Friday, January 27, 2012

National Train Your Dog Month- Progress!

This month we have been in training. Okay, technically every month my dogs are in training for something, but this month was on purpose!  I specifically wanted to raise to the challenge and join Something Wagging This Way Comes for National Train Your Dog Month.

Our challenge?

Find a way to stop Parker and Skye from rushing up to other dogs when they're off leash.  Some places we visit are more like dog parks- there are always dogs running up to you and everyone is cool with it.  Other places are more formal, and a barking-grumbling-freight train of a pit bull doesn't go over well.  Sure, I could just leash them, but the idea is that they get to greet the dog off leash once they get to us.  I'd rather teach my dogs to hold themselves back than have to do it for them.  Especially Skye, who likes to walk ahead of me at all times.  Of course Skye only runs up to greet when Parker goes first.  Ah the joy of having multiple dogs!

The Plan:

Teach both dogs a set of commands that can be chained together to stop the madness.  First, a command they already know- 'hold up.'  This is the same as 'wait,' where I just want them to stop until I know what is around the bend in the bath or if the approaching dog is friendly, then they are free to move on.  I added a long distance 'sit' to this because Skye tries to make her own decision about when 'hold up' is over.  I don't always have her sit, since sitting in the snow is a punishment worse than death for Skye, but I wanted her to learn it just in case.

Second is the recall command.  I use 'here' since Skye had a major aversion to the word 'come' when I adopted her.  Parker comes to a whistle that I do, since I taught him way before Skye came along.  He'll still come when I say 'here,' but it lacks the gusto of his whistle recall.

The last behavior was a new one for the dogs- an off leash heel.  Since both of my dogs are terrible at leash walking to begin with, I felt like this would be really tough.  But my trusty clicker and treats got me through it just fine, and both dogs were heeling for short stretches without distractions.

Oh, right.  Distractions.  Well, that is where we are today.  I've been switching off the heel with sit-stay or focus, because Skye gets antsy when we're doing something for too long.  Parker has also done well, but sticking close to me is more rewarding to him to begin with.

Our progress:

This was about a week or two into the training.  I should say that this isn't daily training, it is 'as the mood strikes me' training.  Some days I just want to walk my dogs, or let them romp and be annoying.  Or I'm too darn frustrated by Skye's complete lack of attention to work with her.  Is next month National Train Your Human month?  Because that would be great.


A few days ago I brought the dogs to a spot that I had only been to a few times with a client.  It is a loooooong canal with a path on their side.  In good weather dogs can swim, and it is the 'go-to' spot in that area for off leash dog activity.  Since you can see people and dogs coming from way off, it seemed like a great spot to practice.  In the video, there is a lady with a dog on the other side of the canal heading toward us.  I waited for Skye to notice the dog before asking her to hold up.

Later in our walk both dogs did a great job as an old sheltie came our way.  This is exactly why I wanted to do the training- no elderly dog wants to be rushed by a couple of young hooligans.  They stayed with me until I said 'you're free' and by then they were too close to get their running start.

As we reached the parking area, we were rushed by a big lab mix and a min pin who were extremely rude, but Parker and Skye turned the other butt cheek and walked past them to the car.  So I'd call it a win, but that was just one day.  When you live your life with a Skye it's one day at a time.


  1. Ok, I'm incredibly impressed with the "hold up" command - tips please!!!

  2. Wow, I can't imagine Billy being that well-behaved off leash. Even if we didn't have leash laws here in the city I don't think he'd ever be allowed off. Even so, his recall could do with a bit more work, you never know where it might be handy. "Come" became devalued by my not being consistent with its use/ training when I first got him so I decided to start afresh with a word that wouldn't just trip off my tongue all the time. I now use "aqui" and its been much more successful.

  3. Hi Y'all,

    Loose, uncontrolled dogs are always a problem even in the privacy of your own yard. So few people bother to teach their dogs how to listen off lead. Most people just "let 'em go!"

    Y'all come by now,
    Hawk aka BrownDog

  4. I have been trying to think of a command for this for the longest time and couldn't come up with it - I love "hold up!" I was also going to ask what you use for a heel command, since "heel" sounds a lot like "here", but then I watched your video. I had been thinking of using "with me", too, but I was worried it was too long. Looks like it works!

    I haven't been working on anything specific for train your dog month, but I have been working in general on getting my damn puppy to be ,you know, better. By which I mean a year old. It's slow going. :) But this month, she's shown definite improvement in trading for things (she was doing a lot of resource guarding as a small pup) and in going to her crate on command. Overall, I'm seeing a huge improvement, which makes me more excited about working with her!

  5. Wow, that is really impressive focus Skye gives you off leash! I guess it's time for me to break out the clicker and some treats and get to work this weekend ... I would love to have my pups behave like that off leash!

  6. Ah, so Skye has Attention Deficit Disorder, huh? ;)
    ALL canines have ADD, according to MY observation!! Some more than others.... My ROSE has the WORST case of Attention Deficit Disorder that I have EVER witnessed in ANY dog!! ;op

  7. Ohhhhh. I wish that more people did this. Maera gets extremely timid and scared when a dog rushes us, and Argos gets protective and bristly of her.

    Though I really really want to teach my dogs to do this too. They might not rush up to strange dogs, but there are plenty of other reasons to want for them to "hold up" too!

  8. I don't ever expect my dogs to be that good off leash! Our girl is just to bossy and impulsive. It's okay with me, but I always envy people who have mastered off-leash obedience. I'm glad you're conscious of what commands are important for having a dog off-leash. My worst nightmare is an off-leash dog approaching my dogs on a walk. Generally it can go smooth, but occasionally my dogs have had negative responses to being rushed by a dog, understandably.

  9. I love the commands you use and their use for them. Awesome! Thank you for taking such responsibility for your dogs off leash. Too many do not. What awesome dogs you have!

  10. First off, I'm sorry I'm so late in coming by to read about your challenge. I've been hacking up pieces of my lungs for two weeks. But I'm on the mend now and so excited to see how you met the challenge.

    You have certainly inspired me. Honey is very good off leash but I could definitely use a "hold up" cue. Great idea! And the videos were terrific. I got the feeling I was watching Skye think her way through the process in your first video.

    If you could write a post on the steps that got you to this point, I'd love to see it.

    I'll be randomly choosing the winner of the donation to a favorite animal charity tomorrow morning. Good luck!

  11. That's really awesome!

    We use "here" with Elka as well. Some members of the household who will not be named spoiled "come" by using it too frequently and without motivation or reward before she actually knew it. That, and we can pretend we're all cool and Elka knows German, because that "here" is "hier". On the long line, I've also been working on a specific whistle recall for her, that frequently results in her turning around and running at me as hard as she can. Which is pretty fun and hilarious, actually.

  12. I think you may be downplaying all the work you have done and the progress you have made. I am completely impressed. One of the hardest things is to get a dog to "hold up" and come when there is something more exciting up ahead. I know Jasper (my Sheltie) becomes deaf when he sees a runner. I am actually very inspired by what you have done with Skye and Parker. Kudos to you!


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...