Recall Training: The One Cue Every Dog Should Know

If I could teach a dog only one thing, what would it be?

To come when called. Few things are quite as frustrating as a dog that is oblivious to your futile attempts to call him back to you or worse, a dog that thrives on the game of "keep away."

A dog with a strong recall has freedom! You can take them places and get them back when you want to leave.

A dog with a strong recall has safety! You can let them off the leash without an unreasonable fear of having them run off or get hit by a car (though all decisions involve risk).

A strong recall makes you welcome with other people and dog owners!

If you have ever found yourself calling out "don't worry; my dog is friendly!" then please read the next paragraphs with great care.

Get ready because I'm going to be blunt here…. 

Continue reading
  8332 Hits
8332 Hits

E155: Maia Perez - "Trialing for the First Time"

What's it like trialing for the first time? This week I talk to a new competitor about her first trial and what it's like competing in Scentwork and Rally for the first time!

Continue reading
  989 Hits
989 Hits

Want a Relaxed Down Stay? Stop Rewarding It!

My young golden Excel was super quick to learn stay. He'd lay down on his station or on the ground at my feet and stay there – all while staring at me intensely. 

If I ignored him, he'd sigh loudly or flip onto his hip or put his chin on the ground. I remember how he would purposely look away from me, with his eyes rolled toward me to see if I was going to give him a treat. Or he'd look away and snap his head back toward me in anticipation of the reward. He was offering all the relaxation behaviors I spent months rewarding him for in an attempt to train a relaxed down stay. 

Instead of a calm dog I had a dog that was constantly working, offering behaviors, and seeking reinforcement. Not the picture I wanted.

Continue reading
  7464 Hits
7464 Hits

E154: Stacy Barnett - The Evolution of a Dog Trainer

Stacy and I talk about how her thinking on training for nosework has evolved over time - from looking at just the emotional components to considering the cognitive skills dogs need to thrive in this sport.

Continue reading
  1666 Hits
1666 Hits

The Happy Place is Real! Teaching Your Dog To Love Anywhere You May Train

This blog post is a mini lecture taken from Julie's Cookie Jar Games class.

Classical conditioning affects our minds and our bodies, and the way we perceive the world around us. It affects basic functions like heart rate and blood pressure, feelings, and yes, salivation.

All at the level of the autonomic systems of the body.

Classical conditioning does not need your permission. It is ongoing whether you know it or not, and whether you like it or not. 

Continue reading
  1605 Hits
1605 Hits

E153: Nicole Wiebusch - "Reward Placement, Stays, and All Things Rally"

The details make all the difference — this week, Nicole and I chat about how tiny changes can have a big impact... from reward placement to reducing reinforcement.

Continue reading
  1320 Hits
1320 Hits

The tiny change that can make all the difference: Strategic reward placement

Picture a training session. Your dog does the correct behavior, and you reward them. You did your job, right?

If your dog listened to your cue, and you gave the dog a treat, then all the important parts were taken care of... because marking and rewarding the behavior is the important part, right? Or is it? 

Continue reading
  2463 Hits
2463 Hits

E152: Deb Jones - From Dolphins to Dogs: Better, More Cooperative Care

A training opportunity at the SHEDD aquarium in Chicago led Deb Jones down a new path — considering how we can incorporate cooperative care training for our canine companions.

Continue reading
  1570 Hits
1570 Hits

Do you want a more efficient search dog?

Sure! Who wouldn't want their dog to find all the hides more accurately and in a faster time? The big question is…. CAN YOU help your dog to be more efficient? After all, doesn't it just depend on the dog finding the scent cone and following Birch back to the hide? 

That was a little tongue in cheek! 

Actually, you CAN help your dog to become a more efficient and effective searcher. The key is in creating a BALANCE between the dog's desires and the inputs that they are receiving.

The search dog lives in a constant state of conundrum. Does he chase a squirrel or smell girl-dog pee or does he go out and seek a scented Qtip? The answer depends on what pays off both with reward and intrinsic value. 

The act of searching is fun for the dog. It's kind of like sitting down to a (doable) jigsaw puzzle and finishing it while sipping on a hot cocoa. I don't know about you, but a 1,000-piece puzzle is pretty daunting to me. I am liable to look for a few edge pieces and then give up when I can't get any to connect. I'm more of a 200-piece puzzler. That is more my speed. So not only do we need appropriate puzzles for our dogs, but we have to help them work through their priorities.

Continue reading
  2889 Hits
2889 Hits

E151: Leslie McDevitt - Pattern Games for Working on Reactivity & Focus

The fabulous Leslie McDevitt joins me to talk about her latest book and upcoming FDSA webinar on Pattern Games... games she teaches to help with reactivity and build better focus.

