Tag Archives: dog trainer

Building and Breaking Trust

Everyone that reads this thing regularly, knows I do a lot of training through game play.

And, not in the surface “Create a reward event to make them work” sort if way.

But, in a profound way. Almost a spiritually fulfilling way. It impacts so many different levels.

Gives activity which is physically healthy. 15089859455_43f4e6a968_z

Gives psychological fulfillment, as the activities let them express their natural drives.

And we’ve always said that it builds relationships. Builds the language we will use. Builds fluency in body language for both dog and handler. All that good stuff. I’ve always thought there was carry over into just living with your dog. Past just the “tired dog is a good dog” line.

Well, now we have a bit of proof!

In this study, they talk about how dogs develop, and LOSE, trust!

Once you read that, you will have a greater understanding of how your “Game” can effect your day to day relationship. When I coach people in play, I constantly use the common phrase “breaking trust” to tell them why not to do certain things. And, on the surface….. It could be about just the game. Like… Giving fair presentations of the toy so they can get it without clipping you. Like moving it enough that they have to “try” but not so much they feel like they “can’t”. Tugging hard enough that they are in the “fight”, and not “overwhelmed……. All that seems to be only Game related.

But this study shows that dogs can learn from how you play and do trivial activities what kind of trust you deserve.

Seems like the Clarity the dogs learn from your Game will effect them in all aspects of your relationship.

A lot of times when I work with a dog, I start with play. And I’ve always felt it wasn’t just “play”. But us really learning one another. Build trust and language, before trying to navigate sticky situations.

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Kind of cool when science tells you you’re on the right train of thought!

That’s it.

Go play with your dog!

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Jaxxy’s Transition To A Spring Pole

What do I do in a Blizzard?
Transition Jax to Spring Pole!
Lot of people tug. Not that many people use Spring Poles.

The way old school dogmen used them didn’t involve control. Let them at it….. Pry them off. All conditioning and gameness. No control.

But, I think they can be used as an obedience reward. Just like tug. Giving access to this type of activity to folks that can’t get in there and play The Game themselves. Plus it takes HUGE impulse control.
Jaxxy followed my typical process:
Tug. Ball On A String. Flirt Pole. Decoy Tug. Then Spring Pole.
Each progression requires more responsibility and control under higher and higher arousal, so there’s usually a little wobble in self control as they master that test.
The transition to the Spring Pole follows the same ramp up in responsibility.
The toy is kept low so the outs are easier, and I am fairly close, so it doesn’t challenge my area of influence too much.
As he gets cleaner & more crisp, I will raise the toy up, and myself away.
Eventually, He’ll be swinging like the old school pics.

But…. With solid obedience!
No collars. No food.
Only Social Drive and self control overriding Prey Drive.
Here’s Jaxxy’s first session.

And Here’s a follow up 2 days later. It’s his 3rd session:

Jaxxy Doing Work.

This video has two purposes. Well, 3.

One is celebrating my little idiot. God dammit I love that dog.

Two, is showing progress to anyone following his little story.

And, last, but not least….. Showing training doesn’t have to feel like this piece of shit chore. There was only about a third more of these activities that weren’t on film. This really is indicative of the amount of time I “worked” him.

Embed the training throughout the day. Train through game play.

Make it fun for YOU. And then you may do it.

Anyway….. Here’s Jaxxy doing some work. Enjoy:

Conditioned Relaxation Is NOT Massage.

OK……. Conditioned Relaxation is one of those hot topics going around. And, in case you’ve been living under a rock for the last 6 months…… you’ve seen it. Or, at least heard it described. The typical view of CR goes like this:

“CR is using massage to get a dog relaxed.”

Massaging a dog until they relax IS NOT putting relaxation on cue!

I mean….. Yes……. you do need to use massage to get the dog relaxed. But that shouldn’t be the way it stays forever.

Look at Sit. I can push the butt to the floor to “create” sit. But if someone says “Did you teach your dog to sit?”, you wouldn’t say “Sure, watch.”, then push their butt down.

If you’re still pushing their butt down…… That dog don’t know sit!

There in lies the rub (pun).

People see the massage wrong.

