Jul 212017

One of the hardest skills to master in dog training is knowing when to stop training!

Particularly when things are going well, it’s human nature to want to do the exercise again or to make it harder. For example, if you have managed to get Fido to sit/stay for 30 seconds at 10 yards, we often (but mostly boys!) think “I wonder if he can manage 60 seconds at 20 yards” and so on. Before you know it, Fido will fail – and then you will have just undone all your previous hard work. Not only that, but you’ll probably tell Fido off, he’ll feel bad and you’ll feel frustrated. Nobody wins.

So, try and develop the ability to recognise when things are going really well – and then stop! Fido and you will finish on a high and the next time you take him training, he’ll want more of the same.

Try it. It works, I promise.

Jul 112017

No matter how badly a training session may have gone, no matter how frustrated you may feel, no matter how many times Fido has bu****ed off, try to finish every training session on a positive note.

The best way to do this is to do something simple that you know Fido can do well. Even if this is a sit or a short recall. Then praise Fido to the heavens and end the session.

This ensures that Fido ends the session feeling good about himself, about you and he will look forward to the next time. If you end training on a low, Fido will also be low and won’t be so keen to do it all again ….

Jul 092017

This is not 100% true, but it’s pretty much the truth! If Fido is distracted or is ignoring you, he’s probably not listening to you.

Getting a dog to focus on you is, IMHO, the Holy Grail of dog training. From focus stems a whole range of good behaviours. So we apply a few golden rules to help achieve focus:

1. The less you talk to Fido, the more he has to and will look at you for direction. The more you talk to Fido, the less authority your voice has.

2. During training, don’t give a command until and unless Fido is making eye contact.

3. Hold your treat near your chin to encourage Fido to look up.

4. Don’t reward Fido with a treat if he’s not looking at you; by doing so, you’re encouraging him to ignore you.

5. Don’t bribe Fido by dangling a treat in front of him to get him to look at you. No eye contact = no reward. Simples!

Try it! It works, I promise.



Jul 042017

This is the question I am asked most often. Whether it is to teach Fido to sit, stay, walk to heel or recall, people look for advice on how to teach certain behaviours. Well here’s my take …

Fido wasn’t born understanding English (or any other language!). So, if you say “Sit!” to Fido, he won’t have a clue what you’re talking about – until he has learned to associate that word with putting his bottom on the floor. So there’s no point in repeating “Sit! Sit! Sit!” to Fido and trying to force his bottom on the floor. He will be confused and potentially anxious.

What we do is to tell Fido what he is doing once he’s doing it! Sound odd? We engineer the behaviour we want and then tell Fido what the associated word is. 

Using the sit as an example, we use a food treat to lure Fido to us, keeping our hands low. As he comes in close, we raise our treat hand to our chin encouraging eye contact, Fido sits and we say “Sit!”. Voila! After doing this many times, he will associate the word with the action and now the word can now be used as a command. And this method can be used to shape all the basic behaviours.

Think about it: this method ensures Fido never fails, he only hears the correct word when he’s doing the correct thing, you minimise the use of your voice and Fido only hears the word once (instead of the usual multiple commands we tend to give, which just encourages Fido to ignore!).

It’s called shaping a behaviour by association. It’s easy, fast and it works. Soon, Fido will understand your key words, whether in English or Cantonese!