Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Tuesday Training Tips: Beginner Novice Week 3

Sadly I wasn't able to get any pictures or video from recent escapades to go with this post. I apparently need to hire an assistant (who will work for wags and licks)!!

Monday was working on her sit-stays at a park this summer.
Check out the original blog post.


Proofing is so important when training our dogs, it's probably one of the most important steps for any behavior and yet it seems most people easily ignore it. What do I mean by proofing? Proofing, the way I see it, is testing your dog in a controlled way in order to make sure they are reliable in the presence of all manner of distractions. Many people assume that because their dog performs at home with minimal distractions that they will perform them anywhere and anytime. Pretty delusional :), but a very common mindset.

So where do you start?

First, you practice the Three D's of Dog Training somewhere familiar and where you can control all the variables:
  • Duration - length of time your dog will remain in the behavior (staying, heeling, etc.)
  • Distance - how far away from you the dog will reliably perform the behavior
  • Distractions - the dog's ability to listen and perform the behavior when presented with various levels of distractions
The key aspect to training the Three D's is of course consistency and slow progression. It's imperative that you set the dog up for success by slowly increasing the duration, distance, and distractions. Once you have practiced that repeatedly and feel your dog is reliably responding to your cues, then you start taking your show on the road - aka proofing. It is critical that you test your dog's reliability in various settings, with various distraction levels.
Baron enjoying the local farmer's market. While we were here we practiced heeling and sitting.
Check out the original blog post.
Monday gets excited very easily - she can shoot from zero to 60 faster than most cars. Sometimes it's a bit ridiculous, usually it's quite hilarious, and in public it's more than a little embarrassing :). Luckily, for the past few years we have worked on and off on her basic foundation of obedience so we have the various behaviors down (well except for stays, which we are still working on). Now I just need to focus on getting her on the road to practice her behaviors in a lot of settings. I am really worried about how she is going to react at the dog show with all that hustle and bustle going on and the number of dogs that will be everywhere! I'm already slightly hyperventilating because it's only two weeks away. How did that sneak up so fast?

I can't recreate the show setting because I will never find that many dogs in one place except for at a show, but I can do things to at least help her prepare. We are now making regular visits to our new local Petco and also to PetSmart in a neighboring town. The weather has been really crappy lately (and Monday of course melts at the first hint of rain) so we haven't been out to many parks, but if it clears up anytime soon I will try to put that on our schedule as well. This whole shorter amount of day light thing is not working for me very well either. Stupid Fall. Those are the things I am trying to do to make sure we are proofed :).

Where have you found the best places to proof for distractions to be at? Do you practice at pet stores? Parks? Somewhere else?

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