I’m always playing around with things and trying to figure out if there’s a way to improve what I’m currently doing. One thing I want to talk about is how we, as humans, love to give voice commands multiple times. I’ve been thinking the past few days about the utility of silent signals. What that means, is you just using your leash and hand signals and not actually speaking to the dog.
In the initial drill I teach people, which centers around place training, I have them take their dog off the bed and settle for a moment, then I have my clients put the dog in a heel position and relax the leash. The dog is behind the front of their body on the left side, and the leash is slack but I don’t put a voice command to that.
I really like the fact that we’re not going to tell the dog to sit, or to heel, we’re just going to stop there as a default position and we aren’t going to name it. I think that’s useful because we’re going to just show the dog this thing and we aren’t going to say a word. We will reward them, and then the dog then is going to believe that this is a default position they should be in when they don’t know what else to do.
Think about that. Go do a place training drill, 5-10 minutes max. Put your leash on the dog and the treat pouch on your left side of your body. Then put your dog on their bed. When they’re coming off, call that “free” and walk away maybe 5-10 steps. When you turn back to put your dog back on the bed, just have your dog stop in the heel position, then slack the leash for about 10 seconds.
After that, begin to guide them back to the bed and say “go to your bed” and when they get on. You should then tell them what a great dog they are, gesture them into the down and tell them again what a great dog they are for that. Then, do it all over again, maybe 5 times or so.
It would be interesting for me to get feedback from you guys if you think your dog is looking for that heeling position more and more. I use that position for my dogs so often, I think it’s a perfect position to get a dog into without actually putting a voice command to it.
Please send me an email, firstname.lastname@example.org for your feedback or questions on this. You can text (832)734-5189