Thursday (9:30am–5:30pm): Puppy Classes & Consultations
Friday (9:30am–5:30pm): Adult Dog Classes and Consultations
Saturday (9:30am–5:30pm): Training at Home and in the Park
Sunday (9:30am–5:30pm): Games & Activities for Engagement & Attention
My new seminar series, Science-Based Dog Training (with Feeling), highlights a number of extremely diverse theoretical and practical issues that are severely holding back dog training. A number of attendees have asked me to offer a structured and comprehensive course on how to teach owners to raise good natured and well-behaved dogs that are reliable off-leash, even when at a distance or distracted and without the need for training tools (permanent management tools). It is so important that we bring reliability and precision back to dog training without losing the fun or damaging the relationship. And so here it is… along the lines of my Annual Puppy Trainers Workshops of the early 1990s, I have scheduled three intensive 4-Day courses in Anaheim CA, Philadelphia PA and Chicago IL.
Thursday: Puppy Classes & Consultations
Puppyhood is still being wasted. Breeders, owners and trainers are simply not doing one tenth of the training, one hundredth of the socialization, or one thousandth of the classical conditioning required to provide puppies with the manners, confidence and social savvy and to successfully navigate adolescence. Far too many eight-week-old puppies are shamefully under-socialized and relatively untrained and a recent survey of puppy classes revealed that more than 50% of class time was spent with puppies on leash and owners sitting on chairs listening to the trainer lecture about theory and how to do it, rather than actually doing it.
• Proactively promoting Puppy Classes and In-the-Home Puppy Consultations to veterinary practitioners. Puppy classes are the very best developmental marketing.
• Puppy classes should be taught entirely off-leash to enable socialization, acquisition of bite inhibition and mastery off-leash verbal control. (Dogs live off-leash at home.)
• Handling, handling, handling and then, more handling!!!
• Puppy classes should contain pups of all sizes and breeds to prepare them for friendly and confident interaction as adults with puppies and dogs of all sizes and breeds. Owners must be taught to appreciate normal dog-dog interaction and play, otherwise they will become nervous and socialization will likely stop dead in its tracks and the puppies will de-socialize and not develop bite inhibition
• Fearfulness and bullying become more resistant to change as each week goes by and therefore, must be resolved Week One. Fearful puppies need adequate opportunities to interact with slow-moving puppies one at a time (while the rest are being handled), or they need to be moved into a younger class within two weeks. Bullies require non-stop binary feedback while playing and if that doesn’t work, they need to attend an older class or visit the dog park that week. Without prompt resolution, the future social life for fearful or bullying pups looks grim to non-existent.
• Integrate many short training interludes into off-leash play sessions so that sniffing and playing become rewards rather than distractions.
• Following exercises (games) are the very foundation of off-leash control.
• All training tools, especially food lures and rewards and clicks and treats, should be used only temporarily and phased out as soon as possible according to a prescribed weekly syllabus as owners master off-leash verbal control. By replacing food rewards with every conceivable Life Reward, the behaviors will become self-reinforcing and the dog becomes self-motivated.
• Off-leash verbal control (without food lures and rewards) is the Week Six criterion. Objective quantification of response-reliability sets goals and motivates owners with weekly proof of improvement. At the very least, puppies should have been taught an emergency Sit or Down (so that the recall is a given), solid Sit, Down and Stand Stays, Off, Take it and Thank You, and to heel and walk off-leash and on-leash.
Friday: Adult Dog Classes and Consultations
If food and lures and rewards were not phased out early in training, they very quickly become bribes, which adolescent dogs blow off. Similarly, unless introduced correctly, other temporary training tools, such as physical prompts, leashes, collars, halters and harnesses, soon become permanent management tools. Training adolescent and adult dogs requires different techniques to control activity and regain attention before lure/reward training can be used effectively again. This time, phase out the lures within a dozen trials!
• Safety issues — objectively assessing the danger of biting and fighting.
• Play the Bozo Game — Strategies for communicating with owners who think differently. Motivating owners to want to do it your way.
• You can’t do too much Classical Conditioning, even with dogs that are friendly and confident now. Behavior never remains the same; if you work with it, it gets better, if you don’t, it may drift in an unwanted direction.
• Treat & Retreat and other safe methods to teach adult dogs to enjoy human approach, collar contact and handling.
• Putting problems on cue and then yo-yoing the problem behavior with the desired behavior: Jazz-up/Settle Down, Hug/Sit, Pull/Walk (think Malamute!), Woof/Shush, Run Away/Come & Sit. Thus, problems that previously destroyed training are converted into rewards that work for training.
