The Quadrants!

The Quadrants! For those of you who are not familiar with this term, it is used to describe four (not all) of the elements of operant conditioning, which explains how animals, including us, learn.

The quadrants referred to are positive reinforcement, positive punishment, negative reinforcement, and negative punishment. Go on to any dog training group and you will almost be guaranteed to find discussions (often very heated ones) on this topic. You may also see it described as a graphic with four boxes and the terms R+, P+, R-, and P-. I’m not sure who first came up with the term “quadrants”, although I’m pretty sure it wasn’t BF Skinner as I’m hard pressed to find reference to this word in the works of his I’ve looked at. It is a useful teaching aid for learning four (not all) of the aspects of operant learning, but I think it has its limitations and if we want to be better trainers and teachers, we need to understand it’s limitations, what it was designed for and how to think outside these four boxes. If you want to understand these terms, please Google “operant conditioning”. Look for an academic site, I’d link one here, but FB algorithms will kick in and this post might not be seen by many people if they do.

Trainers who train dogs with a progressive, positive mindset, often say they only use positive reinforcement training. While well intentioned, they are wrong. I include myself in this group and I design all of my training choices to weigh heavily in favour of positive reinforcement training, but the world isn’t under my control and other facts will influence the learning of the animals and humans I am working with. What I can state absolutely, is that I will never use certain training tools or intentionally use fear, intimidation, coercion, pain, or discomfort to change behaviour. Other trainers who are willing to use pain, coercion etc, freely admit that they dip in and out of the four quadrants whenever they feel they need to. I don’t hide my opinion on the use of all four quadrants, I think it is unnecessary and counter productive.

A couple of examples…

It’s a hot day and you are working outdoors. You get too hot and decide to take a break and go indoors where it is cooler. Are you adding coolness to your body (positive reinforcement) or are you removing the heat from the sun (negative reinforcement). The answer is both. Both contingencies are al play at the same time. Remember, the natural world doesn’t care about the quadrants, these contingencies are at play regardless of how we (humans) describe them. Does an atom care that it’s an atom or is that the world we have assigned to it to explain its relationship with the world? Similarly, if your dog moves away from a smell they don’t like, are they accessing clean, fresh air or escaping the rancid smell. Both.

Second one. Your dog is uncomfortable around other dogs. We can reinforce the behaviours of being calm around the other dog (positive reinforcement of other behaviours) or we can allow the dog to move away from the other dog if they get closer (Negative reinforcement of the moving away behaviours). Which one would they dog prefer, do you think? Which one is amore ethical option? Which one is less aversive for the dog? I’m very aware at this point that some (many) may jump on this and criticise me or take that I am condoning the use of negative reinforcement protocols. I am aiming to make the training protocol the least aversive, most positive experience I can for the dog. In this second example, I think it would be questionable ethically if I were to deliberately move the dog back to where they were uncomfortable in order to reinforce the calm behaviours by moving away. I’m not suggestion we do that. But there is every likelihood that they dog will have learned that, given similar conditions in the future, they can move away.

Good (ethical, progressive, positive) training is nuanced and needs knowledge of both the theory and how to apply it. There is a human element involved and we need to understand that these human factors, and all the judgements, prejudices, belief systems, world views etc which are part of the human condition, go along with training the animals in our care and influence them. The quadrants are the very start of that understanding and only a very small part at the start. I think these terms should be used only as the start of our knowledge and we should not limit ourselves to the expanse of operant learning by trying to explain everything in 4 boxes. The world, and our minds, are much bigger than that.

Lastly, I can never tell which posts people will find contentious and which ones won’t. I’ve been doing this long enough to realise that this one might, but I’m often surprised. If you are inclined to react immediately to this, please take a moment or an hour to review the information in this post. If you are unsure of any of the terms, please research them before commenting (from an academic source). The world is a very divided and partisan place at the moment, I don’t allow my page to further people being angry, cruel or unkind to each other, there’s already far too much of that as there is. If you really disagree with what I’ve said here, that’s totally cool, you are free not to express that disagreement emotionally on this page.

Love and peace.

Which would you prefer?

