In one of my training sessions today, I was working with a German Shepherd named Addie. Addie is doing really well, but her owner came to me with the problem of Addie needing better obedience. The big issue was her reactivity towards other dogs. We’ve been working on that, and it’s actually going quite well.
Addie is staying at her place very well, and she actually handled the doorbell nicely today when I arrived. She is also walking much more nicely on a leash, and she’s dealing with dogs in a better way.
Today we also did a few recalls. We both noticed that when Addie sits, she doesn’t necessarily sit with her legs or her hips squared up underneath her. During today’s session, I was really working with my client on helping Addie develop a better sit-stay.
If you don’t know what I’m talking about, this is one of those things that dog trainers are very picky about. We’d like for a dog to look really regal and not have a sloppy sit, especially if it’s a German Shepherd. We want the dog to have nice tight hips with their feet directly underneath them. Addie kind of sits like a frog, and she’s not the easiest to motivate. It’s a little bit tougher to get her high energy out. This brings me to my point today: Are you persistent enough?
I could see my client trying to get Addie up and get her a little bit more motivated, so she would tuck into a nice sit. Like many people, she would only try it for two or 3 seconds with her nonverbal forms of communication before she gave up. I wanted to show my client how to be persistent. I took Addie from her, and I worked her for a couple of minutes. During that time, I had to be persistent for 10 to 15 seconds with my nonverbal communication forms to get Addie to do what I wanted.
Let me make this a little bit more practical. What I was trying to do with Addie was luring her. Obviously, when you’re luring, you have food in your hand. Sometimes just the scent of whatever you have isn’t enough to get the dog interested and to get them to tuck themselves up. I took the food to the dog’s nose and vigorously and very rapidly shook my hand back and forth over and over. It took several seconds until that created enough drive in the dog to actually kind of jump up and snatch it. Then I could get her into the sit position we were looking for.
When you’re working with your dog, know that a lot of these techniques other trainers or I use work. Be persistent with your nonverbal commands! Don’t quit so quickly! The truth is, if you’re just persistent for a few extra seconds, you will get what you are looking for.
That’s it for today! I hope it was interesting and useful in some way. Only one more week to go for this year. Can you tell that I’m counting down a little bit? It will be nice to take a break for a while and do just a few different things that I have on my list.