The first mistake people make in CR with “touch” is they pet, scratch, or stroke the dog. And that might be “relaxing”…… But not on a Therapeutic level. If I went to a massage therapist and they gently stroked my hair…… Not what I need.

Then, once people realize the therapeutic benefit of touch, they begin to go to “work” on their dogs.

AND IT WORKS!!!

Then comes the second mistake.

Since it works, they keep using it.

Like people that say “My dog knows sit”, but they have to have food in hand!

You can get your dog relaxed but you’re still relying on the inducting method.

You’re still pushing on the butt, or grabbing a cookie for sit!

Like all solid obedience commands….. You want to wean of needing to induce, or coerce!

Have had a number of conversations over the past couple of weeks that has made me realize that people don’t “get” the idea that it’s an “obedience command”.

Some examples:

Woman dreads the toll booth, cause her dog blows up.

I, after suggesting crating the dog till they’re past the issue, said “Cool, work his CR until you can use it a the Toll Booth”.

She asked, “How am I supposed to massage him from the drivers seat at the toll booth?”.

Last night, I was doing a little clinic for a local rescue. Several of the volunteers were clients. And I was talking about dealing with difficult dogs. CR came up. I got a gut feeling the above example wasn’t a lone misunderstanding. And, I said…. “You guys know that CR isn’t just massaging your dog till they relax”.

And, holy shit……. almost every single one of the people that I HAD TAUGHT were shocked. Like…. kinda upset.

Like…… “What the fuck do yo mean it ain’t massage?!?!??!”

Now I know break things down well. And, I know that I am very careful in my teaching to avoid misguided learning. And, if my own clients, I taught myself, are confused about that…….

There’s no way folks out on the interwebs trying to self teach aren’t fucking that up.

And there’s no way the skeptic “CR is bullshit” crowd isn’t using that as reasons to dismiss.

Hell, that WOULD be bullshit.

You can’t give your dog a 10 minute deep tissue massage every time you drive through the toll booth!

But…. you have to induce it to “capture” it.

Food goes up- butt goes down. Once that’s reliable you name it sit. Once they “know” it….. you fade off the food.

CR is the same…. Massage to induce relaxation. Name it. Fade off massage.

Both are oversimplified….. there is more to food luring & CR but, you get the point.

Anyway, if you’re still reliant on food lures, leash pressure, or butt pushing…… Your Sit isn’t “finished”.

If you’re still breaking out the massage table for a long session…… Your CR isn’t finished.

Yeah…. It’s kinda the defining feature.

But it’s not the “END”.

For more info on CR:

Go directly to the source. Kayce Cover!

Chad Mackin covers CR in his Dogmanship Workshop.

And I do it in several of my workshops as well!

Sometimes…. It Works Out

Walking 2 of our dogs through the woods, and in the middle of a good conversation (aka not paying attention to the pups) we hear screaming and sounds of dog blowing up from around the corner on the trail. Yeah….. The same trail that Jax had just run down.

I have the dogs on remote collars for recall, but…. no matter what some people say, I’m not using them to break aggression! But that’s a rant for another time.  Anyway…..

I go sprinting around the corner towards the sound of what I’m sure is gonna be the event that gets Jax put down. As I round the bend, I see a big ol Pit Bull. But he’s not blowing up. There’s still someone screaming. I have the split second fear that Jax is mauling this person. I want to puke.

I keep running, and that’s when I see Jax come back to this Pit at the end of the trail and they start……..

PLAYING.

Seriously.

Playing. Nicely. Appropriately.

Holy shit.

For another split second, I couldn’t process why this woman was still screaming. Or why there was still a dog blowing up. I get to the end of the trail. And there’s this woman with another dog on a leash, who’s just blowing up at Jax. And the woman is screaming at her own dog!

And, here’s the funny part. She starts apologizing to me!

I asked if she was ok, and she kept saying, “you’re dog is no problem. I’m so sorry. It’s my fault” etc….

I hooked Jax up and we left. His new buddy tried to come with us, but eventually went back to the screaming lady.

I literally cried a little.

My little man has come so far.

There may be something to this dog training shit.