December training Tip: Why does it matter?

I received a comment the other day on one of my recent training videos, How to Train a Chocolate Labrador, found on my Colorado Dog Trainer YouTube channel. The question posed was  “Why does it matter if the dog sits sideways especially if it is more comfortable for him?”  This is an excellent question and is in response to my training video, the place where I am correcting the crooked sitting Labrador, and requiring a straight, square sit.

Once I have started an obedience session  “On Leash” with a young dog, I have a very simple set of verbal, hand and whistle commands that I train repetitiously:

Sit, Lay Down, Heel, Come, and Ok.  As a trainer I am watching closely for the instant follow though of each command, that I quickly followed with positive verbal praise and a calming touch rewarding the good behavior.  From this point I am watching carefully for any slight change in body language that I label an escape, or obvious avoidance to the control of the desired command.  I have a list of escapes, deliberate body language displayed by the dog to try to leave or acting as if distracted during training.    My list of escapes includes, but is not limited to:

  • Sitting Crooked – In the sit position the dogs hips are askew. The dog often starts with a straight sit and then rolls to one side as if to ask “Will this do?”
  • Breaking a sit prematurely- The dog in training simply gets up from a sit command and tries to exit stage left.
  • Shaking of the ears – Classic blow off of your commands, “were done right?”
  • Scratching with rear foot – The most apropos time, right after trainers command.
  • aying down while on sit command – Lay down is a great command, but you want to make sure the sit does not evolve into a lay down.
  • Sniffing the ground while on command – We know the dog’s nose works terrifically but there is a time and a place, but that does not include in the middle of dog obedience training.
  • Vocal Whining, avoiding eye contact, and any other deliberate distractions that some how seem more important to the dogs, especially in the beginning of the training session.

Why it matters is because I make progress with my dog training by catching the escapes as soon as they begin and quickly acknowledging the attempt, and reinforcing the correct command.  Recognizing an escape, combined with the timing of the correction and positive praise, is what makes a good dog trainer.  With consistent training all the great escapes disappear. Please watch the following video:

Thanks Talk soon, Ted