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Tuesday, April 28, 2009

24-Hour Dog School

When I was a little kid, my dad used to tell me he'd gone to the "School of Hard Knocks." Until I was about 10 years old I thought that was somewhere in Kentucky.

What he meant was he'd learned life's lessons through living. That's the best education in the world for most critters, whether they have two legs or four legs.

Lots of you have taken your dog through classes, but what happened after that? Did you leave the classroom and its lessons behind? Or did you bring it all home with you? How often do you use the commands your dog learned in school? How many of you use them correctly....with properly timed enforcement and reward?

If you're not sure what all that means, I suggest you repeat the class or get yourself into another one. Dogs aren't programmable computers. They won't "sit" on command every time for everyone. There's a way, a method, for asking them to do something, and you are responsible for knowing that! If your dog has been to school, but no longer obliges your commands as obediently as he once did, it's YOUR fault and not your dog's. You have forgotten how to ask in a way he understands and respects.

So get yourself tuned up, and then implement the 24-hour school program at your house. Ask your dog to do things for you, day in and day out...but ask correctly, with enforcement and reward, just as you would in school. If you need motivation, pretend the teacher is watching you! In other words, if you ask your dog to sit, ASSIST HIM INTO THE POSITION rather than repeat the command. Then reward him with praise, release, or something else of a positive nature (be careful with food treats...dogs can get manipulative!)

It's 3:45pm and so far today I've given Lizzie only six commands--basically a couple sits, several comes, and a curb. She's responded correctly to each of them. She knows the teacher is watching.

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