Day 19: Puppy Pushup

Now that you have brushed up on a lot of different skills, how about combining them? A sit-down-sit combination is fairly simple, but it can be a fun trick to show off if branded as a "puppy pushup." Trying this will also give you an idea of how well your dog has learned sit and down. Many dogs have trouble returning to the sit from the down position if they have primarily learned it from a standing position. ...
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Back to Basics: Butts in Seats

After starting this Back to Basics topic a few weeks ago with Attention and Find It/Name Game, I have allowed my own attention to wander a bit, but now it seems like a good time to refocus on basics, starting with the first behavior most people think about training a dog to do: sit. The ubiquity of the "sit" cue and the ease with which most dogs learn this behavior is both a blessing and a curse for dog training. Of course, it's a blessing to have a dog who will sit when you want him or her to do so. However, although many new students tell me that their dog knows a cue for "sit," a little investigation often reveals that the dogs do not know this cue out of it's usual context. One truth of dog training is that our dogs often do not focus on the same things we focus on. Humans are highly verbal, and we tend...
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Back to Basics: Me and You

With the recent hubbub over Beverly Cleary's 100th birthday, I have been spending a lot of time lately thinking about Ramona Quimby. Does anyone else remember the scene (in Ramona the Pest, if you're wondering) where she arrives for the first day of school and is told to "Sit here for the present"? She thinks she is getting a gift, and she stays sitting in her chair for hours, waiting. All right, I may not tell that story as well as Cleary does, but my point is that instructions are only valuable if the recipient understands what is intended. Unfortunately, we often ask our dogs (cats and other pets too!) to follow instructions that they have not been prepared to understand. With that in mind, this seems like a good moment to review some basics. We'll start this week with two games I usually teach to my students as "Attention" and the "Name Game." These are not only great exercises for starting training, but...
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