I am SO LUCKY to have this opportunity with my amazing colleagues at Camp Unleashed! I will be coming back to the east coast at least twice a year to teach and run camp, so it is helping my move to Oregon feel a little less bittersweet. I will terribly miss all my lovely clients and their amazing dogs, so you all better come to camp!! <3 <3
Is it an attention problem or a motivation problem?
Springtime is here and most of us respond to the warmer weather by taking our dogs out more often. If we are lucky, we get to take our dogs to places where they can run around off-leash and truly indulge in their ultimate dog-dom. Before summer hits full-swing, spring is a perfect time to spiff up your dog’s ability to come when called. But what if he doesn't come?
Do you have an attention problem or a motivation problem?
There are two main components of a successful recall: your ability to get your dog’s attention and your dog’s interest in returning to you. We often focus on one of these components and neglect the other. These are two sides of the same coin, and to truly have the best recall, we need to strengthen both independently.
If your dog doesn’t even turn around to look you when they hear “Come!” you have an attention problem. If your dog turns to look at you, but doesn’t move toward you, you have a motivation problem.
Name recognition is the first step to a solid recall. Obedience classes are full of attention exercises, only trained on a 6-foot leash, so many people think they have name recognition when they really don’t. By practicing it daily, in varying situations, and always pairing with high-value rewards, you can truly build reliability and value in name recognition in ways that will benefit a solid recall. This is important because almost all recalls happen when the dog is off-leash and more than 6 feet from you.
Ways to practice attention for recalls:
- Dog is stationary, 10 feet from you.
- Dog is stationary, 20-50 feet from you.
- Dog is stationary, 100 feet from you.
- Dog is stationary and sniffing
- Dog is facing away, moving slowly.
- Dog is facing away moving quickly.
- Dog is running full speed
- Dog is engaged in play/interaction
These are often ways that we want to practice our recalls, but it’s an important way to practice your dog’s name recognition. Calling a dog can often put a dog into conflict, since we are calling them away from something they are interested in. Focusing on rewarding name recognition before calling the dog allows us to build value in turning to look at you for more information. This behavior will ultimately benefit our recalls, and it doesn’t put the dog into conflict because you’re not asking him to leave an interesting activity. In training terms, this is called splitting criteria. We are separating the goal behavior into small attainable pieces and training those pieces individually.
So now that your dog is responding to his name in distracting situations, we need him to come running at full speed when he hears “Come!” Resolving motivation issues can drastically improve recall issues, so it’s important to know why you might have a motivation problem. Oftentimes students wait until their dog is at the dog run to practice their recalls, and this automatically puts the dog into conflict: Should I come to owner or play with friends? Starting with lots of practice in easy environments and high-value rewards will reap the most benefits, since it minimizes conflict. Also make sure to only furnish rewards after your dog has come to you, not showing them the treat or toy first. Think paycheck, not bribe. Plastic treat-baggie sounds and hands that hover near treat-pockets are bribes, and it will hurt your dog’s recall reliability if they get tuned into it before actually coming to you.
Reasons your dog isn’t motivated:
- Your rewards are low-value
- Not enough daily practice
- Over-use & desensitization of recall word
- Compliance leads to something dog dislikes (ie: leave dog park, come in house, give up sock)
Next time your dog doesn’t come to you, diagnose the issue by deciding if your dog had trouble with attention or motivation. This will help you focus your next training session and you’ll be well on your way to better recalls!
CHECK OUT THE SOCIALIZING YOUR FELLOW STUDENTS ARE DOING:
- Toby saw a school bus!
- Watson went to the library, a cafe, and Central Park!
- Elsie went to the train station, skate park and tennis courts!
- Daisy met the gardener, kids and saw a skateboarder!
- Suki saw lots of things with wheels!
The average puppy needs 3-4 field trips EVERY WEEK to NEW places to become adequately socialized.
If done correctly (NOVEL situations are PAIRED W/TREATS) socializing will help the friendliness and confidence they show as a puppy last and solidify as they become adults. Wariness and avoidance are natural survival instincts that will kick in as the dog ages, potentially causing shyness, fear, and aggression. Socialization helps reduce this natural tendency!
Your puppies need to meet an average of 25 new people every week, and an average of 8 new dogs every week. Let people know that you are there to socialize, bring your treats, and reward and praise every polite interaction your dog has. Don't take for granted a puppy's natural curiosity at this stage. It starts to fade by the time they are 14 weeks old!
REMEMBER THERE ARE THREE PUPPY PRIZE PACKS TO WIN BY SOCIALIZING YOUR PUPPY:
Ringo finished his Musical Freestyle Champion title this month during the Rally Freestyle Elements Spring Fling Video event. Ringo's drastically improved confidence in the ring this year was a direct by-product of our improved teamwork. He blasted through 4 musical freestyle titles this year, each performance earning qualifying scores, including his first high combined freestyle and high in trial awards! Ending the year with his Champion Title was just icing on the cake. We both learned so much. And we ain't afraid a no ghost!
Join Jenn and Ringo in Medina, Ohio for an entire weekend of Rally-FrEe and Musical Freestyle training! Limited spots available, register soon! June 16-17. Private lessons also available after workshop. MORE INFO
Update: Working spots are full, auditing spots still available!
May 18-21 Camp Westmont, PA
Experience our all-inclusive training camp to learn new off-leash skills, strengthen your bond, and experience canine water sports in a whole new way. Stay in a cabin with your dog, hike off-leash, swim and play at the expansive and gorgeous Camp Westmont. Optional training activities will be provided throughout each day to expand your dog's skills.
On Camp Westmont's 100-acre private lake, beginner and advanced water training will be offered, including, but not limited to: navigation, nautical nose work, retrieve work, tow work and aquagility. Use your dog's love of the water to create a whole new world of training games to exercise his mind and body!
On land, camp training activities will include beginner and advanced off-leash recall work, dog parkour (dog agility using only natural obstacles), beginner and advanced tricks, Rally-FrEe, and heel and focus games. There will even be evening wine and cheese social hours, s'mores, board games, and a special guest lecture on Integrative Vet Care by Dr Sarah Urban!
To keep this camp personalized and focused on individual team training needs, we are accepting only 20 working teams. Register soon to save your spot!
Does your dog dislike nail trims?
Here's a great winter project for you: teach him to trim his own! This is great for easy maintenance of his front paws; it's fun for both of you! And if you're really talented, you can teach him to scratch his back ones too!