It’s that time of year again where it’s cold and dark at 16:00 and depending if you live in the city, suburbs or country you still need to keep your dog’s learnt behaviors sharp and maybe just maybe you can venture into new territory and work on some new things during these few winter months.
So what can you work on in the house?
Here are a few suggestions:
Verify your dog’s understanding of cues or better yet… What have you really taught your dog?
Ask your dog for simple behaviors like: sit, down, stand. Now can you add distance to that? Can you add a different angle of presentation? Can you present a similar word but the dog waits for the right cue do to the behavior? Check our Susan Garrett’s Can You Do it in a Box . You are testing your dog’s stimulus discrimination.
Scent games Harnessing the power of your dog’s nose is a great and wonderful tool.
Not only does it enrich your dog’s life but it may come in handy one day for him to find your missing item. Scent work has been used to increase the confidence of shy dogs and also for overly reactive dogs to help them work on a task. It can also lead to Search and Rescue work, Arson dog work, Narcotic dog work, Bed Bug work, Cancer Detection work, Diabetic Alert work and so much more! Take a look at this handout by Susan Clothier. Look for a local trainer certified in Canine Nosework Classes.
Platform work can help you better refine your dog’s heel position or formal front position.
It can also be used to start teaching distance work. Platform work is a form of target work. Ever see those “dancing” partners of dog and person? Platform work is part of the foundation for Freestyle. You can rent Michele Pouliot’s videos at TawzerDog Here’s a quick video – Platform Training for Dog Sports
Husbandry care should be an essential part of your dog’s everyday routine.
From nail trimming, ear cleaning, eye drops, teeth brushing to being brushed. You just need to do slivers/baby-step presentation of the actual event and build very gradually, rewarding every single time. This will help with creating a huge positive association to the setting operations and will allow your dog to voluntarily participate. You can go beyond that as well especially if you know that you may have several veterinary visits or other special forms of visits coming up for your dog.
You can teach: chin rest, prepare for injections, and prepare for x-rays. Take a look at DomesticatedManners’s video on Ear Treatment Training for Dogs and at Laura Monaco Torelli’s Canine Chin Rest Behavoir: Voluntary Injection & Ear Care
Lastly… Family specific behaviors.
Teaching your dog to: leave the kitchen area during meal prep, leave the dining area while people are eating at the table, build a strong alternative/incompatible behavior for when visitors enter and ringing the bell to be let out, staying in one area while a toddler is on the floor. These sorts of behavior can be done well with back-chaining. You can also build your loose leash walking skills by using your dog’s mealtime by doing Susan Garrett’s Reinforcement Zone or playing the “be my partner” down a hallway.
These are just a few ideas that you can take and run with. There’s never a bad time to improve your dog’s fluency, reliability or to teach new behaviors. Trust me, your dog will enjoy the mental enrichment and you will benefit from getting better behaviors. Set aside a few minutes here and there and by spring, your dog will have some great behaviors.
Need a little help to get started? Contact a local Certified Professional Dog Trainer, Karen Pryor Academy Trainer or a Pet Professional Guild member and read How To Choose A Trainer by the American Veterinary Society of Animal Behavior.
Daphne Robert-Hamilton, CPDT-KA
Daphne Robert-Hamilton is a Certified Professional Dog Trainer- Knowledge Assessed by the Certification Council for Professional Dog Trainers. She was a Certified Equestrian Coach by the Canadian Equestrian Federation before moving into the dog training world. She competed extensively with her two Doberman Pinschers from 1997-2002 and achieved being a finalist in the Top 20 Obedience in 2000 and 2002 with the Doberman Pinscher Club of America. In 2002 Daphne graduated from the SFSPCA Academy for Dog Trainers, which is now defunked. She went on to intern at the SFSPCA Academy and graduated with honors in dog aggression. Daphne became the go-to trainer in the SF Bay Area for aggression cases. Daphne has done webinars, been interviewed in several dog magazines and has written a two part article on “sibling rivalry” for The Chronicle of The Dog. Daphne was the Head Trainer for Washington state for Pets for Vets for about two years. She has fostered many dogs helping them find loving forever homes. Daphne is a member of The Pet Professional Guild.
Daphne has been married for 24yrs and currently lives with her two Rhodesian Ridgebacks in Washington State.
Website is under construction – k9partnership