reactive Dogs - Amy Cook, Ph.D.

AG190: The Glue for Future Agility Stars - Nancy Gagliardi Little

FF130: Toys - Developing Cooperation and Play - Shade Whitesel

FE105: Get Focused - Deborah Jones, Ph.D and Judy Keller

FE540: Knock-Knock from Chaos to Calm - Nancy Tucker

E166: Dr. Lore Haug - "Classical Conditioning & Ne...
E165: Peta Clarke - "The ABCs: Changing Behavior t...

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