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Tuesday Training Byte- Setting your dog up for success

A common mistake that many dog owners make is not setting up their dog for success. First, dogs have short attention spans. Even when competing in obedience trials, the dog & handler team are only in the ring for a few minutes. We often start training our pup to some commands in our house, such as sit, stay. The dog may seem to catch on and do this rather well. Then they come to dog class and want to show their new skills. They put the dog on a sit, then stay, then drop the leash and walk away. Guess what usually happens? The owner only manages to walk two steps and the dog is already up following behind! Teaching obedience is similar to teaching a young child advanced math. There has to be a solid foundation starting with adding, then subtracting, and so forth. The dog learns in a progressive manner, too. Don't give a command you are not able to immediately enforce. This is for any and all commands. I can walk me dogs off leash in an open field and know that when I call them to "come", they will reliably run right back to me. They were never given the command while outside or off leash until they were rock solid every single time. I begin with a 6 ft. leash, say the dog's name followed by the command to come once. I may pat my knee or run away for a few steps, wave a treat or toy, or begin reeling them in with the leash, but no second or third command. When the dog arrives, I praise it lavishly and/or provide a treat. Never ask more of your dog than he is able to do at any given point. Remember the three "D's": distance, duration, distraction. We don't move to a farther distance for the recall until they are solid for a short distance. If there are distractions, be sure you have your dog's attention first and ask for the simplest of commands (sit for 5 seconds by your side) versus the more complex sit/stay for 30 seconds from 10 feet away. This will help you set your dog up for success.

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