Continue reading
  2940 Hits
2940 Hits

Simplophile or Complexophile: How you say things matters.

These two words were recently added to my vocabulary by a fellow dog trainer. In a nutshell, the idea is that people have a natural tendency to make topics either simple or complex as a personality trait.

I am a complexophilephobic. My third newest word!

And I have friends who are theoretical complexophiles with applied simplophile tendencies.

How long did it take you to read those words, break them into pieces, and then process what I was trying to say? Was it intuitive and obvious or are you still puzzling them out?

Continue reading
  1537 Hits
1537 Hits

E150: Jennifer Summerfield - Behavior Meds: What every dog owner should know

Dr. Jennfier Summerfield is back on the podcast to talk about normal behavior vs. abnormal behavior, when it's time to talk meds, and what meds might be on the table.

Continue reading
  2301 Hits
2301 Hits

Planning Ahead: Getting Reinforcers Off Your Body

The process of getting reinforcers (treats or toys) off your body in preparation for entering an obedience or rally ring is something it's easy to overlook and rush. Most dogs act very differently when their handler has treats versus when the handler does not have treats, yet many people go straight from training with treats in their pockets to leaving treats on their crate and going into the ring.

When the dog starts off doing well in the ring, but then his or her performance degrades as the dog realizes that s/he is not going to get a reward, it can be very frustrating.

As the dog's performance gets worse, the handler tends to get confused and upset, emotions the dog can feel, leading to a further decline in behavior. As you can imagine, this can become a vicious cycle, and leaves the handler wondering why his/her dog shuts down in the ring.

Continue reading
  3357 Hits
3357 Hits

E149: What to Expect at FDSA Training Camp 2020

This week I had on Chelsey Protulipac, Ruth Ellis, and Megan Walsh to talk about their experiences at previous FDSA Training Camps now that registration is open for 2020!

Continue reading
  977 Hits
977 Hits

Moments of Pride: Distraction Training and Timing

Someone working through my Distraction Training Program asked me recently, "When working distraction training with pet dogs, when should the student be instructed to mark the correct behavior?"

I'll address this based on how I think and problem solve – as a relationship-based trainer.

"When should a student mark a behavior?"

Regardless of whether you use a clicker, a marker word, or just stick a cookie in the dog's mouth, the moment is always the same:

At that moment when your heart knew that your dog would succeed, mark it! When you felt pride! 

Your dog walked past a tempting cookie on the ground and completed the recall instead. Did you feel pride? Great; that's the timing you want!

Continue reading
  1934 Hits
1934 Hits

E148: Petra Ford - "Conditioned for Excellence in Obedience"

Petra and I talk about the fitness that is required of our competitive obedience dogs... and how working on conditioning exercises can benefit your obedience performance.

Continue reading
  1451 Hits
1451 Hits

The Number One Reason Teaching Duration Behaviors is Hard (And A Simple Trick to Make it Easy)

Are you one of the lucky few who find duration easy to train? Or are you like the majority of us, and struggle with getting duration on behaviours?

Because it's an abstract concept, duration can be quite a challenge to teach. Often we can get it for certain behaviours, but not others. And we have no idea why!

We end up with a dog who barks, fusses, repeats the behaviour, offers new behaviours, or just gives up and quits.

If this is you, help is here. I'm going to explain why the most common way to teach duration so often backfires, and then share the method I use that makes teaching duration a snap.

Continue reading
  3853 Hits
3853 Hits

E147: Andrea Harrison - "Setting Better Training Goals in 2020"

Happy New Year! Andrea and I talk about reflecting on 2019 and setting goals for the New Year to help you do more and get your brain the right headspace for success.

Continue reading
  1404 Hits
1404 Hits

How to Talk to Your Dog: Becoming Cue Savvy

Zen sits on the sofa across the room and stares at me. What does he want? 

If I ask him "what do you want?" he cannot answer me in words. But he can still tell me. How? By what he does. 

If he jumps up, grabs a toy, and deposits it in my lap he has just clearly communicated his current desire to me. Let's say I'm busy and don't want to play right at that moment. So I tell him "go lay down" and he heaves a sigh of disappointment, but goes back to the sofa and settles into a relaxed down to nap for a while longer. 

I used my "go lay down" cue and he completely understood what it meant. He didn't like it, but he understood it. We had clear mutual communication.

Continue reading
  1956 Hits
1956 Hits

E146: Helene Lawler - "How to Escape Foundationland"

 Helene has led a number of discussions lately around the idea of foundationland... this place many trainers get stuck in when training their dogs - so I invited her on to talk about the concept and what to do to escape if you find yourself stuck there.

Continue reading
  1585 Hits
1585 Hits