Simply communicate...or is it communicate simply?
Today I got a message through from a client who has been incredibly pro active in training her new pound dog Murphy. The Murph had a few typical rescue type issues such as pulling on the lead, jumping up and was a little reactive in low light situations. Just a bit young and undeveloped and certainly exuberant in his Lab x way.
Our Murph has been a regular attendant at classes as well as his handler seeking out extra curricular activities for him. This dog/ handler team are progressing very well but there have been some inconsistencies as far as Murphs other human and this is creating challenges.
So, back to the message received...
You would be proud of me! Mr X was playing with Murphy and getting him to fetch using the fetch command, but then wanting him to put it in his hand. He kept saying fetch even though that is what Murphy was doing. So i asked him what day it was. He told me. I asked again. Ditto. The third time he got annoyed. So i said that is what you are doing to Murphy. And he got it. We agreed new command - put. Such a simple but powerful illustration
Standing ovation for this lady, brilliant initiative without being confrontational. Simple, succinct and a successful outcome for all. This will then have the knock on effect of Murphs second human getting less frustrated with the dog and having a better understanding of clear communication.
A training exercise to help you with this concept is "Paws Up" and "off".
Use a low stool, box etc and teach your dog "paws up", use free shaping, luring, guiding or what ever combo works for you. Once the dog is consistent with this the teach the second half of the skill "off". This is not a correction in any way, you are not telling the dog off it is simply another skill. Again, luring can work easily for this, lure the dog off the stool and reward when it has 4 paws back on the ground. In this way we now have a clear line of communication to the dog for other situations. Say for example the dog is bench surfing for that meat thawing out..."off".
Done and dusted, no yelling required and no suppressing of the dog so that we can harness that skill at a later date for a complex skill.
We can then teach the dog "paws up" as a greeting if we want it for cuddles or fitting of equipment etc. Then simply "off" when we are done. We control the outcome simply and clearly, we retain consistency and bond.
Other examples could be "speak" and "quiet"...two sides of the same coin. Maybe you are having issues with a thief type dog? "Mine" and "Yours" is a great baseline to create from day one.
How about "inside" and "outside"? If you have a door dasher dog then this is the training exercise for you! So instead of getting frustrated at the dogs non compliance, think about the situation....the whole picture. Are you being clear? or are you expecting the dog to "just know"???
Happy Training Folks!