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SG Susan Garrett
SG It's not every day that you get an implementation of a previous podcast but today's your lucky day. Hi, I'm Susan Garrett. Welcome to Shaped by Dog. And today what I'm going to do is I'm going to help you implement everything that I taught you in podcast episode number 134. Or should I say ‘masterclass number 134’ where I shared with you exactly how I teach my dogs control positions like sit and stay.
I don't use the word stay. I explained that. But sit or down or stand. Or if you're doing agility, you'll want a dog who waits at a start line or holds position at the end of their contacts if you don't have running contacts or whatever sports specific skills that are required. Obedience, you need dogs to do stays or recall or not leave to get the dumbbell before I tell you to.
All of those things, we are going to help you implement what I taught. And we had a couple of questions. So, I'm going to bring some clarity to what we talked about in the last episode plus you're going to have to remind me, but I've got four gifts. Count them four, 1 2 3 4. In Canada that's one less than five and one more than three. We have metric, I don't know if it's the same in your country but anyway let's jump right into it.
So, we're talking about teaching our dogs to really buy into this idea that they want to hold position. You know when I was first teaching ItsYerChoice I just described it as an impulse control game. But I really have backed off on using that phrase because it implies that our dogs are constantly having to control their urges to do something that we don't want them to do. And it kind of puts all of the responsibility on them. “Well, you better get yourself some impulse control there, Buckaroo.” And when I say that everything is just ItsYerChoice now all the responsibility is on us as the dog owners, because it's the dog's choice.
Everything is the dog's choice. Do you want to leave your sit and go and steal the food on the counter? Well, it's your choice. Because my role as your owner is to make correct easy and incorrect hard. That's my role. And if you think that’s an option, or it’s one of your choices to leave your control position and go and see if there's cookies on the counter, I haven’t done my job clear enough. I really haven't.
So, let's start with the gift number one. I have for you a download and how you're going to get this is you are going to put your name and email address in a box that will be in the show notes, or if you're watching this on YouTube in the description. And yes, I know people ask you to put your name and email address in but by now we have a relationship, right? You know I'm going to do you a solid. I'm never going to misuse that name. And if I want to use your email address it will only be to share with you amazing information. And starting with this. So, in our last podcast I talked about the layers of progression, the stages of learning.
And this is from podcast episode number 44. I actually showed the stages of learning progression chart. I have it in a fancy, (I'm going to try and keep the glare off if you're watching this on YouTube), laminate this baby, put it up on the wall or put it in a page protector and put it in a binder so you can refer to it always. It will help you keep correct as easy and incorrect as hard.
Now does that mean that for my five-year-old dog who has been raised in this program I can only do like a one second sit stay with no distractions in sight because I need to make correct easy? No. Because we add layers of learning to our dog. So, I can take a puppy pretty much at three months of age and throw all kinds of really challenging distractions at them because I've kept the correct easy. And once they continue to get correct, I add a challenge.
And that leads me to the second gift. I feel like Oprah right now. You get a download, and you get a download, and you get a download. Next one is the 5C Pyramid. Now I changed this about two years ago, but this 5C Pyramid, it's kind of like a guiding light. It's a north star for training because all training starts with connection with you and your dog. So, if you want to train your dog and they're off being distracted and we want to work a control position, that can create some anxiety in our dogs.
We want to make sure we're on the same page that the dog is excited and wants to do something with it. I call that the D of DASH. I've talked about here on podcast episode 57. The D of DASH is the desire. It's the connection. So, we get the connection and then we create clarity. Now, as I spoke about it in our last episode, clarity is what to do. Clarity is that box that tells the dog here's your behavior, this is what I want you to do.
And for me it starts something as easy as just tug and don't jump on me when I take the tug out of your mouth. Here's your behavior. I'm creating clarity with respect to what is all the criteria that I'd like you to acknowledge about: number one the behavior, what to do, and number two, when it's over. So very important that you keep that straight, guys. It's two behaviors we need our dogs to understand. Later in this podcast I'm going to share a test with you so that you can be listening to this podcast walking your dog and you can just, boom! It’s kind of like one of our learn, walk, and train podcast episodes except it's a little different.
