When faced with a struggle -> train FOR the situation, instead of IN the situation
What does this mean? Let’s take the example of Loose Leash Walking, a common struggle for many dog owners.
In a typical obedience class, students will walk their dogs on leash, in a big circle, sometimes changing directions to stay unpredictable, using treats to reward for any moment where the dog is NOT pulling on the leash. I’m seriously hoping that they don’t teach ‘leash popping’ or applying ‘corrections’ in order to get compliance from the dogs. Dogs may eventually ‘get it’ and walk nicely while in class and as long as treats are present, but on the way back to the car, on the next walk outside in the real world, all that “training” is forgotten and does not transfer to everyday life.
On the other hand, when we train FOR the situation, we might not even use a leash at all!!! WHAT??? No leash needed to teach Loose Leash Walking??? Instead we play games that teach CONCEPTS, such as orienting to me, proximity, calmness and focus. Two examples for such games are: Funder and Magic Hand. There are MANY more!
Here’s a little story about my youngest border collie, Jai. He’s what we call a Naughty But Nice dog: This can be a dog who is often pessimistic about novelty, such as unknown people and dogs. The games have helped him tremendously in learning how to cope with ‘normal’ things in life, or to sum it up: he became a lot more optimistic! One day as I was out on a walk down the road with Jai, I noticed that he was just a joy to walk on leash! I realized that through working on the concepts mentioned earlier, he learned to check in with me when noticing things. Loose Leash Walking turned out to be kind of a side effect of all the games we played and I had NEVER trained it with him for even one minute!
Every dog / owner has their own struggles but there is ALWAYS A GAME FOR THAT, so we can turn these struggles into strengths and have the kind of relationship with our dogs that we desire.
Dogs who lack confidence -> There’s a Game for That!
Dogs who lack impulse control -> There’s a Game for That!
Dogs who are pessimistic -> There’s a Game for That!
“Don’t give up on the hard dogs. They will give you something you never knew you needed!”