Training - Part 2
By Cynthia Nogar
- Have your dog standing in front of you, on or off lead.
- Hold a treat in your right hand in front of the dog,
momentarily a few inches in front if its nose, then move the treat up and a little over
your dogs head, causing her to raise her head and her rump to fall into the sit position.
Give the command 'sit' as soon as she starts to lower her rump.
- Immediately give the pup the treat as soon as it's rump
reaches the ground, stand up and return your hands to your sides.
- If the pup is too rambunctious or backs up instead of sitting
when you raise the treat, you can start by placing her on the couch and kneel to the side,
repeating the exercise with the treat in your left hand and using your right hand resting
on her rump to keep her from backing up as she looks up toward the treat.
- Place your dog in the sit position and take your place next
to her so her shoulder is aligned with your left hip. AKC regulations require dogs to
remain in line with the handler's left hip throughout the exercise, including on turns.
(See enclosed picture)
- Your leash should remain loose throughout the exercise. Let
it hang down about 11/2 to 2 inches before the leash curves up toward your right hand. You
will use the leash to tell the dog where heel position isn't by gentle corrections such as
a tug--not the traditional popping jerk of the compulsion methods. You will be showing the
dog where heel position is through treats and praise.
- Hold the treat in your left hand. You can either lean over
and hold the treat in front of the pups nose as you give the command to, 'heel', or you
can place the treat on the end of a 1/2 inch dowel rod and hold it in front of the pups
nose. (If you use the dowel rod, accustom the pup to it prior to using it in training, and
remember, it's a training aid, not a chew toy so don't allow the pup to play with it.)
- Walk forward, holding the treat in front of the pup with your
left hand and using your right hand to tug gently on the lead to keep the pup in position.
You can also use your voice to make sounds of praise when the dog is in heel position,
repeating, 'Good heel.'
Stop after only a few feet when the dog is successfully in heel position,
give the treat and praise.
- Eliminate distractions in the environment, especially moving
objects, other dogs, and noises.
- Stand with the pup sitting next to you on your left side. The
treat is in your right hand.
- Give the command, 'stay', then step out a step with your
right leg, keeping your left leg in place.
- Before the pup starts to move, step back into your original
position and give the dog the treat immediately with verbal praise.
- Gradually increase the distance you move away from the dog,
initially immediately returning and treating the dog, then standing facing your dog and
gradually lengthening the amount of time you take to return.
- You can introduce the hand signal after the first few lessons
by leaning over a bit and slowly but purposefully move the flattened palm of your left
hand in front of the dogs nose while saying 'stay'. Avoid swinging your hand into your
dog's face or striking your dog's nose.
- I've found avoiding eye contact when standing facing the pup
lessens the incidence of them getting up and coming toward you while on stay. This also
seems to be an exercise many over train and end up with dogs rebelling and refusing to
remain in position for any length of time. Once I'm sure the dog has learned the exercise,
I've had good success practicing sit or down stay at home only once a week for half the
time required in obedience trials. The pup gets a weekly practice of the required time or
longer in class.
- Place the pup in a sit.
- Walk about four feet away and turn to face the pup.
- Pause a moment, make sure your dog is looking at you, then
lightly and playfully say 'come' while either backing up several steps or actually turning
and running a few steps to encourage the dog to begin moving toward you. As the dog
approaches, reach your hand down behind and between your knees with the treat in it. (You
have to bend your knees a bit to do this. Practice without the dog around so you can
smoothly do the sequence in training.)
- The dog will come right up in close to get the treat and may
or may not sit (doesn't matter). Immediately give the treat and praise playfully.
- After the first few sessions, when the dog is comfortable
coming in close to get the treat; you can add the command to 'sit' before giving the
- Avoid using the 'come' command or calling your dog in the
house or yard when the dog can choose not to come for at least the first year of it's
You never want the dog to figure out it has the
option of refusing to come when called. I use the command 'inside' when calling dogs into
the house from the yard (training with treats as described) and reserve 'come' for the
recall and emergency situations.
- Place the pup in the sit position in front of you with you
kneeling or sitting cross-legged style.
- With the treat in either hand, move it from directly in front
of your dog's nose down to the ground, ending with the palm of your hand flat on the
ground over the treat. The pup should follow you on down. The moment the pup starts to lay
down, give the command 'down'. Reward with the treat and praise as soon as the pup is
lying on the ground.
- If you find #2 entirely unsuccessful, you can start in the
position described in #1 and come from the side and lift the pups front legs off the
ground, then lower the pup into the down position while giving the command to 'down'.
Treat as soon as the pup is in the down position.
Many dogs actively resist and resent having
to 'down' on command. Keep your tone of voice light and avoid a wrestling match. Your dog
should be accustomed to you handling it by this age, and also be accustomed to the
learning process by this stage in the training. I continue to treat more frequently for an
immediate 'down' than any other exercise, resulting in a Cairn that drops immediately on
command and actually wags her tail sometimes while in the down position, knowing she has
dropped well and a treat is likely coming at the successful completion of the exercise.
I wish you the best of luck in your training
endeavors. Obedience training doesn't have to take up a lot of your time and can be a fun
way for you and your dog to spend time together. Always remember to maintain a sense of
humor, you know your Cairn will!
RESOURCES IN PRINT
(This is intended to be a springboard for further learning
and is not an exhaustive list or an endorsement of those books listed. I was surprised to
find more than a few of these at my local library.)
Cecil, Barbara & Darnell, Gerianne, COMPETITIVE
OBEDIENCE TRAINING FOR THE SMALL DOG
Donaldson, Jean, THE CULTURE CLASH
Handler, Barbara, SUCCESSFUL OBEDIENCE HANDLING,
The New Best Foot Forward.
Lewis, Janet R., SMART TRAINERS--BRILLIANT DOGS
Pryor, Karen, DON'T SHOOT THE DOG!--The New Art of
Teaching and Training, and, A DOG AND A DOLPHIN 2.0
Weston, David, DOG TRAINING--The Gentle Modern Method
ON THE WEB
(Except for the AKC site, these are all sites that list
several links for obedience training. Again, this is not intended to be an exhaustive list
or an endorsement of those sites listed.)
AKC Obedience Training
American Dog Trainers Network
Dog Obedience Training Central
Dog Patch Dog House
This page has been visited times since October 26, 1998
This page was last March 30, 2002
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