So, I'm going to give you a test and I'm going to share with you how you can do this with your own dogs. But it starts with clarity of what you have to do and when it's over. That's what we want our dogs to understand. Super clear. Once we have that we grow confidence. And the confidence comes from just small layers.
We need to not jump to like university or PhD level when we've just introduced a skill. And once our dog says, “Oh yeah, I can do that.” How do you know what that is? Those are mini little challenges. The first challenge I give my puppies is the challenge of time. Can you move away from me for one second? Boom. Then I say, “get it”.
Can you move away and adopt a different position, a sit or a down? Boom, one second. Earns it. And then I might grow that time to 1 to 3 seconds and then I might grow that time 1 to 10 seconds.
Now note, I'm saying the time might grow from 1 to 3 and 1 to 10 or one second to one minute. Guys, you don't always go 1 to 10, 10 to 20, 30 to 40, 50 to 60, because that is putting a strain and creating anxiety for the dog who always has to do more for you. They never know when it's going to be over because it might just be one second and let's have another party. The party is, when it's over.
That's how we build confidence in the dogs. So they don't have to keep staying longer and longer and longer. And then the next layer in our 5C formula is that of challenge. And within that layer of challenge, we start with time but then we grow other distractions. And that's where my third gift comes for you.
Now, this one you can just download it. It's a list of 25 challenges that I could suggest to you that you might ask your dog to do. So put your dog in a sit and then open the cookie jar. What happens? “Oh, cookies!” Remember it's your dog's choice. The dog's choice is just answering the question “How well did I teach that?”
And you might think, “No Susan I did a great job teaching it. He's just not performing it that way.” Doesn't work like that. Really. You see your understanding of what I'm teaching you is dependent on how good of an instructor I am. You're listening so a lot of you aren't even watching this, so it makes it much more difficult.
I have to be super clear. I have to inspire you to want to learn. I have to give you great visuals so you can see what I want. At the end of the day it's up to me to really get my message across if I want you to grow your dog's understanding without using intimidation or luring. Because I really think in this instance, luring slows down the learning. It absolutely does. I talked about that in episode number 134.
So, we have our 5C Pyramid. We've got the challenges and things like, you know, if you ask your dog to ‘hop it up’ in a Hot Zone, open your training bag, pull out their favorite toy. What do they do? Boom. Do they run and instantly grab it? You put it back in, you close it.
ItsYerChoice but I've controlled the environment. So, it's easy for you to understand that wasn't acceptable. So, I don't take it out and then fight with you as soon as I'm being present to what your choice is, as soon as I pull that toy out and I see you take your first step off the bed, I'm putting it back in and zipping it up.
I'm not yelling at you. I'm not saying “Ah-ah wrong.” I'm not going to “Stay, stay, stay.” It's just your choice. ItsYerChoice.
And so, as I mentioned in the last episode, the very worst thing that might happen is I might take my dog’s collar. Let's say they step off the Hot Zone. I might take my dog's collar and either put some pressure to bring them further off the Hot Zone.
I call that like an Osteo Game. Like, “Do you really want to come off the Hot Zone?” and a lot of them go “Uh, no, no, no, no. I should be up here, shouldn't I?” Or I just gently guide them back. How do you know which one to do? I generally guide them back and if they've played the Osteo Game with me, it’s a fun game. If they respond to it in a negative way, it's not a fun game, guys.
If you find you've had to take your dog's collar every training session, you have moved way too fast. You made the incorrect easy. You did not keep the correct as easy. Remember, get clarity at what we want our dogs to do. In the last episode, I share with you how I teach my own dogs what to do and when it's over so I can grow the gap in the middle called, duration, organically by their understanding of what to do and when it's over.
But there are some of you who said “Oh Susan, you started with tug, you lost me right away. My dog doesn't tug.” I guess it was implied but not well understood because I failed you as your trainer. Just like your dog making a bad choice is telling you that you failed them as their trainer.
