15 Minute Wonder Dog Training

So many people try to set hours aside for training, spending too much time on long classes or one to one training hoping this will solve the problems their having. (Yes one to one training isn’t the be all and end all of dog training! And yes I am going to give you other ideas to work on away from the dog trainer).

Putting too much work in, can reap the same results as putting in too little. A dog who is confused, unsure and doing it’s own thing.

If your doing intense training for more than 15 minutes stop! It’s too much for you and your dog.

Training for long periods of time, more often than not, end up being a hindrance to your over all goal. So many people think they have to implement some sort of training time into their day as a block, trying to teach a brand new behaviour in one go and get frustrated when things start right, then all go to pot. Then they decide to finish the session on a “Win” which is rewarding an easy behaviour.  NO. You have basically just taught your dog to get frustrated and only focus on what it can do, not try to learn new things.

Training should be a fluid part of your day with your dog, practising intense training in short bursts during the day. Dog’s are context specific and can learn to do certain behaviour, only only certain places. Which is why many dogs are perfection at training classes and crap at home or on walks. Training at home or at the park is fine, but training can be all for nothing if your dog won’t listen when it counts, like in the car, at a cafe or other people’s houses.

If you want your dog to listen on walks, then they need to listen without distractions first, and then when there are distractions. It’s all building blocks to the main goal. Building up that concentration on you. Rewarding attention, and inviting it in short bursts will help out and about, it teaches your dog to interact with you any time, not just at the park or in the house, or when on a lead. So many owners attempt to force attention, when it should be something all dogs do naturally. Over training is a reason dogs loose focus on their owners and learning, as they get bored, just like us. If short training sessions are rewarded, and the attention is always on you then the attention is going to come to you, not the environment when out.

Training should be part of your day in short bursts, no more than a few minutes long.

  • Washing the pots? Get that sit stay on track.
  • Need to clean the car? Practice the settle in it.
  • Neighbours walking their dog?  Follow behind them practising focus training.
  • Going to a friends house? Recall training in a strange house.

Add into your life what you want, but add it in non the less. What ever you want to work on or what ever opportunities appear use them.

Also don’t forget about what your dog wants from life, yes training can be fun but forcing it is not, and can lead to a dog trying to get away from you, or less learning. Do the training in the garden, and then let them play! Let them romp about and throw a toy, do something they love to do as well. Finished washing the dishes, blow some bubbles for them to chase as their reward for sit staying.

Even better after training get them to have a nap or sleep session (Especially important for puppies!)

The basic message is that you can and should be training everywhere, working on everything with your dog. In a fun and relaxed manner where you achieve your goals easily, rather than forcing yourself and your dog, and ended up failing. It is also a reminder that the excuse “I haven’t got time to train my dog” is a null point, you have time to be on facebook or read this, then you have time to train your dog. Too many people give me that excuse and I always call them on it. I work full time training, have 5 dogs plus what ever rescues in, plus a life and I have time for dog training, so why can’t you?

You might think, “Well Kathryn your training sessions with owners are always an hour or more long” …yes they are, but I’m not training your dog. I’m training you to train your dog, training you to find the things that make your dog tick and want to work with you. There is no point me doing the work, I’m exciting and new of course they will interact with me! It’s up to you to do the training, not me, I don’t own your dog or have to live with it, you do. So be the most exciting thing in your dogs life. If your dog is utterly overjoyed with guests or other dogs, so much so that your dead to them, you might have  a little problem… learn to become the most exciting thing in your dogs life by teaching them new things, and how rewarding it is to interact with you.

Set your self a small challenge to get your dog to sit stay when your back is turned, and stay there while you boil the kettle or make a sandwich. Then tell me how hard it is, and how much training will be needed to get it. A few short sessions and you’ll have it, over do the training in one large chunk and it’ll all go pear shaped. Go on try it.

Set yourself achievable goals for training, and then set off to achieve them.

The bond between you and your dog will grow with the more successful training you have with them. Repetition of the wrong thing, or the same thing is about as interesting as it is for us, teach dogs new things and they will thank you for it.

