Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Training Tips from 2-year-old Labrador Dog

Happy Birthday Mooki - 2 years old today.  That means you are grown up now so there will be no more "bad dog stuff" ... right?  Haha.  I know that won't be true, but I am happy to say he has made a lot of progress over the past few months towards being a well-behaved dog.

I am a good trainer and have experience with lots of dogs.  I admit I prefer the softies and, having had a bunch of them, I have gotten away with some training short-cuts.  Mooki has a willful streak, is quite stubborn and, well, not the brightest bulb in the pack.  He has pushed me back into being a more strict trainer instead of the lazy way I slide into with the easy dogs.  We went to "1 strike and you are out" instead of 3.  It means I have had to follow through every time if he ignores me.   I am happy to see him making big strides toward listening better, especially when it comes to being rough on the other dogs.  At this point I may give him a little slack, but if  he needs to be told more than once a couple times in a day, we go right back to the 1-strike system.  The good news is that Mooki does not dislike these rules since it is very clear to him that he is in control of the consequences of his behavior.  Animals like clarity.

One of the big mistakes I realized I had slipped into was too much of telling him "don't do" this or "stop" doing that.  Frankly, I was getting annoyed with him and not thinking like a trainer.  It is much much MUCH more effective if you tell them what TO DO instead of what NOT to do.  Now that I have corrected myself Mooki has learned some good new cues.  In addition, his recall has gotten significantly better since it is a "to do" cue that gets him out of trouble (and often gets him a fun reward).  We will happily put those rough days behind us and move forward with positive energy!