So let me just go over this one more time. I like to create what to do in a game of tug. So, I just shape with a tug toy. My dog would love to tug so I start with puppies, but I could start this with a rescue dog. They love to tug; I pull it out of their mouth. What will you do? If they're on a leash, there's not a lot of things they can do. So, they just back away from me, and I give it again. I wait until they offer something. A sit, a down, and then I give them until I can consistently get a sit. And then I just immediately get the sit, I say “get it”, pull out the tug toy, “get it”, pull out the tug toy.
And then I'm going to add a new challenge. And I might pull out the tug toy but not say “get it”. And the dog is going to fail. And that's okay because it's failing within a game. I just pull that tug toy and they go, “Oh crap. Oh crap. What was I doing? I didn't hear the word get it.” That's how we create complete understanding of when it's over. I'm going to test you both on how to hold the position and when it's over.
Think about the very first time anybody taught you how to teach a dog to stay. Did they give this kind of clarity to the dog about when it's over or did they just say ‘okay’ and then help the dog to move out of a position?
The dog's got to want it. It's their choice. You shouldn't have to lure them. You shouldn't have to pull them. So, I'm teaching them ‘get it’ with a toy. And then for those of you who don't have a dog that's toy motivated yet, no big deal. Shaping happens pretty darn good with food. So, you do the same thing with a bowl of food. You get your bowl out. Your dog's excited because you have super high value rewards in that bowl.
And you might say the word “search”, throw a cookie, the dog dives on it. Pretty soon they're going to be bouncing off you. You just withhold reinforcement until they move away or offer a position. And then you just reward that and say the word “search” and throw a cookie. Very quickly, you're going to not throw the cookie until they move from the position when you say search.
It's amazing how this works. We're teaching them this is the indicator that tells you when it's over and this is what I'd like you to do. So, you do it the same way with a bowl of food. And I call that the ‘sit tug sit game’.
You could be calling it the ‘sit search sit game’, right? And then we introduced ItsYerChoice. Now the dog has already heard the word search from you. So now you might put a cookie on the floor as you progress the layers of understanding, the 5C's of ItsYerChoice. And you might tap the floor. That's a challenge. It's your choice. Do you want to break position to dive on that cookie when I tap the floor? Some dogs will.
I just cover it up with my hand and the Dog will “Oh yeah. What was I doing? I didn't hear the word search.” They'll go back into the sit. We need clarity before we add distractions of ‘let's throw tennis balls. Let's you know, bang on the floor. Let's do some super-hard things and prove to these dogs and puppies they got to sit.’ No. Create clarity around when it's over.
So, we've got a dog who now will break their sit when they hear the word search. Put it into Crate Games. Same thing, lots of feeding and position. Open the door, “Do you want to come out?” You didn't hear when it's over, I'm closing that door. You're going to keep doing this until the hold position. And then you can start by smacking the toy on the ground. It's a challenge. We put in the challenge of time first.
Will you hold position in the crate with time? Now we're challenging with the smacking of the toy. And the dog goes to move. They just lower their head. You just close the door. No yelling. No “Ah-ah wrong”. Just close the door. No big deal. Then you open the door.
You should be taking nice, deep calming breaths through this whole thing, because it's a fun game. There should be no anxiety in you or your dog. Now I'm going to put my tug toy back on the ground and they go, “Oh yeah, I don't move.” So now you're gonna say “Get It!” They're going to fly out of their crate and grab the toy and we're going to tug.
Eventually I'm going to say “break” before I say, “get it”. I've got a new when it's over word. So, I don't need to keep putting a toy down to get my dog to come out. So, it's the sit tug sit, or the sit search sit. ItsYerChoice. It's Crate Games. It's a little bit of Collar Grab. You can move into Hot Zone, but really don't skip over Crate Games it’s super important.
