Train: to make proficient by instruction and practice, as in some art, profession, or work.

I'm going to discuss training this morning; fairly remedial right? Not always; often we assume we are training our dogs when we are simply saying a word or words that mean nothing to our canines. I see it all the time; people telling their dog to stay, down or heel in vain.

During training or a shoot; I will ask "does your dog know what stay means?" The answer is usually no if I had to ask. Dogs don't come pre-educated in the art of physical behaviors that we like to ask them to do.

To Heel: to follow at one's heels on command.

Heel is a word that is used alot and trained seldom. Heeling can take weeks or months to ingrain into a dogs brain. You cannot just throw on a leash and say "heel" expecting them to know what it means. Heeling is a very controlled way of walking; the dog stays at your side and must pay close attention to your movements.

If you would like your dog to respond to a verbal cue you must take the time to teach them. Would you know how to make a Chicken pot pie if I said to you "make me a chicken pot pie?" Probably not unless of course you had learned how to make one already.

Teaching your dog starts with patience, quiet and reward. You start out easy, no distractions and break a behavior down into small enough steps so that your dog can "get it." You then work up to the actual behavior, then add small level distractions working up to large distractions. It is a process, and it can be a long one.

Then there is proofing, making sure that your dog can perform these tasks under any situation. And just like the beginning teaching; you must train in any environment that your dog will be expected to perform in. Many dogs can down at home, in their own yard or neighbors house but for some reason they will not do it when you ask them at the park. Have you trained your dog to down at the park?

It is much more difficult for a dog to perform when distracted either by environment alone or noise, other dogs, people etc. So you must train in these situations. Sometimes that means going backwards in your training until you catch up to the non distraction level response.

If you want a well trained responsive dog; be prepared to educate.

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