What is your dream dog? What things would you like your dream dog to know? Most dogs fall way short of their potential. We get some clients that want to go fishing with their dog, others may want a dog that does off-leash heel or a dog you can trust off-leash anywhere. Sometimes we get specialized requests to start them for tracking, diabetes alert or training their own service dog.
There are only a few key components to training your dream dog:
- Command itself.
Teaching the command itself is often the easiest component. Dogs are smart, you break things down, they learn pretty quick. There are a number of different tricks that will help you break down anything so your dog understands it.
Distractions is another big category. The command often doesn’t take long but now will the dog do it everywhere? Teaching the dog to ignore distractions and focus on the task at hand is one of the biggest challenges people face when training dogs. Some distractions are just really fun for the dog to engage.
The final component is respect. When your dog respects you, wants to please and make you happy, they become a dream to work with. If they want to do things their way and are not too concerned about pleasing you then training can be quite frustrating.
We have a new to us dog that was slated to become an RCMP police dog, his hips didn’t meet the spec for what they like to see so he needed to find a new home. Somewhere that can handle a high drive dog. German Shepherds can become crazy if you don’t know what you are doing. Some are much easier to train than others.
The new dog will be fun, I really like his temperament. Some of the challenges for us are in how the RCMP raise their dogs. Obedience and rules are minimal. Basically the come command is one of the only things that is trained and that is for safety. They are still allowed to jump and bite. Another interesting problem we encountered is they start preliminary bite work training pretty young. So when you get excited and run around he thinks you are a tug toy and he gets to run and bite you.
The first time I had my wife run around with a whistle and waving a stick, you should have seen that guy fire up. Kids running and screaming were also fair game. This is all in prey drive so it is just a game to them. When we went to go see him for the first time the office went to gun run and close a gate, the dog chased after and jumped up to bite him on the arm. The office says “Just so you know, he has started his bite work training.” We are getting him to understand that kids running and screaming is ok and part of everyday life and no you are not allowed to chase them down and bite them. Although as a parent there are days that could be….. Wait a minute, maybe I could have just told the kids they can’t scream when playing otherwise the dog would bite them… Have to rethink my game plan here.
What is my dream dog? I like a dog that knows their obedience to some far distance and high level distractions. Essentially that I can trust the dog off-leash anywhere I want to go. Might teach him to ride on the quad when going down trails. We love doing tracking where we have friends come over, give them a walkie-talkie and tell them to go hide in the field, then we track them down. The kids love playing hide and seek with a dog too. Except for that one time they hid by a giant ant hill and my son kicked the ant hill. By the time we rolled in tracking them we heard screaming and crying and my wife had the boys almost stripped naked brushing the ants off. My oldest son crying saying “This is not the best day ever!”
It’s just fun working on your dream goals with your dog. People often get frustrated because they lack communication with their dog. They might think they are being stubborn when they are not. They might not know how to earn the respect of their dog or how to break the task down A to B.
Helping people achieve their dream dog is what we do. I love it when a client comes in and says “Not sure if we can teach the dog this, but I would love it if they could do this.”
What is your dream dog? What do you want to achieve?