Dog training so often is a set up. I grab a bag of training treats and the clicker, and the boys know it’s training time. While it’s great to get any work in, when I set them up to know, “Oh, it’s training time,” they tend to be on their best behavior.
So last Saturday, when we awoke to a half marathon running past our house, we took advantage of the unexpected training opportunity.
Lucas and Cooper both bark at people and dogs who have the NERVE to walk past our house. We’ve been working on building up positive associations – staying quiet with someone going past means TREATS! – but the challenge has been catching it before they can bark because we’re not always next to the same window as the dogs.
With the half marathon, we had tons of prolonged opportunities. The first few runners were waaaay ahead of the next bunch. Throughout the morning there were big bunches followed by gaps, a couple stragglers, then another big bunch.
John took the boys out on the balcony one at a time and fed them treats for a “watch me” as the runners went past. All three were excellent one-on-one.
Then he tried Emmett and Lucas together because Emmett doesn’t react at anything. (I took this pic from indoors because I didn’t want to disrupt; hence, the screen blurs the image.)
As you can see, Emmett is at complete attention. He couldn’t care less about the runners because he knows if he stares at John, John will rain treats. Lucas was a little anxious, whipping his head back and forth. Ultimately, though, he was able to maintain focus to get lots and lots of rewards.
The last step was to have all three of them out at the same time. At that point, they had all received lots of rewards and performed their “watch mes” almost perfectly.
In a group… well, the attention wandered.
Overall, a successful spontaneous mission!
What random opportunities for dog training have you found? How do you keep your training mixed up so they don’t start to predict the “oh, NOW it’s time for me to behave” thing?