Verbal “Clicker” Training

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Verbal “Clicker” Training
Clicker training is both a training technique and a training philosophy and is based on BF Skinner’s theory of Operant Conditioning. In clicker training, trainers use a marker – usually a noisemaker called a clicker – to identify behaviours that they like. Then, after they mark the behaviour, they reinforce the behaviour, usually with a treat. The theory of Operant Conditioning says that reinforced (rewarded) behaviours are more likely to be repeated.
In clicker training the click or marker is a “moment in time” that pinpoints the activity that is being trained. It tells the dog that what he has just done is right and that he is going to be rewarded for it. So, when I see my dog has done what I want him to do, I click at the right moment before giving him a reward. The dog must learn that it is his behaviour that makes the reward come out. He must figure out what he needs to do to make me give him a reward. Read the rest of this entry »

Walking many dogs

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Loose leash walking many dogs
Dogs need daily exercise and lots of it depending on their breed. Walking your dog/s is part of their fitness routine and should be enjoyable to both dogs and their owners. However, walking together, in a group, side by side, human and dogs, is much more of a challenge than just giving them exercise. It requires a special skill that pack leaders need to develop. Walking one dog free, off leash next to you is difficult enough. Doing it with many dogs is something not many owners are able to achieve. But it is a crucial skill that pack leaders need to develop. Read the rest of this entry »

Leading a Pack

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Leading a Pack
Although dogs have been living with humans for thousands of years and in spite of their modern appearance, they still have retained many of the mannerisms of their ancient ancestors. They all display and are capable of reading the same body postures and signals. Their instincts for survival and reproduction are as strong as ever. The strongest, healthiest and cleverest still dominates their pack. They still turn around a few times before lying down even if there are no critters in the grass to chase away. Every member knows its place or pecking order and the alarm giver still barks his warnings. Or so it should be. Read the rest of this entry »

Speed training

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Speed Work
In dog training there is a saying, “The fast dog loses marks slowly but the slow dog loses them quickly.” When two dogs do an exercise such as a “Recall” or “Retrieve” equally well, in my experience, the judge is likely to favour the one that executes the exercise the quickest. Quick sits or downs create a very favourable impression and speed should always be encouraged in obedience training. When a dog runs with speed he will not notice or interfere with other dogs on the way.
However, dogs like people can be very different from each other in that some can naturally do things very fast but others cannot do it as quickly. They can sit correctly but not very fast. We can encourage the dog by reserving our rewards/treats for quick sits. But does the dog understand that the treat was given because he was now sitting slightly faster than the previous time? The dog may not know the difference. Read the rest of this entry »

Abandonment Training

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Abandonment Training
While out on a walk you meet up with another owner coming towards you with her dog walking in front of her. Your dog’s attention focuses on the approaching dog and starts pulling forward. You notice his tail rising above his back, ears forward and his hair rises in two places- on the scruff and just in front of his tail. This is all too familiar. A scrap looms.
You know that you must take responsibility for your dog but what to do this time? Pulling back on the leash in the past has caused more frustration and aggression in your dog. Yelling has no effect. You are embarrassed and frustrated because, “here we go again” the walk is going to be spoilt and you have to fight your dog to avoid a dog fight. Does this sound familiar? Read the rest of this entry »

Desensitisation and Counter-conditioning (CC&D)

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Desensitisation and Counter-conditioning (CC&D)
We know what a pleasure it is to live with a dog that is friendly, affectionate and loyal. Sadly, there are many dogs that react with aggression, fears, phobias and anxiety to people or things in their surroundings and they can be hard to live with. You cannot explain to a dog that his behaviour is going to get him killed or lose the home he is in. Their problems can usually not be solved with commands such as “Sit -stay” to prevent a “fight” or “flight” reaction. What is needed is to change the way they feel about something, to eliminate what causes the emotional response that is so characteristic of their behaviour. Read the rest of this entry »

