Ranch Dog Manners Week #2

Time for more homework for the next week. Last week we had 5 basic assignments to get started on a positive training relationship. This week we are going to build on those ideas to build towards better and better understanding of body position for all dog sports like agility and herding.

  1. Don’t forget to be working on 10 comes a day for something. Many of the students in this class have horses. If your dog is approaching the horses without control then use a longline. As soon as the dog as the dog looks at the horses then call them back and reward with treats and/or toy play. With livestock and herding dogs it is always about your management. If something happens out of control in the pasture it is your fault for not managing the situation. With Rey I had a lot of trouble with her greeting people out of control so have had to start using the loneline again on walks to keep her safe. With puppy Finn I always have him drag a line on walks. He can enjoy some freedom but I can prevent unwanted interactions with strange dogs.
  2. Don’t stare at the food/toy. If you learn to break your dog’s stare on food/toys then later with herding when dogs need to be called off the stock they can do this. Once I start training tricks I like to do it with an open container of food on the ground beside me. So for the following exercises have your treats in an open container that is where the dog could reach it. This is really good for teaching self control.
  3. 4 Feet in a Box: over the course of the next week work with smaller and smaller boxes so that you dog has to really think about their feet as they step in. I like to “mark” as the hindfeet go in the box.
  4. 2 Feet on a plate. Again the theme is smaller and getting more precise with the front feet. Continue to reward after a very short period of time so the dog doesn’t develop the habit of staring from the plate. At home I toss the treats away from me to encourage movement from the dog. Add in a pot lid that moves and makes noise when the dog puts their feet on it. You might start this on a rug or towel and then slowly remove the noise muffler.
  5. This week we are going add going through something.  I use two stools and reward once she has looked between the stools with a tossed treat. If your dog is having trouble with staring at the food/toy do not lure them through with the object of their affection. Rather wait it out and when they look between the ‘stools’ mark and reward.
  6. Around something. At class we are using the pylons for this, but at home you will find many things your dog can go around. I use “tight” for counter clockwise and “wrap” for clockwise. Many people use one word for both directions and cue with their body. Once your dog becomes fluent then start to have them go around multiple times.

Bonus Trick! Some dogs naturally lie down with their back legs behind them. I call this “frog”. With my good dog Nero it took a long time to train this trick because I didn’t think he could do it. One day when he jumped up on me I realized that he was indeed flexible enough to get into this position. After that it still tooks a few weeks to train the “frog” but it became very handy in the spring for cleaning his belly on the snow. Rey loves this trick and does it on our bed every morning when she wakes up.

Enjoy training!

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