One of my loves is trick training. Who doesn’t love a great dog trick? It just lights up the whole day.
I’m not sure why people see a strict divide
between “tricks” and “obedience.” The dog likely makes no such
distinction. It’s responding to cues either way. In fact, in many ways
tricks are harder – they are often more technically difficult to teach,
they may involve more steps, and they are frequently more physically
difficult for the dog. Think of “roll over” vs “down” and “sit
pretty/paws up” vs “”sit.
A lot of you are working on loose leash walking! Gotta
admit that the KP system for training this is a little complex. But it
is absolutely worth it!! There are lots of different methods for
training leash walking, and trust me, I have tried them all. In the end
I’ve come up with what I believe has the very best results.
Here’s a reminder/list of terms/concepts that go along with the official KP loose-leash walking!
“Here”:Verbal cue for your dog to get into
walking position (on your left side.
Eventual off-leash control may be in the distant
future for a young dog or a dog new to training, but even as you start
work, it’s helpful to have it on the radar. Some of the “off-leash”
lessons can be implemented early and some “off-leash problems” can be
prevented if you keep it in mind even during early training.
At the core, off-leash control is about attention to you. It isnotsimply having the dog respond to obedience commands when it’s not
wearing a leash. After all, on an off-leash hike it’s things like “stick
around,” “check in with me,” “don’t go too far” that will have much
more importance than things like “lay down” and “sit-stay.
Believe it or not, one of the best ways to both
improve your training and figure out how to solve problems or areas
you’re stuck – is video.
Video! Don’t be shy (no one but you has to watch
it.) Set up your phone or small video camera, get your dog and go for
just a short training session. Then review it. During training, we are
(hopefully) so focused on the dog that we might not notice things that
become glaringly obvious by just taking a step back and looking at the
Especially when you’ve got a new puppy or are
working on a major training project, it often feels like you’ve got a
ton of different training projects going all at the same time.
Leash walking! Distraction proofing! Both the
introduction of new skills, and review of the old ones! If your dog is
having problems with anything, you also might have behavior protocols to
work through. There’s just so much stuff to do!
How do you keep this all straight? How do you
know what to prioritize?
As lots of you know, I get to do the dog bite prevention trainings
for the Portland division of the U.S. Postal Service. Once a week my
formerly-retired pit bull Charlie and I show up at the large downtown
branch, weave through the long corridors filled with postal equipment,
and then chat for an hour to new mail carriers on how they can keep
themselves safe and prevent dog bites.
Dog bites are
unfortunately common to mail carriers. And to everybody else. Could your
dog possibly be at risk of biting someone?
Ah, New Years. I like the new year; it’s a great
time to really check in as to how things went last year and what you
want to do this year. Like everyone, I set goals, including dog-related
goals, that are usually hit-or-miss on whether or not I get them done.
But here are some things I’ve noticed are helpful in making resolutions
that tend to get kept instead of ditched.
Set your goals as “steps,” not final outcomes.
For example if my goal was to get a Parkour title
this year, instead of the overwhelming “Get a Parkour Title this year” I
could list out the following goals: 1) Train the novice-level Parkour
Here's what I really want to stress to you guys: Training really
needs to take place outside of "the heat of the moment." The heat of the
moment is when your guests are walking through the door and your
puppy's jumping all over them. It's when you accidentally drop a
sandwich on the ground and your dog runs over to grab it. It's when you
decide to go hiking with your dog who hasn't been on a leash in two
years because he pulls so hard. It's basically any time when you realize
that your dog either hasn't been trained how to do something, or
training is failing at that moment for whatever reason.
You know what’s valuable to dogs? What dogs really, really love? Training sessions. If you’re doing it right, most dogs loooove training sessions. The toys come out, the treats come out, you show up ready for fun and action, the dog gets to exercise its brain and hopefully win a lot of treats. In fact for many dogs, the daily training session is one of the highlights of the entire day!
You can use your dogs love of training sessions for many things that will further reinforce your dogs obedience and manners.