The Long Down

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The Long Down

042 The Long Down is generally associated with the obedience ring when dogs must hold a down position for periods ranging from two (2) minutes in sight in the beginning and up to ten (10) minutes out of sight at the top level. These stay exercises are, what I call, the “bread and butter” items where competitors, having taught the stays properly, can be assured of full marks. Fifty (50) marks at “C” Level is a “gift” you should never miss.
However, although it is one of the easiest exercises that you can teach your dog as soon as he arrives at home, it is not something I find that owners have attempted to teach before joining a puppy school or club. Puppies are taught to “Sit” but not to stay sitting and they invariably will not have attempted to teach the “Down” command to their dogs. Recently I demonstrated, in spite of distractions, how easily a five (5) month old Jack Russell puppy can be taught to stay down for a while demonstrating that other owners can do the same. Read the rest of this entry »


By admin Posted in Advanced, Bonding, Updated posts / Comments Off on “Pushing”

Pushing is a basic dog training technique that aims to get a greater bond between you and your dog. It not only improves your relationship with your dog but helps him to relax during times of stress. It is the opposite of playing “Tuggy” when the dog’s effort is to move away from you. You get the dog to push against you by making use of his inherent prey drive (food drive) instinct. Read the rest of this entry »

Prey Drive in Obedience Training

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Prey Drive in Obedience Training
Prey drive is part of a dog’s food gathering behaviour which includes hunting and killing. Prey is always on the move, running away in an evasive fashion and often is panic-stricken. This behaviour in turn triggers pursuit, pouncing, biting, pulling etc. in the dog. Prey drive is inborn and is a trainable instinct that can be strengthened or reduced.
Many dog owners acquire high energy dogs as pets. These dogs can be difficult to live with because of a long list of behaviour problems they sometimes have to put up with. Destructive chewing is their most common way of dealing with their pent-up energy. Barking, digging, jumping, escaping and fighting can make matters worse. The physical ability required to handle these dogs properly can be very demanding as well as the fact that aggression in a dog greatly reduces its learning ability in obedience training.
Owners want to have voice control over their dog and also want him to enjoy training and display a willingness to work. Success in this regard depends largely on the owner and not the dog. Daily exercise, long walks, games and obedience classes can help to expend the pent-up energy and can be enjoyable for both dog and owner. Read the rest of this entry »

Working Trials

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Working Trials

Originally Working Trials were based on training dogs for police work, but now Working Trials are purely a competitive sport. They develop and test many canine skills – obedience and control, intelligence and independence, searching and tracking, agility and fitness. Read the rest of this entry »

Taking Scent

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Taking Scent

IMG_0856[1]A dog’s amazing sense of smell is beyond human comprehension. It is an inborn, natural ability. We cannot teach a dog anything about it other than to distinguish certain smells from others and to do it with confidence, correctness and concentration.

The basic Scent Discrimination tests require from the dog the ability to find the handler’s scent on a cloth that is placed between 5 other neutral cloths, also known as “blanks.” Your task is to teach the dog to find the scented cloth you want him to find, and to do so on command. This means that the teaching of scent discrimination now concentrates, almost exclusively, on cloth scenting. (Previously the dog had to find the handler’s article from between up to ten other articles.) Read the rest of this entry »

Jumping and Scaling Obstacles

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Jumping and Scaling Obstacles

“Hup” “Hop” “Over” “Jump”

PGB_2312Jumping and Scaling of obstacles form part of the Agility Group of exercises in Working Trials but In IPO/Schutzhund and in Breed Working trials they are included in the Obedience phase. The main difference between the two is that in the latter these exercises are linked to retrieving a fairly heavy dumbbell over the obstacles and the heights are slightly increased. Read the rest of this entry »

Send Away – Training

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Send Away – Training

“Go” “Away” “Go out” “Voraus”

Goal: The dog must run away from the handler as fast as it can and in a straight line until the command to lie down (or Sit) is given. The dog must immediately respond and hold that position until the handler gives another command. It is a competition exercise in Obedience Class B and C, in working trials and in IPO/ Schutzhund. Read the rest of this entry »


By admin Posted in Advanced, Basics, Problems, Updated posts / Comments Off on Heeling


For the average pet dog heeling is not an important exercise to learn. Yet, one often can find a pet dog out on a walk

being shouted at to “heel” while the owner repeatedly applies sharp tugs on the leash to get the dog to walk next to him.

Heeling is a position with the dog sitting or walking on the left side of the handler. To “Heel” simply means, to “hold that position.”