Kathryn Jones FdSc AAB
A Clever Approach to Dog Training and Behaviour

It’s Never a Blank Canvas in Dog Training

When people take on a dog, be that a puppy, rescue or re-home, they know their is work to do with any dog,  no matter the age, or breed.

Many people assume that a dog that is a “Blank Canvas” with no training, such a a puppy or rescue dog will be easy, assuming that the dog has no knowledge of it’s own. These owners then get frustrated with the dogs do things wrong, or don’t quite understand what your on about. Some owners are well aware of challenges ahead, but aren’t willing to change their plans to suit the dog.

No dog is a blank canvas, even an 8 week old puppy just leaving the breeder, can have as many marks, rips, tears and stains as a well used artists canvas. Breed traits, genetic selection and health issues.

Think of each dog as an artists canvas, every artist wants to start with a crisp clean canvas, with no marks, bumps or tears to interrupt the image you want to achieve. The image will set in your mind. The canvas you want to paint on unfortunately has a tear in it, or some black spots in the corners, and spot where the colour will seep and not sit still. These blemishes make it harder to achieve that image in your mind, and might result in you changing your end image to work round them. Some people will work over them, attempting to cover them up, others will incorporate them into the image and others might choose to remove attempt them all together.

These blemishes are traits in dogs, breed traits, learned behaviour from previous home, learning in your home, genetic issues and health issues that can all stand in the way of that idealist training plan in your head. These things have to be worked with, or trained out of the dog in order to achieve these goals, sometimes these things can’t be changed as they are part of the dogs personality. These things are not just in rescue dogs with issues, they are in puppies, and dogs without any training. Picking the wrong breed for the wrong home or job can result in conflict, which would mean a spoilt canvas. An example would be choosing a heading breed to do a retrieving job, while many can do it, it goes against their genetics, and this leads to conflict. The training, relationship and dogs behaviour will need tweaking as well as your own behaviour towards the dog, it will always be hard work to achieve the image you desire when your fighting against the blots, tears and dots all over the canvas attempting to make it the image you want, not the image it could be.

The medium you the artist uses can also influence the image, using watercolours on the wrong paper will make the image muddy, and colours tainted. Using acrylics and oils together might not work, adding in mixed media to the mix will result in a very wishy washy image, that might not be true to what you want. Adding in felt pens on the top, or changing from biro to coloured pencils will mean the image will be shaky til the new image comes through. Using water colour on the right paper will result in the best image, but you can add in biro over the top, or masking fluid to make it evolve.

These mediums are training methods, you will have a certain idea on how to train, or what training you will use, but understanding the dogs as an individual is the best way to go forward. Some people know how to use water colours best, but having a dog that is more of a oil paining you are going to clash on everything, as it just won’t work. Both evolving and working on the canvas with acrylics will result in that image you want, but only slightly changed from your original mental image.  These methods can be purely positive, all negative, a mix of the two or off the wall, I am not here to talk about training methods but different things work for different owners, and dogs.

Essentially it is fool hardly to assume a dog is a blank canvas, and you can create an image with all medium. Previous experiences, breed, your knowledge and experiences can change the way the image turns out. Whether you want a dog as a companion, working dog or sports dog you need to understand the image you want, and be willing to change it or edit it to suit you both.

I have learned to edit the way I work with dogs, and owners to achieve the goals we set. Each dog I work with teaches me something about dogs, and dog training. All knowledge that teaches me to work or repair my canvas. Sometimes we need to tweak the goals or look at getting the right dog for the owner. I have changed the mental goals with my own dogs dependant on the breed, experiences, new knowledge and the circumstances.

“No Dog is a blank canvas, they all have their rips, blemishes and patches. It is up to you as the owner to choose the right medium to pain the image you see for you both”

Basically stop blaming your dog for problems, and start looking at what your working with in terms of your dogs breed, history and temperament. Work outside the box and start adapting to create the piece of art.

Kathryn Jones FdSc AAB NTIPDU/MGoDT

A Clever Approach to Dog Training and Behaviour