How To Bomb Proof Your Behaviours!
We all want reliable behaviours from our dogs. Knowing that Fido can produce all of the behaviours that you've taught him at any given moment gives us a sense of confidence in our dogs. When we have that confidence, Fido gets a better quality of life, they can have more free running, he can go to the pub with you and you can both have a great time together! Here at #ClaudiasCanineCoaching, this is something we love to go into.
So what is the key to bomb proof behaviours? Well, the basic answer is repetition. But basic is boring! Repetition is fine, but we need to look deeper into it! There is absolutely no point in repeating sit stays, time and time again in your garden. although this is an great initial stage, there soon comes a point where you need to take this new learnt behaviour in other places.
*Bryn showing his sit stays during our display at crufts*
So what is the next stage? And why do we need to take Fido do different places? We need to repeat these behaviours in different environments, as different environments change the dogs picture of the behaviour. Also new environments can increase distractions and decrease our dogs focus. When we take Fido to the park, there may be other dogs running around, kids playing football, parents with pushchairs... as you can imagine, this is worlds away from the level of distraction in your garden!
So now we're in the next stage! Where do you start? In the words of Julie Andrews, lets start from the very beginning! Why are we starting here? Because you've increased the level of difficulty with changing environment, so lets take the pressure off Fido by making everything easier again. By doing this, we're making sure we're creating plenty of opportunities to reward them for their fantastic behaviour. Then we can build up the behaviour just the same as we did in the garden!
*Delta doing her sit stay on a shoot*
What do we need to consider when we build up and break down behaviours? I like to think of things that may trigger Fido to react (and when I say this, I mean break a behaviour) and then break that trigger down into bite sized, digestible chunks of information and build it all together! These things may be a change in your body language (putting your hands on your head during a sit stay, changing speed within heelwork, not raising the hand for a stop etc), the duration that the behaviour is being done for, the distance that the behaviour is being produced and and the environment in which it is performed.
*Mabel doing sits in the pub*
Below are a list of things that I mentally tick off when I'm teaching something such as a sit stay:
Hands on head
Back to Fido
Tie my shoes
Throw a ball
Squeak a toy
Put food on floor
Walk 360 degrees around Fido
Run away from Fido
Of course, these are just the bare bones of how I would structure my exercise, and its certainly not something I would build up in just one session! This skeleton can be used to proof any behaviours that you wish to bomb proof. So repetition is fantastic, just ensure that you're repeating the behaviours where you really need to and at an appropriate level for Fido.