Ranch Dog Manners Week 3

  1. Teaching a “Default behavior” A default behavior is some thing the dog automatically does when you see a strange dog, come to a gate, or wait for dinner. Typical default behaviors are sit, down or eye contact. I taught my first border collie a default sit so that she didn’t bolt when she saw large dogs. I also taught it to her to sit whenever I stopped when she was on a leash walk to prevent her from jumping on people. A lot of ranchers I have met teach their dogs to sit,  look up, and lean into them to them before working with stock. To teach a default behavior reward the behavior when ever the dog offers the behavior even when you haven’t asked for it. At class we will be working on waiting for a default behavior at a gate.
  2. Gate work: 1) ask your dog for a default behavior (sit/down) at the gate and ask it for the default behavior 1 time. Without hovering, guarding or using pressure start to open the gate. If the dog breaks close the gate and start again. Expect this to take time. You are giving the dog responsibility for it’s behavior. It took me 15 minutes to get out the front door with Rey today. I patiently rewarded her for the sit, the door opening, and one step out the door. I just started over each time she zipped out the door. It tried my patience but eventually I succeeded. Then there is the next step…..
  3. After you go through the gate release your dog and wait for it to look at you. Again be patient. You are trying to develop responsibility in the dog. Looking at you is the ticket to moving on. For example if you are on a farm you do not want to open the front door and have your dog dash off to the barn without your permission.
  4. Tapping massage and relaxation: Finn is a more fearful dog than I have had before, so I have had to review some techniques that have gotten me through tough spots with animals in the past.  My dog Nero developed a fear of thunder, shooting and fireworks after his cancer started. I used this technique on him and he would come come up to me to ask for help when something disturbed him. This is how I knew it worked. Click on  Tapping points on the dog and a new window with an image of a dog with some star points will open. Think to yourself “Even though you are afraid of XXX I still love and accept you”.  Tap the dog lightly as though you are handling a new born chick. Tap each spot starting under the nose about 6 times (jin-gle bells, jin-gle bells). It also helps to hum a little song that you like, mine is Chariots of Fire, while you are working on your dog. During a stressful period when you cannot directly tap or massage your dog you can trigger a calm response by humming your song.
  5. “Give me a break game” Load yourself with ten treats and quickly work on 4 in a box and 2 on a plate games. Cluck and reward for behaviors very quickly and then sit down and allow your dog to sniff  or explore for up to one minute and then start again. If they come to you and ask to start again quickly play the 4/2 game again. This could also be done with heeling or a stay in place mat.

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