Week three and you’ve either settled into a routine or you’re climbing the walls with the enforced confinement!
Whichever it is, why not take a break and do something positive with your dog?
I’ve found that Juno has been ignoring some of my commands and only doing them after a fashion or when she feels like it. So this morning, I used our walk as a good way to reinforce some of those that she’s been fudging.
Juno’s pretty good at that one unless there is a distraction outside, which can happen on the walk. Today her speed of walking was increasing as one of the routes I follow takes us past her favourite pal. Anticipating seeing him makes her thoroughly deaf!
So I insisted she stop, sat, and, most importantly, made consistent eye contact before I allowed her to carry on. At first, she kept looking away to see if her friend was in the garden. I kept encouraging her to look at me until she concentrated on me and then came the reward – to go and investigate. It took a while, but, in the end, she did really well. Once she performed the command, immediately sitting and making eye contact, then I said ‘Good’ and released her. I always try to remember to use a release word/phrase.
Have a release word/phrase.
Whenever I want to cross a road or need Juno to sit and wait for a passing car, I use the ‘Sit’ command, then ‘Look at me’, ‘Good’, and finally ‘Go Free’. Juno has very little patience so after a car has passed she likes to get up and go immediately. We’re working on this process because it means we’re keeping connected the whole time.
Not only that, it means that she might be listening and sitting for me but, then, whizzing off doing her own thing. That’s not good enough because often there might be another car coming immediately after the first. So, it’s really important to keep her connected with me until I release her.
She doesn’t ‘do’ patience which means I really have to work at this! Apart from anything, it will help her learn self-control. And I’d got a bit lax about reinforcing the commands.
You can use ‘Go Free’, ‘Off you go’ or just ‘Okay’ as a release.
Don’t keep repeating yourself!
It’s very important that you don’t keep repeating any command until you finally lose your cool and yell it in exasperation. Your blood pressure is off the Richter scale by then and you’ve lost self-control so don’t expect your dog to have any either!
Instead, when it comes to practising a command, work on it at home and always on lead so that your dog can’t just walk away from you.
Have your treat ready and in view, then ask for the command you want just ONCE! If your dog ignores the request, put the treat back in your pocket, and turn your back on him. Then turn round, take the treat out, and ask again. Your dog should automatically perform the command, in which case, say ‘Good’ and reward.
Don’t practise working at any command for longer than 2-5 minutes or your dog will become sulky and slow to react. That makes him less inclined to train again. Instead, finish quickly when he’s performed well, give him a big cuddle, and tell him he’s a star!
Better still, follow it all up with a game. How positive is that?