Patience and perseverance. Please do not expect a dog to learn something after 6 or so go’s at it. It may take 50 or 100 or so for the dog to learn it spread over many weeks. Sometimes it may seem that the dog is dumb and will never learn to do something. Its actually not that at all. The dog probably knows but doesn’t want to do it. They can be stubborn too if they see no point in doing something. The answer is simple, change the training method. Any teacher will tell you there are a number of ways people learn, same with dogs. Give them a reason to want to do something. That’s where dog whispering comes into it.
My dog, an Australian red heeler is as beautiful and loving as they can get. But as far as stubborn goes, she is in a class of her own. That’s what everyone will probably say about their dog. My girl Max (not Maxine) responds to one thing only, affection. A lot of trainers advocate reward with treats, that often works With Max, no, she refused to take treats as reward, she knew when she was being bribed. Yes that’s how smart they are. What did I have to do? Simple, really go to town and make a fuss over her, good girl, daddy loves you etc. Anyone watching would possibly think I was a bit potty in the head but that’s OK, she got trained.
Max loves cheese and chicken as most dogs do but refused it during training. Max prefers tasty cheese and smoked salmon and is to die for in her (and my) eyes. During training, no way, she simply would not be bribed.
One of the PAT requirements is stair work. Dogs love running up and down stairs ahead of you and sometimes they can pull you over causing injury. The end game on stair work is for the dog to walk either beside you or behind you. That is going totally against the nature of what the dog wants to do. What I did there was to use a stick, no not to hit her at all. It was imply an extension of my arm and I put it in front of her nose so she knew it was a barrier and not to walk past that. Stair work – how I got my dog to succeed there was to walk one step at a time then stop. she was told to “stay back” and stop behind me. This she understood quite quickly. Max didn’t move until I took another step. She then stopped. She quickly worked it out from there on. Its actually a lot of things for a dog to remember going up and down stairs. Slowly increase your pace going up and down stairs and before you know it the dog can be considered trained in stair work.
Its all about being adaptable and changing the way you work with a dog as there is no fits all solution to training. Through all this the dog is actually training you as well.
The greatest accomplishment you can make is to get a dog to heel, Pulling on a lead is one of the worst traits a dog can have. Ordinarily that is. Dogs do not have a great attention span and get bored very easily and like people, stop learning. If you are in a one hour training session 40 minutes of that is dog play time. Yes, that long. the dog loves it, that’s reward for doing so well in training and the dog wont ever get to hate training. Try and go somewhere away from home so the dog gets new surroundings that they like. Its all part of the reward system, ensure they are very keen to go to that place, a happy dog is easier to train than an unhappy dog. As with people, the learning environment is crucial.
The PAT test is exactly that, public work. The dog must be 100% secure in being around other people and public areas. From the very earliest age or time possible simply walk your dog in areas where there is people, shops etc. The dog must get to feel very comfortable in this environment and not let distractions affect them.
This distraction issue is actually bigger than you may think. The dog MUST stay focused on you and have zero concern for what others are doing. If the dog does not stay focused on you at all times then no amount of training will work. Its called a Public Access Test for a reason – got it now?