When I was a police officer I performed various roles. I did half my service in uniform and half in plainclothes. Two of the roles I carried out were as a public order trained officer and as an foundation undercover officer. Public order cops are what most people refer to as “riot police”. They are the police you see wearing riot helmets, limb armour and carrying shields at public protests. In Scotland, they also have responsibility of arresting VDPs (violent and deranged persons – yes, the nomenclature probably needs updating). As an undercover officer, I was tasked with buying drugs such as heroin and crack, stolen property and an number of other covert policing activities. Both rolls require different skills and the officers applying for these roles are selected and trained quite differently from each other. They are both voluntary roles so motivation (at least at the start of training) is a given, we all wanted to be there.

The purpose of this article is to illustrate how various teaching methods affect your emotions and performance.

Initial training for PO is 5 days. You are taught the tactics, put through your paces (HOLD THE LINE!) and given various scenarios where the instructors give you a hard time by throwing heavy things at you, barricading themselves in rooms and hitting your shield with pick axe handles. It’s all good fun. You then have to requalify twice a year for a couple of days to keep your skills up. You may or may not have been deployed in that role in the interim. On one requalification, they were running scenarios where we had to enter a building and arrest the instructor who was playing a violent person. They asked for volunteers for team leader. I put myself forward and was given the scenario. The instructor asked for my plan and I told him what I was going to do. He acknowledged my plan, told me it was a good attempt and then reminded of a couple of things I had forgotten about. With the additional information, I revised my plan and went to work with the team.

Learning points

  1. My efforts were reinforced. I felt good about volunteering. Everyone else on the course say that my decision to volunteer and my attempt at the plan were reinforced. They would be more likely to step forward for the next scenario having seen that. If they had witnessed me being berated or mocked for getting it wrong, do you think they would be more likely or less likely to step forward on the next round?
  2. Certain knowledge was assumed but it was also recognised that I didn’t know the tactics fluently so I was reminded.
  3. Having been given meaningful feedback, I revised my plan. Having a plan which was safe and effective, I was given the greenlight to proceed. Job done.

How do you think I felt about that experience? Good? Bad? Happy to volunteer next time? Overall, great teaching from the instructors who were running the class.

A few years later, I am on my foundation undercover course. I won’t go into it in too much details but over the course of 8 days, you are put through your paces. Long hours, taxing learning scenarios, being put under pressure emotionally and mentally. The teaching is very different. They want to select free thinkers, people who are dynamic, can react quickly, tactically aware, can think on their feet, sharp witted. Due to these learning objectives, they have to put you through lots of unpleasant situations to see how you will react. Your life could depend on it when deployed, quite literally. The key reminder here is that everyone wants to be there. Every officer on the course asked to be considered for the role. Over a hundred applied, 12 got on the course and only 6 of us passed. But we were all volunteers and we could quit at any time. The instructors also monitor you all the time to see how you are doing and you are repeatedly set up to fail to see if you can spot the traps. All good fun.

One morning, maybe day 2 or 3, we went for our tea break. The classroom was left unlocked and everyone of us left our notes on the desks in an unlocked room. The information we are given is restricted so our notes are now restricted. We had failed to notice this, made assumptions and made the mistake. When we returned form break, all our notes were gone. One of the instructors (who is now my friend), cam in with a black bin bag full of our notebooks and folders. He threw the bag onto the floor, the notes scattered all over the room and then shouted at us to pick them up and told us the reason why they’d been taken. Point made. As the 11 of us (we had a faller on day one) were on the floor, I could see a couple the the younger cops’ faces flash with anger and humiliation. I whispered to them to just take the telling and not show they were upset (I had my own moments through the course too). We got ourselves together and went back to our desks.

Scenarios like the second one littered my career in the police. Being shouted at by our driving instructors for not cleaning the cars to a standard which was unknown to us is hardly fair. Being shown something once and then assumed that you know how to do it and getting sanctioned for getting it wrong. Supervisors not recognising that you make mistakes because you have been working for 16 hours, three out of the last 4 days, not eaten properly or seen your family in that time and then not being aware enough to recognise this may affect your performance.