• All-or-None Reward Training (no lures or prompts) is the simplest training technique bar none. One moment the dog is hyperactive and inattentive and the next moment the dog sits and pays attention. A magical technique for increasing all good behaviors, including attention, calmness, shush, stays, and walking on a loose leash.
• Proof rock-solid stays — an emergency Sit or Down plus a reliable Stay prevent or resolve most behavior and training problems.
• The end goal of teaching basic manners is that the dog will respond to verbal commands at times when training rewards are not available, when the dog is off-leash and at a distance and especially, when the dog is distracted.
• How to integrate motivational play into training and how to integrate many short training interludes into games of Fetch or Tug, so your dog loves to come back to you.
• Dance with your dog! — The most enjoyable way to further increase centripetal behavior. (See Sunday.)
Saturday: Training at Home and in the Park
As in … “Please try this at home.” The greater part of pet dog training comprises book, DVD, television and class training. Owners need to learn how to apply these skills at home and in the neighborhood, especially at times when the dog is inattentive, excited, hyperactive, or reactive. So many training routines are simple in theory but decidedly more complicated for owners to implement in real life.
• Classical Conditioning is the name of the game when people visit the house, on walks and during visits to the dog park. It is vital that puppies develop, and adult dogs maintain, their positive associations with people and other dogs. William Campbell’s Jolly Routine was, and still is, way ahead of its time.
• Following exercises (games) at home and in the park will teach your dog to refocus on you. The rules are simple: 1. Keep moving … 2. Away from the dog. Give your dog a reason to want to remain close and follow you.
• Only feed dogs from stuffed chewtoys to autoshape increasing periods of calmness and to decimate the number of daily barks.
• Troubleshooting the feeding time frenzies.
• Training Parties to troubleshoot barking at passersby and teach the dog to quietly observe people and dogs passing by the house (or car) but to bark when people step on (or touch) your property.
• Training Parties to troubleshoot front door greetings with guests to teach the dog to alert when guests enter your property, to sit and shush behind you as you open the front door and to remain sitting (and not jump-up) when greeting.
• Practice long settle-downs with cheese (Big Kahuna) Footballs in preparation for when guests arrive.
• Train your dog in the car before starting the engine and driving off.
• Train your dog on walks and in the park!!! Integrate short training interludes (usually a quick Sit and Watch with occasional longer settle-downs) every 25 yards when walking and every minute or so when the dog is investigating the environment or playing with other dogs. Walking without stopping overloads the dog’s brain, rewards the dog for pulling, makes dogs leash-reactive and prevents classical conditioning. Allowing a dog to investigate and play without frequent interruption causes sniffing and playing to become severe distractions to training.
Sunday: Games & Activities for Engagement & Attention
Games and activities are extremely effective for accelerating learning, motivating dogs and owners, increasing owner compliance (following instructions) and especially for the objective assessment of performance reliability and precision
Learning tricks and playing games rapidly accelerates the speed of learning. Not only do tricks and games motivate both dogs and owners to give their very best performances (quantitatively and qualitatively) but also, tricks and games motivate owners to practice. For some owners, sit-stay homework is not very exciting, but many will stay up to the wee hours to practice for Biscuit Balance or Playing Possum (sit-stays and down-stays). Games motivate dogs and owners to perform better, and to have fun doing it. Playing games generally brings out the best performances in both people and dogs. Owners don’t over-think training when playing games; they just do it and usually, do it very well indeed. Playing training games with lots and lots of rules is the very best way to get owners to follow instructions and succeed.
All tricks/games are designed to improve the quality of the relationship between dogs and their people and each individual game, (including musical chairs, doggy-dashes, retrieval races, woof relays and of course, doggy dancing), is specifically designed to fine-tune essential ingredients of your dog’s training repertoire.
In addition, playing games is an enjoyable and non-threatening way to objectively quantify the reliability, precision and quality of performance. For example, there will be only one fastest recall, only one longest sit stay and only one most appealing Dance routine. However, regardless of comparative rank of performance (compared with other competitors), the most worthwhile reason to play games is for owners to establish personal bests, set personal goals and above all, strive to progressively better their bests from week to week. Games are a marvelous way to teach owners to have confidence in their own training skills.
This seminar will describe all sorts of home, class and event games to quantify and fine-tune basic obedience skills, including attention, position changes, stays, following and heeling as well as precision work.