Today’s topic is: Do you rehearse before the big event? So I was working with a client and their German Shepherd today. When I first met it, it was really in my opinion, out of control. It’s a beautiful German Shepherd. But for me, it’s not very beautiful when the dog is moments away from just being totally out of control. Especially with those very big pointy teeth that they have.
The Big One
Anyway, I’m very proud of this dog because the people have done a nice job of getting the dog under control. The work is not done, but I’m pleased with the progress. So today in our session, we wanted to rehearse some different things. We wanted to rehearse the big one. Which is when people come over, have the dog do its job of guarding the house while also being obedient.
So I want to give you a couple of different drills that you might possibly do. One of them I would consider to be basic and the other I would consider it to be advanced. So before I give you those drills, I just want to talk about rehearsing before the big event. Whatever the big event might be. Whether it’s family coming over for the holidays or the Amazon guy dropping off packages at your home or whatever else it might be.
You want to rehearse what you want your dog to do in those moments before the moment. It just makes sense because once the distraction is present, it makes it harder for you and for your dog to get it right. And I think it’s particularly hard for us to get it right when we don’t know specifically what we want the dog to do. We just know that we don’t want them to act the way that they’re acting now.
Instinctively Supposed to Do
So here are the two separate drills. The first one is the one that I had my clients do, and then the second one is the one that I do with my dogs. So I had my client take all the training collars off of the dog while we were inside the home, and I stepped outside. So at that point, I knocked at the door and the dog did what it was instinctively supposed to do, which was run to the door and started barking.
At that point, I wanted my client to put the training collars back on because he’s in the process of training, and so he needs these tools to be able to help himself. So I advised him that before he answered the door to put the dog into heel position. That means that the dog was either standing or sitting on the left-hand side of him. That the dog’s eyes could clearly see that he was in front of him and might even be sitting at that moment.
So my client did that.
Not Easy For the Dog
It was a little bit of a struggle for the dog, at least initially. Well, because that’s not so easy for the dog to do. But my client did a nice job of getting the dog there. Then after that, we exchanged a couple of words. My client invited me in, and then he quickly led the dog to its place, which was right next to the dining room table. Then we put the dog on to its place. The dog was still excited, but we both sat down.
At that point, we waited a few minutes, and then we guided the dog into the down and began the process of truly reinforcing a down. This is a drill that you might want to use. It’s a fairly simple one. It’ll be challenging the first couple of times, but I don’t think it’s going to take all that long before your dog can actually get it.
Now, here’s a more difficult one for those of you overachievers. So allow your dog to run to the door and bark at it if they’re so inclined. At that point, what I want you to do is with at least 10-15 steps away, I want you to call your dog to you and have your dog come all the way and then get into heel position. And then, at that point, I would like you to point to the dog’s crate or their bed, which is in the room you’re in, and send them to it. But don’t close the door. Or, if they’re on their place, they should stay there.
Now That’s Hard
At that point, go to the door and have your dog stay on the place while you’re doing that. Now that’s hard. And that takes some training to be able to do that. But that might be a good way to have people come over if you know who it is and you need your dog to settle for just a moment as you answer the door. Maybe help them bring in some groceries or something like that.
The first drill can be used for you to influence the dog in a big way. Have the dog with you, be able to use your leash, and do all of that.