Given the two scenarios, which way would you rather be taught? Given that you are not training your dog for undercover work, do you need to shout at him or be harsh with him for getting it wrong? Do you assume that he “knows” or that he can perform that behaviour under all conditions all of the time? Can you? People who compete in dog sports might say that these “corrections” prepare your dog for the ring. Do they? Is your dog a volunteer in that scenario the way I was above? Are we doing it because you want to win, because we need that perfect score? How does your dog feel during the process?

I think our dogs deserve us to consider whether we are assuming that they are motivated to do the behaviour and whether they know what we are asking them to do. Surely if they were, they would do it and not need corrected for not?

Living Wholeheartedly with your dog – part 8

Cultivating meaningful work – letting go of self-doubt and “supposed to”.

Many moons ago, a close friend of mine got a summer job working for the parks department while he was studying. He was working with men which, in the West of Scotland, would be described as “bears”. A bear is generally a man in his late 30s onwards who has had a lifetime of hard work, maybe likes the simpler things, maybe likes to drink too much, reads the tabloid newspapers always starting with the sports section, can’t express any emotion, in constantly sarcastic, can be toxic to be around but can also be good company doe to their wicked sense of humour. My friend was reading a novel one lunchtime, maybe John Grisham or Stephen King, and one of the bears asked him about the book. Next week, my friend is reading again at lunch, a different book, maybe a different author. The same bear asks “are you still reading” to which my friend, at 17 years of age, replies, “aye, I’ve not finished them all yet”. Touché. If my friend had taken notice of the inference that “men aren’t really supposed to read” or some iteration of that he may have changed his behaviour. He didn’t let self-doubt or how he was supposed to act in the presence of these men influence his reading. He was bettering himself.

We are playing at the park with your dog and being silly. We receive a look from someone who disapproves of how we are behaving and we stop being childlike in our attitude towards our dog. The relationship suffers. We become less playful.

Thing our dogs are “supposed” to do.

  1. Sit before crossing the road.
  2. Sit before getting out the door[JM1] .
  3. Sit before getting their lead on or off.
  4. Sit before getting out the car.
  5. Sit nice.
  6. Never jump on anyone ever for any reason.
  7. Never chew any of our stuff.
  8. Sleep on the floor or on their bed but never in your bed or on the couch (as I’m typing this, Logan is lying on my bed behind me, gently snoring).
  9. Walk next to your left leg at all time and never waiver.
  10. Not stop and sniff on a walk.

This may seem extreme and many people won’t be that strict with their dogs but some will and many will do some or many of the above points and more will do them sometimes or often. Now let’s adapt that list and instead of saying that our dog is supposed to do these things, change the perspective. These are things we are supposed to be able to get from our dog. If we are supposed to be able to (by whose standard? The “dog behaviour police”?) and we can’t how do we then feel? How do we then act towards our dog. If we act that way, then how does our dog then feel? How does their life change?

I know there are many different philosophies on how to train a dog but let’s say you employ the services of a dog trainer who bullies your dog in some way. I’ve heard accounts from clients whose dog’s have defecated during training sessions with other trainers because the dog is so scared or confused. They said they knew at the time that it wasn’t right but didn’t say anything. The doubted themselves and because they didn’t intervene, they then felt terrible shame afterwards. The flip side of that is that it takes courage and boldness to do so in the presence of someone who is meant to be the expert. That’s difficult but we need to do it.

How do we get round this? We decide what we want for our dogs and why. For me, and what I try to teach, is that all our decisions are for the dog’s welfare. With these in mind, we now train those behaviours in the most positive way we can. This takes effort and knowledge and our dogs deserve that work.

Please let go of what we are supposed to do or be able to do with our dogs. If you feel something is right, do it, if it’s not right, speak up on behalf of your dog.

Final part to come.


Living Wholeheartedly with your dog – part 7

Cultivating play and rest – letting go of exhaustion as a status symbol and productivity as self-worth

A tired dog is a happy dog. Is it?