It is an attention exercise used in mainly two instances:

1) When in traffic, or crossing an

intersection, and you want your dog to pay attention and stay close to you. This is when you will want your dog to, “Heel.”

2) In obedience trails or competitions, when you want to show the judge that you have created absolute attention and

obedience in the required exercises to be performed, you “heel” your dog. Read the rest of this entry »

The Stay Exercises

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You can’t ask your dog for behaviour before you have given the dog the behaviour.” Cesar Milan

The Stay Exercises

The stay exercises in obedience competition necessitates the teaching of three different stay positions as well as the commands, “Sit “ , “Down” and “Stand.”

What the rule book says:

All competing dogs in a class perform each exercise together. Handlers will stand with their dogs in the Heel position until commanded to, “Sit –, down –, or Stand your dogs.” Upon an order from the Judge/Steward the handlers will leave their dogs without further command and will return as and when directed until they are in the place where they left their dogs. They will not command or signal to their dogs or touch them or move against them until the exercise has ended. Read the rest of this entry »

Retrieve: Compulsive Method

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Retrieve: Compulsive Method
The Retrieve exercise, in obedience competitions, requires a dog to “retrieve promptly” at different levels. Firstly an own article chosen by the handler, then a dumbbell and finally any article a judge may decide upon provided it is not glass, food or dangerous to the dog.

The dog must not play with the article or chew on it. He must bring it back to the handler when told to do so, sit straight at arm’s length in front of him, hold the article until ordered to release it and then, when told, return to the heel position.

From the above it is clear that retrieve is not simply a matter of chasing an object and bringing it back. Unless the retrieve is very carefully planned and controlled from the beginning, few dogs end up as reliable retrievers and most have to be forced or compelled to do so. Read the rest of this entry »

Competition Heeling Tips

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Competition Heeling Tips

In my experience, “Heeling” is the most difficult exercise in the obedience ring. In fact it is generally stated that it takes up to two years to get a dog to cope with top level heeling. Competition Heelwork is an art that not many handlers can truly master. The “stays” are your bread and butter exercises for which you must get full marks. Heeling is more demanding. It puts a great deal of pressure and precision on a dog. Thus it can have a negative effect on a dog if not treated correctly as a game to enjoy.
This article is aimed at helping those entering competitive obedience with useful tips to provide the “polish” that can prepare you for what you aim to achieve at a trial or show. Remember, competition is only a test of training, so if the training is incomplete you cannot expect to do well. Read the rest of this entry »

Hyper Overactive Dogs

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Hyper Overactive dogs

Hyperactive dogs are dogs that seem to be in a perpetual state of excitement. They have poor attention span, can be aggressive towards other dogs and have high levels of motor activity usually associated with excessive “panting”. They are virtually in constant motion, bark a lot jumping around and over-reacting to the slightest distraction

Their owners struggle to control their behaviour and often miss-interpret the condition as pent-up energy that needs to be released. They then start a strenuous exercise routine as a solution to calm the dog down. All they do is to create super fit dogs with breathtaking energy levels. The only time they are quiet is when asleep. Read the rest of this entry »


By admin Posted in Advanced, Updated posts / Comments Off on Recall


What the rule book says

The handler will stand at a place indicated by the Judge/Steward. When ready, the judge will order him to leave his dog.  The handler will then command the dog to stay in a “Sit” or “Down” position and will move from the dog as directed. When the handler has reached the place required by the judge he will, on the order of the judge, command the dog to come to him.

In the Beginners and Novice Classes, the order to recall the dog will only be given when the handler is stationary and facing the dog.

In Class “A” the order to recall the dog to Heel may be given at any time after the handler has left the dog and while the handler is moving in any direction except towards the dog. The handler will continue moving until ordered to halt.

The recall exercise can be found in some form or other in every class from Special Beginners to Class “C.” It is obvious then that a correct, fast Recall forms an important part of competition obedience and should be perfected before teaching Retrieve and Scent exercises. Read the rest of this entry »

The Stand

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The Stand

The average dog has little difficulty in learning the sit and down commands but can easily become confused with an order to stand. This is particularly true if the Stand is not introduced at a fairly young age. Because the Stand is taught from the sit, it should only be introduced when a puppy is happy and confident in the sit and down. Read the rest of this entry »

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