When you are training with your dog, it is not enough to just work on sit, lay, wait and come. You must integrate your dog’s training into real life. Remember, a Protection Dog can’t protect and a Service Dog can’t serve, if they are not always at your side. In my experience most people who do not take their dogs everywhere with them, don’t do it because they have not yet integrated them into their lives. It is an inconvenience to them so they just leave them at home. It has not yet become second nature…it is stressful. So here are 3 ways to add realistic stress to your training, so that you can take that next step toward truly being a dogman (or woman).
1. Elevate Your Heart Rate
You would be amazed at how much stress you can add to yourself (and to your dog) with a little elevated heart rate. This can be done in several ways:
You can integrate your dog into your home workouts. If you are doing jumping jacks, mountain climbers, push ups, sit ups, box jumps or almost any other exercise, simply put your dog in a sit or lay near you while you work out. In between sets, do a little work with your dog. You will be amazed at how this impacts your obedience elsewhere.
You can add some mild exercise into your current time with your dog. So if you are doing down stays, as soon as you tell your dog to wait, run to the next location. Sometimes call your dog right away, and other times make them wait. This is especially a good workout if your dog gets up a couple of times.
If you have obstacles that allow you to get up on them with your dog, do it. Make sure you do not exceed your own capabilities, but it brings a whole new meaning to “easy” when you can actually fall.
2. Run Scenarios With Your Dog
Remember, the intent here is to increase your ability to take your dog with you more and integrate them into your life. Ere are a lot of simple things we do routinely when out that our dogs can respond negatively to if we don’t train them in advance.
Practice going through doorways with your dog. This happens all the time when we are out. Consider that you may need to mix it up as well. Sometimes you want your dog to go ahead of you. Sometimes you want them to come behind you. And sometimes you want the dog to be at your side. In either scenario where the dog of leading or following, they need to wait patiently. So the dog that leads should enter, sit and wait for you to join him. The dog that must stay and come behind should wait until called, or at least communicated to join you.
Practice walking past someone who is very close. In public, we often have to move in crowds. This means that people are going to be close to us. Your dog must remain in a “foose” (heal) or “defer” (get behind you) or “go on” (move ahead and lead the way. Each of these can be the appropriate choice when in a crowd. Introduce the ideas to your dog while training so that you can integrate them quicker in public.
Sitting down to and getting up from a table. Restaurants. I love taking my dogs to restaurants. We put our dogs under the table and ideally face them toward the rest of the patrons inside. But directing your dog into this position can be frustrating and embarrassing if you have never trained for it at home. Use your dining room table and practice directing your dog exactly where you want them (not where they want to be). Then have a seat. Also practice getting up, not allowing yourself to be rushed and collecting your belongs, preparing your dog’s equipment, and then moving with them out the front door.