Advanced Dog Training – Introduction

Lesson Attachments

In this unit we shall look at some more advanced exercises and common problems that can arise if the dog picks up the wrong association.  If an exercise goes wrong, we can usually trace the error back to one of the first training sessions that was carried out.  Often by watching the dog make mistakes in its interpretation of a command it gives us an insight into how the exercise was trained in the first place.

We shall also look at some of the more difficult dogs to train and why they can be a challenge by also taking a look at the words – spontaneous recovery and resurgence.

In any training programme we can identify three tree basic parts that go to make up every behaviour.

  • 1) The command (instruction, cue, trigger, antecedent etc)
  • 2) The dog’s response to the command
  • 3) The result of the behaviour for the dog.

So briefly we:

  • 1) Give the command to sit
  • 2) The dog sits and,
  • 3) We say good dog

Or alternatively we:

  • 1) Give the command to sit
  • 2) The dog remains standing
  • 3)  We say bad dog!

The behaviour that we are trying to train is dependent on the command being given accurately and consistently every time and also, to a much larger degree on the result for the dog.  Basically, if I want to get the dogs response to be consistent then the command and the result also need to be consistent.

If a dog has been badly trained to recall on command, then attempting to retrain it using the same command that has clearly failed to elicit the correct and consistent result then the TWO things that need to be changed are the command and the result.  Continuing use the same failed command will result in the same result from the dog.  So, by changing both the command and the result should show very rapid improvements in the behaviour being trained.  Here is the example:

A dog being trained to do a down stay for 10 minutes with the handler out of sight repeatedly failed as the dog would break the stay and walk forward in the direction that the handler had gone.  This continued for nearly a year and resulted in many failed competitions.  The command that was being used was “STAY”.  Despite using many different strategies to solve the problem including shocking the dog for moving(!), tethering it and using the dog’s dinner to reward it for staying the problem persisted.  It was obvious that the command that was being used for nearly a year had clearly produced an unwanted response from the dog.  Continuing to use this command would continue to produce this response!  Teaching the dog food refusal on the command “LEAVE” and then putting food in front of the dog and changing the command from “STAY” to “LEAVE” very quickly produced the desired response.  The act of placing the food on the floor became a ritualistic action prior to the command leave being given.  The dog never failed another down stay because in his mind he was now only required to do food refusal for 10 minutes.  Easy if you think about it.

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