I have heard that comment many times in my 20 odd years of dog ownership. You need to keep them enriched, engaged, you need to mentally stimulate them, to exercise them, to keep them tired.  I do think we have dogs who are chronically under employed and enriched but I also come across a tonne of dogs who are over exercised, over trained, over walked, sleep deprived. Clients buy “working” breeds and then run them ragged. Tonnes of walking and off lead play around other dogs and on the lead. They end up with no rules, no frame of reference of how they should behave, over tired, the inability to sleep and settle indoors and outdoors. Most of the behaviour problems you see with your puppy, such as zoomies and constant biting, barking and snarling is a symptom of the pup needing more sleep. They are growing and the need rest. Significantly more rest. I interviewed a vet behaviourist I know a few years ago and the doc told me that dogs need 16-18 hours of sleep per day for optimal health. Puppies need more than that. Logan sleeps toward the top end of that every day and if we have had a strenuous day of outdoor activity for two days in a row (and strenuous for him isn’t a lot) then he definitely needs more rest the next day.

Many of us are chronically overworked and sleep deprived. We boast that we can go on 6-7 hours of sleep per day. News flash – you can’t. You are literally killing yourself, knocking years of your life. Chronic fatigue is as bad or worse than smoking, we are just able to do it because too much screen time stimulates our brains into being awake and we top it up with caffeine. If your dog doesn’t have a quiet place to settle in your house and the ability to do so, they will not be getting the sleep they need. If you are exercising them often throughout the day, they don’t get the chance to switch off the same way we don’t through too much time on devices.

How to we play ? Play is actual play – goofing around with your dog, chasing him from one room to the next, rolling around on the floor with him and being silly. Actual play. When I am sparring at Jiu Jitsu with a good sparring partner, you can hear the play. Because we laugh, we joke around, it’s light and playful. Not everyone can do it because competition and fight kicks in. That’s what happens if you are too heavy in your dog. It’s like me having some 120kg 25 year old weight lifting white belt trying to kill me because he doesn’t know who to play and wants to make his mark on the old man. I’m hanging on for life. That’s how your dog can feel if you are too rough.

How do we rest? Can your dog settle? I mean really settle? Do you hear that big exhalation of breath when they lie down? Do you see soft muscles? Do they stretch off fully (up and down dog) when they get up from their nap or rest? And I’m not talking about the stuff you might have seen online where the dog is wearing a shock collar and “stimulated” every time they move from their bed. That’s not rest, that’s a prison. Can your dog sit or lie in a relaxed manner if you sit on the floor or all they all over you? Do they invite play and massage if you do? If not, they are likely bored or over tired. Forensic examination of your lifestyle might give answers.

Your dog needs rest, play and enrichment. Lack of or two much of any of these leads to behaviours we don’t want. Provide her with what she needs.

Love and peace.

Par t 8 to come

Living Wholeheartedly with your dog – part 6

Cultivating creativity – letting go of comparison.

A couple of years ago I posted a short video of me working with a client and her two unruly dogs. A two-minute video which summarised all the information I had gleaned about this woman, her lifestyle, the amount of training time she could do with her dogs, her level of knowledge and ability, her stress levels, her dog’ current learning etc. Two minutes. I had to be creative in my approach to the solutions I could offer her and for her to get the results she needed. The video I showed wasn’t like other training content which was out there and then the “I wouldn’t do it like that” and “Would you not be better…” comments started on social media. I had been creative, worked towards a solution but it was not what others did. If I took those comments to heart, do you think I would be creative next time? If I compared the work the four of us did in that hour to work which other trainers did or do (given that they didn’t have the information I have) do you think I may have acted less creatively?

You are walking through the park with your dog who is going through a particular training issue, pulling on the lead for example and you see a dog walking beautifully with their human on a loose lead. What is your thought process? “I wish we could do that” “I wish my dog walked like that” “Why can’t my dog behave like that?”. Perhaps even more judgemental towards your dog “Why don’t I have a good, well behaved dog?” I think these thought patterns are pretty insidious. Let go of that comparison to others and be creative. Know your path, ask the right questions to get there. We know that having negative thought patterns gets in the way of creativity. It blocks that part of our brain. Comparing your journey to that of others is counterproductive. Don’t do it. Take advice from those you have greater knowledge than you do and reflect on it. Learn. Study. From many different sources not just from one field.

