Follows instruction with training sessions only

Posted by 2DogOwner
Nov 8, 2007
When I have my dogs leashed for training they are fantastic. They sit stay wait and come without issue. They are 2 maltese one 8 months the other 5months, I train them alone and together. I am currently in the weaning stages for treat giving vs praise. The problem is they do not listen any other time or it takes many repeat tries. What am I doing wrong? The 9 month old I think is testing me (at least she looks directly at me and does nothing) and I am flunking, the other little one is just so exciting she does the direction but only can hold it maybe a few seconds if at all
Posted by tom-morton
Dec 13, 2007
[QUOTE=2DogOwner;337]When I have my dogs leashed for training they are fantastic. They sit stay wait and come without issue. They are 2 maltese one 8 months the other 5months, I train them alone and together. I am currently in the weaning stages for treat giving vs praise. The problem is they do not listen any other time or it takes many repeat tries. What am I doing wrong? The 9 month old I think is testing me (at least she looks directly at me and does nothing) and I am flunking, the other little one is just so exciting she does the direction but only can hold it maybe a few seconds if at all[/QUOTE]
Oh boy ! I am having the same problem and thought that perhaps your respondents would teach me something---but I see you have had no replies.
My ten month old poodle does great when I have him on a 40 foot line---comes when calle, sits on command etc etc . But when off leash its almost as if I am not there.
If I find any advice I will let you know.

Posted by MartyEd
Dec 17, 2007
Hi there 2dogowner and tom_morton,

Thank you for your posts regarding off leash training and ensuring you get your dogs' attention when they aren't constrained to a leash. This is a very common problem many of our clients face and one that is not easy to correct immediately. Obedience off leash is a difficult skill that takes time to train and an effective alpha dog status over your dogs. First of all, I would encourage you both, and your respective family members, to read the bonus book "Secrets to becoming the Alpha Dog". This book will give you a good understanding of the hierarchical nature and behavior of your dog. Follow the tips in this book as much as possible and you should get good results within a couple of weeks. If you treat your dog as an equal it may well see it as an opportunity to challenge your position. For example, be aware that allowing your dog onto the couch, bed, etc will give it the leeway that it needs to be able to challenge your position as the alpha dog in the relationship. This behavior change may occur quite gradually, without you even noticing it, until your dog starts showing aggressive tendencies when you try to move it!

You should reprimand your dog for unacceptable behavior, no matter what that behavior is. If you do not reprimand your dogs poor behavior then it will feel that it has the right to behave that way and it will take much longer to correct the behavior. What I recommend you do, is the next time your dog acts poorly and exhibits dominant tendencies (growling), saturate your dog with the garden hose or a bucket of water, or if it is inside, throw a heavy blanket over your dog and be sure to reprimand it. DO NOT yell, as this has no effect on the dominant dog. Growl instead, use a guttural growl like " AAHHH!" instead of "No!", as this makes a sharper sound then "No" (If done correctly it may hurt your throat a little).

Please ensure you undertake the following techniques to reinforce your status as alpha dog

If you come across your dog while he is sleeping or lying on the floor then you can reinforce your position as alpha dog by making him move so that you can pass by.

Generally I do not recommend people give their dogs bones as this encourages the aggression, because in the wild the alpha dog would be the only one to have the privilege of chewing the bones. The reason your dog growls at you when you approach it with a bone is because it believes that it has the right to the bone and is trying to discipline you for challenging your dog for its dominant role.

Make sure that you always go through doorways first. A good method to reinforce your position as alpha dog is to walk your dog around the house on the leash, making your dog wait while you walk through doorways first. At mealtimes make sure that your dog or dogs eat after all of the humans have.

Do not feed your dog tidbits or let it pester you at the table. Save the morsels and tidbits for training sessions instead.

Do not greet your dog straightaway when you arrive home. Make it wait until you are ready and then call it to you.

When your dog wants to go outside for a walk, make it sit and wait until you are ready to go.
When you give a command make sure that you are in a position to enforce the action that you require from your dog, especially in the initial stages of Alpha Dog training. Also, use the Alarm-No-Command technique as described in the Alpha Dog bonus book to reprimand your dog if it does not obey your command.

Physical correction is generally not recommended. If you decide that you have no other option then please make sure that your dog is muzzled before you attempt any form of physical correction. See the Alpha Dog book for physical correction techniques.

It is vitally important that your dog has good all-round obedience skills. Regular training sessions are key to improving your dog's obedience responses and keeping it used to answering your commands. Concentrate on the sit and stay, down and stay, heel and wait commands.

