Cities can be hard places to visit with your pets, in this case our dog, Shana. As it is, Shana has never really warmed up to crowds of people especially with dogs. I do train a lot with Shana, but city area training somewhat limited due to automobile troubles. Nonetheless, Shana is trained to an extent, and we felt it would be far more stressful to have her with a strange pet sitter. Cities are consumed with noises, crowds, and actually far more wildlife than you might see in the country on a daily basis. One thing did not think of is the amount of harmful objects that can be on the ground during your exploring in the city, especially off main roads or those that tourists know of. The cars drive aggressively, which can be a danger to you and your dog, if you don't take that into account. Often there are celebrations going on to attract the tourists and their money as well (in our case we went to a Jethro Tull Concert on our last evening). This post is about a few things that I learned, and a few things I considered while getting Shana ready in the short-term for our trip.
In the last blog, we discussed the place command. The stay command, specifically, is a command that you can is part of a sit, down, or stand command. This is where you want your dog to stay in a certain position anywhere that you are.
The place command is one of the first things I start to teach with many dogs. This command combines a send away, a stay, a stay within a barrier, impulse control and calming exercise all in one. Additionally, this can be the very start on walking on leash with a puppy or dog. Some dog owners and trainers may only utilize the stay portion, but I feel the send away portion is very valuable as time goes on. Let me explain a little bit about this very useful exercise.
There is a quote passed around by many professional dog trainers "What your dog can't do on leash, they can't do off leash". Leashes are very important pieces of dog training equipment, but they aren't talked about that much in pet dog training circles. They really deserve our respect, because leashes are a life line to a dog in training, who will be enjoying some off leash freedom some day beyond confined areas (fences, walls of a building, and so on).
As I write this, the new training dogs coming in have been frequent now, and our business is heating back up for the summer. This is a really stressful time for Shana at home as always. Being a dog trainer's dog is not fun for all dogs. At the same time, we have been working regularly on Shana's impulse control and reactivity around other dogs. She has been doing really well, but today she has clearly had enough of this. We are currently in the Middle of Week 6 on a Thursday. I haven't taken many videos, so I am going to go over what we have been doing to date.
What is it that "play training" can add to your partner and canine team (Part 4 of 4 Play Training Series)
Why should someone consider adding play training to their dog training routine? I say add, because I am never just play training. For instance, if I am on a busy city street and we have some training to do, I probably am not going to use my flirt pole, frisbee, or ball to start a training session. I may use food as play or just as a standard reward. I may also use to do a subtle form of traditional training or management. So for those reasons, I don't believe you can get away with just play training your dog, although I would not have a problem with it if I could figure out how!
So then the question is, why add play training in?
This is Shana demonstrating some impulse control while we play and food train. Sometimes I use just food reward or just toy reward. In this instance, I am using both food and toy. Shana's impulse is to rip the toy apart right before my eyes OR not give it up at all. Impulse control is when the dog is not doing something that they would like to do in the moment. When you are using play, they are controlling their impulse because they want the game to go on, instead of being corrected in more traditional training methods.
Note: Our next blog will go over what play training provides for you that is different than traditional dog training, and why you might want to use it.
Play training focuses on the reward of play for engagement, enthusiasm, and motivation of the tasks, obedience, behavioral change, and relationship being formed. It sounds easy, right? The dog does this, and then we go and do that. The knowledge of the impending reward of continuing the game increases the likely hood of the behavior and/or performance that you want. In theory, it is easy. In practice, you can make mistakes that I would rather others avoid if possible.
In 2011 I came across a YouTube video of a trainer, Mike Ellis, who is a well known sports dog trainer. I hadn't heard of him, as he wasn't a fixture in pet dog training or AKC obedience. What he was doing absolutely blew me away, and he was having a seminar in RI the next week. I paid the very reasonable price to attend with a non working or audit spot (means you don't bring a dog to work and be coached), as all the working spots were filled. The seminar was called "Focus and Drive". This was the beginning of my play training journey. I am going to do a series on play training on this blog for the next few weeks (or more).
Author, Robin Rubin
Owner and Head Dog Trainer in Maine, Robin Katherine Rubin, started her Maine dog training business in September 2004. Our dog training facility is located in Southern Maine in York Beach and we help families enjoy their dogs more, making sure they listen reliably and resolving unwanted behaviors.