I started looking at tonnes of interactions through the lens of behaviourism. When I started to, I would then notice the little things which people did with each other and their dogs and would put them into my repertoire. It could come from anywhere; film, literature, interactions with a person in a shop, documentaries. As soon as I started opening up my perception to it, I started seeing more. Weightlifting schedules helped my understand how often to train with my own dog and for how long. I also celebrate when my clients have understood the principles of what I have taught and been creative into how they implement it in their lives with their dogs. These are great moments. They don’t compare what they do with what I do, they see the commonality in it and adapt it to their lives. It’s glorious.

Lastly, again, I think shame is the reason why we do compare ourselves to others and one of the s we are not creative. To be creative is to be bold and brave and courageous and to take a chance. And with that, you leave yourself vulnerable to failure, to it not working, to the comments of those on the internet who use your journey to vent their frustrations about their own life. You can’t control what they think, feel and do but you can control what you think feel and do. Quoting Brene Brown again

“Stay awkward, brave and kind”.

Part 7 to follow.

Living Wholeheartedly with your dog – part 4

Cultivating gratitude and joy : letting go of scarcity and fear of the dark.

Lots in this one. What is joy in our lives with our dogs? Where are the joyful moments? What can we be grateful for?

Loving with Logan over the last 4 years has been extremely challenging at times. There have been times where I have been clueless as to what to do to help him, to provide the safety and security he needs when outdoors and to reduce his stress. I had to hit the books, consult loads of trainers and behaviour people to learn and to practice, practice, practice. I also had to learn to accept him for who he is, not for who I want him to be. I am grateful for all of that. He has taught me more about patience, kindness, compassion, empathy and self control than I have learned in a long time. He has truly helped me on my journey towards enlightenment. I thought I was a good trainer before I got him, he taught me to up my game and be better. Much better. I think the universe that he was brought into my life, however challenging it may be.

Where is the joy? We laugh together a lot. He is goofy and playful. His light-hearted pounce on his toys when we are out paying, the way he runs round the flat and bows in front of me and asks me to chase him all make me laugh. He has helped get me through some really dark times. He as the only constant in my life when I was in crisis. I am grateful for the joy he has brought me, helping make me laugh and lighten my darkness when not much else did.

Scarcity. There have been times in my life in the last 4 years where I didn’t know how long his “good” behaviour would remain intact when outdoors. This got in the way of me enjoying those good times. Feeling that way meant I acted a certain way and that was all but guaranteed to bring those good times to a premature end. As soon as I realised this, the good times lasted longer. He is also with me for a finite time. He will be gone (or I will) at some point. I don’t let that affect the present and the times we have just now.

The darkness. I’ll not say much about this but the dark times are there and will pass. Recognise them, accept them and work on making them lighter. Know what they teach you.

Be thankful for your dog in your life, They won’t be here forever. Be grateful for what they teach us. Recognise the joy they bring. That goofiness, that side eye they give you when they think you aren’t liking. The way they deliberately pick their favourite toy and bring it to you. The way they refuse the carrot but will eat the chicken. The way they will only eat a cherry tomato if you burst the skin for them first. The way you experience the early, bright winter, weekend mornings because you have to take them out. The joyful moments are found in the small things, as well as the big moments.

Part 5 to come.

Logan – part 29 – welcome home.

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.

Logan – Part 28 – bad behaviour?

When bad behaviour is preferable to the alternative. Just a short blog today. Yesterday (part 27 we discussed when the barking and bouncing pops back out under certain circumstances.

In the clip below, you see at the very start, he notices something behind us.

In the clip I showed in part 27, this is what we are trying to avoid. But is it always what is needed? When working with him I have sets of behaviours I work towards at all times. These sets of behaviours are dependent on the circumstances we find ourselves in. Here, the dog arrives unexpectedly behind us. As you can see, as I walk off he comes with me, bouncing and barking but on a loose lead nonetheless. Good behaviour under these conditions. Under different conditions, I’d prefer for something else.

When we view short clips of behaviour online, we have the luxury of making assumptions about what is going on. When we are living with a dog like Logan, or your own dog who is showing problem behaviours (let’s face it, they are problematic, we can tart it up anyway we want) it’s never clear cut. Behaviour is always on a sliding scale and it’s always variable.

Here, this behaviour is preferable to the alternative of lunging and barking and pulling on the lead towards the dog. Is this what I want from him long term? No, of course not but it’s still progress. Keeping a view of the progress we are making keeps me motivated to continue orking through the hard times.

