Simple Dog Training Rule

image result dogA Simple Dog Training Rule

Helping You Conceptualize Dog Training One Seemingly Useless Esoteric Concept At a Time

(Hint:  It's not actually useless, so keep reading)

Anyone who has taken a class from me knows I am big on paradigms.  Paradigms give learning the structure it needs to build.  They may be a bit boring at first, but when they come full circle into actionable dog training, it is exciting (well for me anyway but I'm a nerd so it may just be mildly interesting for normal people). Today we're going to talk about Time and Space.

When you train your dog, you can control Time and Space.  Well, not literally.  That would be a neat trick.  "My dog trainer taught me to control Time and Space!"  Cue the weird looks.  What I mean is that you can use these concepts to make decisions when you are training your dog.

Time: you can control the amount of time you do an exercise.  For instance, you can control how long you make Chloe hold a stay (or hold her bladder for that matter-yes it works with housebreaking as well).  Dogs tend to be very Type-A in personality- meaning they like to learn new things and they like to succeed.  This can work for you or against you, your choice.  If you tell Buster to stay for 5 minutes and he keeps getting up after 3, you can keep repeating the failure over and over or you can think about to your Camp Sammy doggy paradigm about Time and Space.  Maybe, you should try having Buster stay for 2.5 minutes and then rewarding him for doing such a good job!  This is going to help you build up to 5 minutes a lot faster (and with a happier, more well-adjusted dog) than if you keep letting Buster fail over and over.  Buster is going to WANT to stay if he is pleasing you and doing well, so use the concept of Time to your advantage.

"But Sammy, I've seen you tell your jerk dog to stay while you leave the room and get a cup of coffee and he stays!"  Ah yes, my friends, but I have put in the Time (see the theme?) in to be able to achieve this.  My jerk dog actually failed the stay on his first go at the Canine Good Citizen test, so do not feel bad.  All dogs start somewhere and they are all human (yes I know....just humor the crazy dog lady) so they make mistakes.

Image result for space dogSpace:  Not like outer-space....Dogs in Space!  OK, enough coffee, Sammy.  The way I explain space in dog training is twofold.  The first is the amount of space you put between you and your dog.  Let's revisit that Stay exercise with Buster.  If you want Buster to hold a stay at 20 feet, you will have to work up in Space to 20 feet.  Start with 6 feet (that's the length of a standard dog leash, so it's a great starting point because you can practice anywhere).  Work your way up in the amount of space between you and your dog, with your dog succeeding at regular intervals to reach your goal.  Why do you have to succeed at regular intervals?  Because if you don't you will turn your dog into a neurotic monster who hates working for you.  Dun dun dun.  This is where the hard work portion of dog training comes in.  Yay real life! This concept also works with housebreaking- your puppy has to earn space by doing well in a smaller space.  He gets space privileges added or taken away as he behaves or misbehaves.  This means chewing on scary stuff as well as the potty breaks.  If he's peeing outside but he burns your house down by chewing your electric cords, then he is not housebroken.  And technically now your inside is outside.  Hmmm, let's not have the housebreaking war end with that brilliant maneuver.

Image result for freaked out dog
If I make inside into outside, I can pee EVERYWHERE!

You can also control the space in which you work.  There are more and less challenging environments to work with your dog.  Inside with no distractions is usually the least challenging space to choose for working with your dog.  This is a good choice of space for learning new concepts.  Outside in the backyard or inside with distractions would be a bit more challenging space. This is a good space to add after learning something new.  The more places you do a command, the more the dog realizes the command applies everywhere. The front yard would be an even more challenging space.  Lowe's or Home Depot (both allow pet dogs to come along with their humans) are even more challenging spaces.  I love to do field trips with my lessons to these stores because all the sounds, smells, and people make the space a great learning tool.  The park with a lot of dogs is probably the ultimate test.  Do I get a bit of trainer pride when my clients, after loads of hard work, tell me their dog was the only one to come immediately when called at the park?  You bet I do.  That is the glory moment we work for, people.  And we achieved it by using Time and Space to our advantage.  Cue scene.

Sammy the Dog Trainer


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