Your test. Here's what I want you to do. If you're out walking your dog, you can do this while you're walking. If you're at home, just have your dog come beside you and sit beside you in what I call Reinforcement Zone. Dog on left, dog on right. I want you to do it on both sides. Now you're going to take a cookie and you're going to lift it up in the air and see what your dog does.
Does he scooch his body a little bit sideways so we can kind of get out in front and see the cookie. He doesn't understand what to do or when it's over, because you didn't say a word that meant it's over and you asked him to sit and he kind of scooched. So, sitting doesn't mean scooching in my criteria land.
So, you need to go back and help your dog understand what sit means. Make correct easy. So, if you've got a dog who will sit, and you can try this twice if you want. Pull up a cookie, now the dog scooches, you put the cookie back, help them get back into Reinforcement Zone. Try it again.
If they keep failing, they're telling you, “Yeah, this is what you taught me.” It's their choice, remember? “This is what you taught me.” “Oh, okay. Well, I can do better than that.”
Now, your dog holds a position, you're going to say, mark it “good”, give a cookie. I want you to do that five times with really high value cookies. As long as they don't move. They're not to move in between your five cookies. Cookie up, you can touch your hip if you want, give the Reinforcement Zone. You're going to give them five cookies.
Then what you're going to do is you're going to put your hands at your side, even close that eye closest to the dog. Stand perfectly still. Feel the pull of gravity coming down straight all the way from your skull, all the way through the earth. You are completely still. And then you're going to give your when it's over word “break”.
Does your dog move? If they didn't then you have muddied their understanding of when it's over likely by moving.
So that dog’s cue and emotion far better than they do words, but we need them to understand ‘when it's over’ is a word. I can move sometimes when I'm saying it, I can stand still sometimes when I'm saying it.
Did you understand it this time? And how did your dog do? I'm hoping they did brilliantly. And I'm hoping that you let it be their choice. If they tried to make a mistake you just said, “Because I didn't teach you what I thought I taught you.” You didn't go “Ah-ah no!”. It's not the dog who is wrong. An error is made, it's up to us in the way we trained it.
My fourth gift I have for you. There's a lot of moving pieces into understanding is reinforcement-based, game-based dog training. But it's so worth your time because you create this connection with your dog. You create this oneness that you guys get each other.
And it's the congruency that you can live your life with peace that you understand how to create behaviors you want without losing your temper or getting, you know, angrier bringing your shoulders near your ears because you can't believe your dog did that.
Because you understand now that our dogs are always doing the best they can, with the education we've given them in the environment that we put them in.
So, if you would like our help in applying these concepts, there'll be a link in the show notes. There'll be a link in the description here on YouTube that will give you an opportunity to join our Home School the Dog program where we teach you every single one of these games, with the exception of Crate Games, that is a standalone game. There'll be a link to that one as well.
But Home School the Dog is a coaching program. A program where my team and I coach you for four months. It normally is a program that we sell for $300. Well, I'm lying. It’s a little short, it's like $297. You can find it on our website, in the store for $297. For people who are listening to this who really want to understand how to apply reinforcement-based game-based learning to create clarity in the behaviors with their dog, click on the link and you can have Home School the Dog for only $49.
That is my fourth gift. Remember anytime we're teaching our dogs, any kind of control behavior, it really is always dependent upon our dogs having complete understanding of all of the criteria of what to do. That, plus their complete understanding of the word or phrase that tells them when it's over. Independent understanding, independent of your movement, independent of their environment.
“What to do, what's my behavior.” “How long do you want me to do it?” “When is it over?” “It's not over till I hear that word.” When you create that clarity, you can then throw these challenges at your dog that helps grow the duration. But the duration is built organically by the dog being engage in a game that they understand is ‘I stay here till I hear when it's over’.
Listen, if this extra addition is helping you to apply the concepts that I taught in episode number 134 was a value to you, I'd love to get your feedback. So come on over to YouTube and leave me a comment or go to our shapedbydog.com website and leave me a comment there. Let me know if this was helpful and also let me know how your dog did on those two tests.
I'll see you next time here on Shaped by Dog.