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Tuesday Training Byte: Off to a good start

Dogs need clarity on what you want them to do. If I am taking my dog out for exercise and mental stimulation my expectations will be different than that in a training class or competition. First, I communicate that by difference in collar type or if we are going for an off leash stroll on our property, then no collar at all. I use a chain fur saver collar for training and competition and no other time. The dog quickly figures out the difference. Prior to taking my dog out for a training session I make sure he has had yard time for sniffing, rolling, and running around. Then I give him a bit of crate time just before the lesson. As I bring him out I have the fur saver collar in hand and say, "ready to work?" in an upbeat tone. My dog is now ready to engage in some one on one time and focus. I keep the session short and upbeat. If I try to teach the down command beginning with a sit first (hey, he is half way down already!), then use a treat to lure him into down, but he is not quite getting what I ask, I start over. I ask for a sit again, then lure to down possibly with very slight pressure on his shoulders and treat him once his elbows are touching. I praise him well and do a little heeling with some automatic sits before asking for the down again. My goal is to have my dog go down fully three times. Then we finish up with something he knows well and enjoys- like a couple of spins. Then I clap my hands and say yay! Good work! I remove the collar and play a little fetch before going back inside. Make sure your dog's physical and mental needs are met first, followed by a bit of crate time, then make your clear beginning with your training collar and verbal cue that now he must focus on the tasks at hand and you will be off to a good start! Here I am switching Muddy's collar to her working fur saver right before going in the Rally obedience ring.

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