What does “Real World Dog Training” mean?
Well to me it means that when you are out and about, your dog will walk with you without displaying any behaviours that would make you less likely to invite your dog along next time. It means when you stop to talk to a friend, your dog will sit or lay down and wait patiently whilst you have a chat, even if there is a dog 2 metres away, even if there is a loud truck driving by, even if you don’t have a hand full of food or are not pretending you do with a hand signal that mimics that you have food.
Often when someone has a problem with their dog, they may try an Obedience Club, and this can be where the mistakes become terminal. Obedience Clubs (some) are great for socialising your dog and training Obedience at a hobby level, I do not think they are the platform for training your dog for the “Real World”, and many Club Instructors agree with me on this.
When I train for performance, I primarily use my Training in Drive System, a highly motivational and technically driven instinctual program and it works extremely well for dogs that compete in dogs sports such as ANKC Obedience, Rally, Agility, Flyball, Herding, IPO etc. but I don’t use it to train dogs to walk down the street chilled out.
I think there is a great many people out there that don’t consider at all what state of mind the dog should be in at what times, for example if you leave your house and your dog is super excited about getting to the park, he or she will likely pull on the leash, jump and lunge at things and be impatient if you don’t get to the park as per the dogs expectations. So it makes total sense to help your dog develop a state of mind that will equal the outcome.
A program I wrote for my puppy development program is a very good example if this; I observe that a lot of people arrive at a park, reach down to their dog that is super excited and un clip the leash from the collar. It takes no time at all before any time you take the leash off the collar the dog explodes into the distance.
Now sometimes when you arrive at the park you observe somethings that cause you to hesitate or not take your dog off the leash because you know that your dog will race off into the park, and for what ever reason you don’t want that today.
So here is how I tackle this with a puppy, I arrive at the park for the first time, and I have my treat pouch loaded with nice food and I get my puppy out of the car. I reach down and un clip the leash with my left hand and I give my pup a release cue “yes!” or I click my clicker and the puppy spins around to look at me and I give the food reward.
As I give the food reward I attach the leash again.
I let my puppy lose interest in me and then I reach down to the collar again and I make it obvious that I un clip the leash, and as soon as I do I mark “yes” again and food rewards come out.
Repeat – repeat – repeat and go home.
I am setting the message that, as soon as I take the leash off I want the pup to engage with me, right?
As time goes on I notice as I am reaching down to take the leash off, my puppy is anticipating the food, good, now its time to raise the bar. I unclip the leash and I don’t mark “yes”. The puppy expects food so it gives me hard eye contact and then I mark “yes” and deliver reward.
I will get to the point that when I get to the park the dog will not leave me alone! Now see I don’t have a dog that gets to the park and runs off, because I taught the dog there is reward available from me first. When this has been rewarded many times then dropped back to an intermittent reinforcement rate, meaning you will reward sometimes not others, it will be hard wired into your dog and your dog will act the same all the time.
The dog is the winner here and so are you.
When I am not starting with a puppy, the dog will undoubtedly have learned some behaviours that are rewarding to him but not rewarding to me, this is where the problems come in. Some people address this in a way that simply distracts the dog away from the behaviour, but this often wont work unless you have impeccable timing, carry food or a toy on you all of the time or except a lot of failure.
Others will just never let their dog near this type of distraction again and call it fixed. I don’;t know about you but I call that avoiding the problem, and whilst even I would advise avoidance until our program takes off, I don’t personally thin k it is a long term solution.
And just for the record and to get any questions out of the way, here are some facts: –
He will grow out of it – no, dogs don’t grow out of behaviour problems they grow into them.
He is not aggressive, he is reactive – if a dog wandering down the street sets him off, he isn’t reactive, he is starting it.
I’m just looking for that magical piece of dog training advice that … – doesn’t exist. Find someone who you can trust, do the work, really try.
There is nothing that can be done – actually the world of Dog Behaviour advances everyday, you can’t say that.
My dog is dumb – He is smart enough to make you let him do as he likes.
I can’t do it – This is possibly true if you change the word “can’t” to “won’t”.
Real World Dog Training is about getting the dog to be with you in the real world, your every day life, and not creating havoc everywhere you go nor playing tricks to fool your dog into thinking your going to throw the ball or give him food.