Catch you next time, thanks for reading.

Logan Part 25 – BAT sessions



BAT sessions with Logan. Finding the sweet spot where his under threshold and still aware of the other dogs has been and continues to be challenging for us. This morning when we first arrived at the park, there were several other dogs closer than I would have liked for the start of our session.


An off lead dog ran towards us so we ran off in the other direction to give us more distance. I am very cautious of using fast movement when we are training as it increases his arousal quickly and he becomes unable to focus. His ability to recovery is improving so he is able to bring himself down much more quickly after bouts of arousal, whether planned or otherwise.


The first half of our session was faster than I would have liked it to be. He did loads of tracking on the ground and was defintitely searching/scenting, a preferred behaviour to him scanning the environment for dogs, but still too fast and we need to keep working on it. I can tell how he is doing by how hard I am working on the other end of the lead. If I’m working hard, then he’s generally struggling more, if he is relaxed than it’s an easier gig for me too. What’s interesting about this is that I can’t always identify what his fast movement is in response to, the only thing I can identify is that it is about his mood.


In the above and below photos there are snap shots of really nice moments. The black dog approached and kept his distance and they both did really well communicating with each other. I marked and moved and he came with me readily. Great success!


Second half was much better. Loads of scenting, not much need to help him out with food and his movement was much slower and more steady. On the way back to the car, a fella with a Cockerpoo came in, we were about 15m away, he looked and went back to sniffing. Excellent! Getting there.


If you are unfamiliar with BAT, please have a look at Grisha Stewart’s website

for more details

Logan Part 24 – are you with me, lad?

It’s been a while since I’ve written about our journey together but we have been steadily making progress over the last few months.

I was out with him this afternoon and wanted to write down some of the process I have been using with him. The amount of time Logan is with me mentally, emotionally and phusically based on his observable body language vaires depending on what else is going on in the environment. Observable criteria are how much time he spends looking at me, how much he is interested in the food I have, how easily or readily he moves with me when I move off. There are 4 broad categories to this. These are my definitions, you may have your own

  1. He is not with me at all
  2. He is not with me but searching/scenting/trailing the ground
  3. He is scenting on the ground around me and will generally move in the direction I am travelling
  4. He is fully engaged with me, seeking food reinforcement.

There is also variations within each of these as number 1 can vary between him holding himself in position watching (usually another dog) and running around barking (usually when he is really struggling and doesn’t know what else to do)


There are differences in his body language between the image above and below. If you were to look at them on there own, in which one would you say he is more likely to move with me? Noticing the subtle changes in his body gives me information about what I am going to do next. He is not really with me, or connected to me in either of these photos.


In the image below he is moving with me and scenting on the ground. Scenting at the park is good. If he is sniffing in the presence of other dogs, then I know he is more relaxed than if he is watching them. If I  was to move away in the picture below, he is very likely to follow me or to migrate in that direction. We would be moving together, which is cool and desired.


Image below, he’s “with me, with me”. Looking at me, engaged and I am able to ask him to do simple, well practiced behaviours.


Today we were out at the park for around 40 minutes. It was relatively busy but we were able to work at decent distances from other dogs. At this stage, and for a while to come yet, I am really relaxed about what I expect of him. The goal is to have him either scenting the ground for long periods when we are out, or both scenting the ground and enagaging with me when I ask him to. I try to be aware as much as I can that this is his walk and his journey. The objective is calm, relaxed behaviour for the whole (or as much as possible) time we are outside. With this in mind, I do everything I know how and am able to do to help him reach that objective. It helps keep me patient.

In the clip above, you can see him searching the ground for food and looking at the dogs. Look at the quality of how he is looking at the dogs. Relaxed or alert? How easily does he go from one to the other. Is the searching frantic or relaxed?

Lastly, I am also aware of the reasons for him being able or unable to behave at a certain level. Is he eyeballing the dogs because he has just arrived and needs to settle in to his session or can he not concentrate on what I am asking him to do because we are reaching his limit. I have to be mindful of all of these things all the time.

Please think about how you can apply some of these concepts to your own dog.

More to come, thanks for reading and your continued interest in our journey together.

Happy training