Training helpers (also called “decoys” or
sometimes “stooges”) can be invaluable in training your dog. They are
there to bridge the gap between initial training phases and “real world”
training. The real world involves things you can’t control, but since
you can to some extent control your decoys, they can provide a great
Here’s an example of one way decoys can be used to help.
Let’s say you are training your dog not to jump
up on people when greeting. You practice the routine – turning away when
your dog jumps, rewarding with attention when it remains standing with
four feet on the floor.
Group classes can be great – practice with high
distraction levels, learn new tips and techniques, usually save a lot of
money vs private training – but some people and dogs really struggle
with group classes. Too much downtime, not getting clear information,
the group is at a much higher or lower level than your dog is… all of
these can really interfere with the group class experience. Here’s how
to get the most from group classes!
1) Look at your dog.
Training outings (taking the dog out for training practice somewhere other than your home0 can be one of the most fun parts
of dog training! They can also be really helpful for all your long-term
goals. Here’s how to plan and make the most of a training outing.
Determine your goals for the outing.It’s
best to pick 2 or 3 things to concentrate on for each outing. That way
you can really focus on what your dog needs! Things you might choose to
focus on could be loose-leash walking, polite greetings to people,
obedience in distracting locations, “settle” at a café, etc.
When dog trainers talk about “mechanics” we are not talking about people who fix cars!
“Mechanics” refers to the actual physical things
that you do when training or handling a dog. Which direction are you
going? Where are your hands and arms? Where is your face looking? Are
your movements predictable or unpredictable? What is your facial
expression like? All of these things are really important!
Often when you see good trainers at work, you do
not notice any of this because the complete picture is fluent.
What kind of training equipment you choose will
effect your relationship with your dog – both your training
relationship, and your overall relationship. There’s no such thing as a
“magic” piece of equipment (usually. Sometimes certain pieces of
equipment will seem like magic on a certain dog, but each dog will be
different and will react differently.)
First things first; you’ll start with a collar or harness and a leash.
What kind of collar or harness?
For very tiny dogs, they usually need to have a harness.
“He only listens to you!” is a complaint that
almost all dog trainers hear from time to time. It can be frustrating to
see your dog perform brilliantly for somebody else, and then become a
hot mess when you take the leash. Many owners even think the dog is
doing this on purpose, maybe to “get back at” them for some perceived
Nope; the cause is usually much simpler! And preventable!
Here are some of the most common reasons.
- You weaned off treats too quickly.
Trainers don’t mind doing a lot of treat rewards for a looong time,
because the more you train with treats, the more solid a behavior gets.
Some of you are in an interesting spot right now –
your dog knows all the things and can do them, but is still very young
and inexperienced, and often needs a lot of help from you, or can do
things but not perfectly, or can do things but you can see it is still
hard for them. Of course for these dogs you will help them and continue
to teach them, but over time you want the to have less reliance on you,
to do more things quicker and without reward, and to be steady, solid,
experienced, and calm in most situations – maybe even enough for a child
or older adult to take the leash and be able to have control.
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.