A New K9 Behavior Every Day in August

It’s August 1st and I made a decision over the weekend to teach Sanchez and Gina something new everyday during August. Since I retired Sanchez from agility, we’ve started doing more tricks and canine freestyle training. We do this in the evenings and he literally cries and begs to train with me. While I’m sure the treats help (he is a Lab!), I really think he likes being mentally challenged and learning new behaviors. I’ve also noticed that it’s easy for me to get lazy and keep training behaviors that he already knows. But, really, what’s the fun in that? It’s like me sitting down at the piano everyday and only playing what I know. It’s so much more satisfying to learn new music. So, I’ve decided to teach Sanchez something new everyday during August, even if some of it is shaping on the way to the desired behavior.

Sanchez waiting to train with the Staples Easy Button

I took a fabulous clicks and tricks class with Diane Gibbons at Camp Unleashed in June. Even though Sanchez wasn’t with me, it gave me a lot of ideas on behaviors to teach him that we can incorporate into a canine freestyle routine. I also have recently started using the Staples Easy Button to help shape behaviors. Stay tuned for a video of him walking on my feet that I taught him via the Easy Button. It’s also helping us prepare for American Dog Idol at Camp Unleashed Sequoia.

An absolutely fabulous private agility lesson with Sandy Rogers this weekend gave me some new ideas for Gina. We are working on independent weave poles – meaning she will go through 12 weave poles when directed, without her needing me by her side. Although she absolutely loves to weave and is very fast with a steady rhythm, her weak point has been doing weave poles at any venue, indoors or out, and anywhere on the course. While she’s great at them in our indoor facility, that’s not going to help at trials. Sandy gave me great trips for teaching independent weave poles, and I’ll be making it to the field to practice every day when I return from my vacation.

In the meantime, I’ve decided that saying she isn’t good at generalization is my weakness, not hers. If I want her to have consistent behaviors anywhere, it’s up to me to teach them to her. At Sandy’s suggestion, over the weekend we started tugging in a variety of rooms and outdoors. I’ve started at a time when she loves to tug (after eating) with her favorite tug toy. I’ll be adding something new to the mix daily – a different tug toy, a different room, a different time for tugging, gradually more distractions, etc. I’m happy to report that I just took a break, and she tugged outside, with a tug toy we’d never used outdoors, and she kept tugging when the neighbor’s dog came by – usually a big distraction for her.

Gina - agility contact board on piano bench

Tonight, I’ll be taking my piano bench and contact board outdoors to help her learn to touch the target no matter where I run.

Any readers want to take on this challenge with me? What new tricks and behaviors could you teach your dogs daily that would stimulate them while building relationship with you? Thanks for posting your comment and sharing your ideas.

As co-founder of Through a Dog’s Ear, I am offering my readers a free download from our latest release, Music to Calm your Canine Companion, Vol. 3. Simply click here and enter your email address and a link to the free download will be delivered to your inbox for you and your canine household to enjoy.

3 Responses to A New K9 Behavior Every Day in August

  1. Michelle says:

    I would love to join you in this challenge! My pup Piper is bored so easily. I am thinking the weaving would be fun for her. Let me know what else you think of and I will try it as well! 🙂

  2. Lisa Spector says:

    Michelle – Thanks for joining me on this challenge. Dogs that love the weave poles, usually REALLY love the weave poles. Not so easy to teach, so I’d enlist the help of a good trainer.
    I worked tonight on having Gina run ahead of me to the target on a contact board, no matter where I stopped. Worked on a contact board inside, but in a new room.
    Sanchez and I worked on some new tricks in a new room. Really trying to teach him right and left. Will keep you posted.
    I hope Piper enjoyed learning something new today!

  3. Jerry Lake says:

    Stepping back into field dog training with a 5 month old liver GSP, Darcey, a 3yr. Old GSP, Anoch, and two 9yr.old veterans, Brittany Rory and GSP Brant is certainly not for the faint of heart. Obviously each dog has their particular needs and skills…even the puppy. The commonality as a trainer is the importance of being able to establish a sense of trust. I’m a big believer in little to no voice, calming and reassuring touch and being able to read body language and anticipating both success and failure in any given circumstance. In a certain way, I try to develop the natural instincts while creating partnership. I incorporate structure while creating opportunities for these dogs to enjoy what they’ve been bred for.

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