I was away for most of the month of March. I had the good fortune of being asked to present at the first Animal Training Symposium in Perth, Western Australia. Steve Mann of the IMDT, Sam Turner who is a canine proprioception legend (author of 4 excellent books on the subject) and I presented on a variety of dog training topics over the 16 days. It was a massive success and the attendees were raving about the information they received.
Logan was boarded while I was away and we collected him and Watson on Monday afternoon as soon as we returned. After a fairly relaxing week of training (we pottered away at some stuff, more on that later), I took him to the park this afternoon for his fist session around dogs since we got home.
The park wasy busy (a warm and bright day), loads of dogs and people around. Despite this being the first we’ve been properly around dogs in 5 weeks, we did get a few firsts. No barking on entering the park, as he usually gets excited. We had to move directly into the centre of the park as there was a guy practicing his golf pitching in the area we usually go to. This meant we were a little closer to the path and other dog walkers than usual. We were straight into it, as there was a couple walking three off lead dogs down the path, one of which was a big American Bulldog boy. Logan and him had a few seconds of measuring each other and then they both dissengaged. We then ambled through the open space of the park, looking at other dogs, many of which were running and chasing balls, he did really well. The best moment, and another first, we were 20m away from 6 off lead dogs, he looked at them, sniffed the gound, search for some food which I put down and then moved off when I asked him to. I’m delighted.
One of the behaviours he has done historically when he is stressed is to seek out fallen pieces of wood and chew them. This wouldn’t be an issue in and of itself but he then becomes fixated on them and won’t let them go. Today, he found a stick, picked it up and carried it and when we stopped, lay down to chew it. I marked and reinforced every time he let it go (again, more on this later as it’s something else we’ve been working on). When he was chewing it, it wasn’t done with the same frantic energy which I have previously observed. When the time came, he was able to leave the stick, there wasn’t much left though, and come back to the car with me.
All in all a great session. One period of a few barks, loads of much lower intensity behaviour around dogs then before, more col body language and loads of interaction with me.
Great stuff. The journey continues.
Hi Folks, I have released a book and it is available over the weekend for £0.99 and $0.99.
If you go on to Amazon in your counrty and search “John McGuigan” you should be able to find it. Available in paperback and kindle versions.
In each of the two clips, I give the same verbal cue for the behaviour “Twist”. Same word, same volume, smae intonation. In the first clip, I give Logan a piece of cheese or meatball for spinning anti-clockwise, on cue when I ask him to. So far so good.
In the second clip, I use a short game of tug as the consequence for correct behaviour, using exactly the same verbal cue as before.
What you’ll notice is that the spins in the second set are faster, tighter and performed with more gusto than the first set. The beauty of consequences.
Consequences drive behaviour, not cues, commands or signals. I give exactly the same cue to Logan each time, the difference in the performance of the behaviour is what happens after each rep, that makes the next one fast or slower than before.
How this applies to your dog. You do not need to scream “DOWN!” or “COME HERE!” at the top of you lungs, if the dog can hear you, he can hear you. What you need to do to get fast recalls is throw a PARTY! for your dog after they do the correct behaviour. After, not before. After, after. After.
I’ll repeat, consequences, not cues or commmands drive behaviour. Consequences.