My Life with Dogs #18

“Friends: I don’t know if you have been reading my blogs about My Life With Dogs…or if you might be “jumping in” with this being your first exposure. If so, WELCOME, you are hitting the right time as this is where I begin to talk about my training technique, known as The Famed Method of Dog Training.
As you read along you will quickly come to realize that I am of the old school in training dogs. Or maybe, if you have been to any training schools in the past five years, reading my method will be ‘new’ to you. I’ll talk about the differences later, but for now, again, welcome! If you have time, reading my former blogs will bring you up to date.
The basis of my training method falls into five categories, or lessons…sit back and enjoy.” John

Lesson number one: You must first get your dog’s attention.

     With that said I let Dodger lunge for Tagore while at the same time I take off in the opposite direction with the lead held firmly in hand. Timing has to be perfect for this training exercise to work. On this particular day, Dodger was airborne in his attempt to grapple with Tagore. Then the lead tightened and jerked his body back towards me. At times this movement elicits a yelp of surprise from my “victim.” In a friendly voice I called to him. He came. I patted him on the head, told him to stay, and dropped the leash. He didn’t move and I had everyone’s attention.

“When is obedience needed,” I ask again.

“During time of distraction,” I answer my own question…but this time everyone knows exactly what I am talking about. This is a wonderful training exercise and you too can use it as an effective measure to get your dogs’ attention. If, when walking your dog, he begins to drift from your side, turn and take four or five driving steps in the opposite direction. Do this every time his attention drifts. You’ll see a dramatic change in control. Before long he will be standing or sitting at your side ready to anticipate your next move…and you’ll begin to look forward to walks in the park with him.

Through the years my three kids have enjoyed wagering as to how long it would take me to get control of an unmanageable dog. Never has it taken me more than 45 seconds. And in every case the mutt in question would end up at my side, watching me intently, his tail wagging with anticipation.  No treats needed!!!

Please remember this; it is important to the extent that it will be noted more than once in this book: Firm corrections will solve problems quicker than feeble ones. Further, they are more humane, more impressionable, and place you where you belong…in the position of unquestioned and substantial authority.  I must tell you, there is no place for political correctness in training a dog the stop from pulling his master around the block every time they go for a leisurely stroll in the park.  I see it all the time in my small town and the look on the faces of the masters is always embarrassment, as if he is saying, “what am I supposed to do?”

Note: When it comes to obedience training, your dog has three levels of awareness:

Level 1) all disruption and distraction fights for his attention. Squirrels in the park, other dogs, kids on bikes, airborne Frisbees. His awareness of new and unusual happenings bombards his psych and he tries to watch everything going on around him. You are lucky if you are one of those distractions.

     Level 2) disruptions and distractions around him are a cue for him to pay attention to you. This awareness kicks in about the third week of obedience training. We want him to view all aspects of a convoluted world in regards to you, his master…when on, or eventually off, lead.

     Level 3) the absence of disruption or distraction (you are waking in the park and nothing is going on) is the cue for him to watch you. This is the ultimate awareness we seek through obedience training.

Here’s an example of the difference between level 1 and level 3. You’ve seen it many times when you go for a walk in the park.

Level 1: The dog is at the end of the lead, lunging at passersby, squirrels, and joggers; totally oblivious to his master’s every pleading.

Level 3: The dog walks at the heel position beside his master…off lead…keeping an eye on his master’s every move while also aware of the world around him. Or, you see a dog running loose in the city park, but you note that he is constantly looking back towards something. He sees a squirrel, but then looks back; he tracks a scent; but then looks back. And then you hear a faint whistle and the dog makes a bee line to his master who has been walking 50-yards behind.


WHAT I’VE LEARNED: Mr. Tuck, by the way, had taught me one of the preambles of dog handling. “It’s not how often you will get bitten, its how bad”…and my time was on the horizon.

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