Do not inadvertently reinforce poor behavior from your dog. You must be consistent in your attitude to your dog. For example, if your dog is allowed to jump on you when you are playing with it but is not allowed to jump up at any other time then how is it meant to know the difference?

By undertaking the above techniques in combination with some basic obedience commands such as Sit, Stay, Come and Heel, you should be able to get better control over him in the long run. Thankfully there are a few training techniques you can use to help your dogs learn, that should be used in tandem with the Alpha Dog training and basic obedience training.

The progression below is a useful one that many people have used to get better results from their dogs. The first step is to have your training session in an environment where your dog is comfortable and not threatened. You can decide where you start on the progression if you feel that you would get a good response out of the earlier progressions and do not need to do it again. You will also be the best judge of when you should move on to the next progression, but I would recommend that you move on when your dog completes a 5 to 10 minute sit-stay and a 5-10 minute down-stay. This may require you to go back to the beginning to quite basic commands but you are better to take things slowly and complete this program over a number of weeks.

1. inside, on-leash, with no other dogs or people present,
2. outside, on-leash, with no other dogs or people present,
3. outside, off-leash, with no other dogs or people present,
4. outside, on-leash, gradually introducing dogs and people to the vicinity,
5. outside, off-leash, gradually introducing dogs and people to the vicinity.

I would also recommend that you keep your dog well away from any other dogs other than while you are completing this training, so as to avoid as many potentially bad situations as possible. The more exposure your dog gets to confrontational situations the harder it will be to fix. This means avoiding the off-leash dog parks for a while.

Outside of training it may be worth trying to socialize your dog a bit more. Preferably with friends who have dogs of calm temperament, as they will be more forgiving of any incidents! In saying that, if you think that your dog may react badly by biting or fighting then consider using a muzzle. Again, this will have to be a gradual process where the new dog is introduced at a neutral venue and from a distance. By that I mean you should get your dog to sit and have the other dog in your dog’s sight but a long way away. You want to keep your dogs focus and attention on you as your friend gradually brings the other dog closer. if your dog makes to move from the sit then have your friend back off to reduce the distraction.

These techniques should help get your dog used to being off leash and around dogs. Be sure to reprimand him if he acts up around any dogs or people. This is as I described above – growling and perhaps even spraying some water via a water pistol at him. In combination with this however, it is very important to praise and reward your dogs when they undertake good and appropriate behaviors around other animals.

Further to this is definitely worth re-training the come command if he is to be off leash quite a lot. Often the best method is to use Clicker Training. In your cases, I think it is a good idea that you use a food reward training method sometimes, to help keep your dog motivated. You can start with a food reward and gradually wean them off them by introducing a secondary reinforcement, such as a Clicker. You may think that your dog will only come to you for the food reward, however, in the process, they quickly learn what the Come command is, and what the click from the Clicker means too!

Clicker Training
If you start to train you dog with the Clicker, you will find this very helpful when your dog decides to take off. For example, The second your dog turns to look at you, you should (after teaching him what the Clicker means) click the Clicker as if to reward your dog for looking over at you. This may help entice him to make a decision to turn back again.

An example on training your dog to respond to the Clicker:
• Ask your dog to sit; for example, say "(the name of your dog)....SIT!" (always use its name in front of a command as this trains them to respond to their name),
• Then when your dog obeys, click the Clicker (you can find these at most pet stores), and follow the click quickly with praise/reward.
• Be consistent with your training and be rigorous when you are training your dog.
Then for the Come command do the same thing.
Say "(your dog's name)....COME!" and when your dog even moves a little towards you, click the Clicker and then hold out a treat (just to get your dog anticipating the Clicker as a good thing!). Pretty soon you will not need to use treats all the time, the vocal praise with the Clicker will be enough (however it is a good idea to sometimes reinforce the obedience from time to time with treats).

It is also a good idea that you use hand signals when you are training your dog so that when your dog is in the distance, but can still see you, it will know what you are commanding and you will not have to yell. Practice asking your dog to come inside your home too. Never call your dog to you for something he will not like (e.g. a bath, or to be told off) as this will hinder your dog's trust in you.It is very important with the Come command that you keep practicing it. In fact, I recommend this is something you practice through-out the life of your dog.

Best of luck with your dogs and please let us know how you get on with their behavior off leash.

Kind Regards,

Mark Edwards
SitStayFetch Team