Mo, the mini Australian Shepherd, was one of our dog trainees from Atascadero this last week that learned some basic obedience. Sometimes we have a ton of large dogs – lots of German Shepherds and Labs – and other times we have lots of sweet little dogs. (We know that Mini Shepherds are necessarily little, but all dogs are little after owning a Great Dane!) Anyway, Mo came to us with no rules. He’d run when he’d get the chance, wander all over the place on a walk completely ignoring his handler, and displayed typical untrained dog behavior. By the end of the week, he was one of our favorite dogs!
Most of our dog have no prior experience with an e-collar. That’s where we come in! We love introducing our dogs-in-training to an e-collar. They may resist at first but it gives them freedom in the end. Remember: discipline = freedom (also a book title by Jocko Willink). By using a structured routine and training program, we are able to allow the dogs to have more freedom in their futures. They are aware of the decisions they are expected to make and are able to easily make them after a week of structured training.
Mo was one of the dogs that needed structure! The first step was to get him used to the e-collar and his new environment for the next week. It was also important that he learn who was in charge – we are, not Mo. Once we got those ground rules set, it was time to work on “Place”. This is our go-to beginning command. They learn how to interact with the e-collar with this command. They learn the space and what our expectations are. This command is also easy to start with low distraction, just us and the dog. We find that a few rounds of teaching this command from the beginning is very tiring mentally for the dog and they’ll happily take a nap.
After we’ve learned a bit more about each other, how the e-collar works, and have taken a short break, we’ll take the dog out on a structured walk to teach “heel”. We start with the leash on and slowly work up to off-leash walks. This video of Mo is just before his return home. We have graduated to off-leash walks with the leash for safety. While on the walk, we work on down, stay, and heel, lots of commands at once.
Our training is just the beginning of a new life for each dog that we train. It is up to you to continue the structure at home. This includes crating your dog at night for at least 3 months after his training sessions with us. Daily walks need to be structured – no sniffing or stopping other than to potty. In the house, the dog should be practicing “place” with duration. This way, you can confidently put your dog in place when a guest comes to visit or when you walk in the front door. We find that teaching and focusing on these simple commands (place, sit, down, stay, and heel) a lot of other unwanted behaviors disappear.
So what are you waiting for?! We love training dogs and changing lives. Let us help you!