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Learning to Listen

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Like all animals, dogs are creatures of habit and routines.  If you show your dog the same training picture over and over, they will stop listening to your cues and simply perform the patterns that you have trained them to do.

If you want your dog to pay attention then give your dog a reason to bother!  As a nice bonus, you will solve a few problems:

First, dogs stop anticipating exercises.  Your dog cannot anticipate what they don’t know.

Second, dogs pay closer attention because they have no choice if they want to succeed.  If you train this way regularly you’ll find that your dog’s attention to you increases as a nice side effect.

Third, dogs LIKE to use their brains, just like people!  When you make work more interesting by varying your requests, they enjoy their work more because you have reduced or eliminated the boredom that is inherent in pattern training. And dogs that are having fun work better in the ring.

Here’s an unedited video of Brito working on a combination of broad jump, signals and recalls.   He makes mistakes!  That’s ok.  I simply help him out by offering additional cues (pointing, combining signals with verbals, etc.) to allow him to succeed.  As long as he’s trying, I’m happy to help him out.  We’re a team.


About dfenzi

I'm a professional dog trainer who specializes in building relationship in dog handler teams who compete in dog sports. My personal passions are Competitive Obedience and no force (motivational) dog training. I travel throughout the world teaching seminars on topics related to Dog Obedience and Building Drives and Motivation. I own Fenzi Dog Sports Academy, a comprehensive online school for motivational training of performance sport dogs.

6 responses »

  1. Nice job mixing it up. Sometimes I think we get stuck in patterns as much as the dog.

  2. What is your criteria for that training session ? before starting work session what kind of planning do you work thru before starting? your little dog is wonderful.

    • My first criteria is always to have a good time – both of us. From there, it depends what he shows me. If he makes one error I help him. If he makes two I see what I can do about making it easier. if he makes three errors I give him a screw-up cookie because I obviously over-faced him, and we move on. I make a mental note to break it down for him at a different time.

      I don’t have criteria for generic training session beyond enjoyment of the time together. That is different than skill building sessions where I am more likely to have a clear idea of what I want to teach. But, in theory, he knows all of these pieces -we’re just working through the confusion of putting them all together.

      He is wonderful! I will let him know you said so. I’m sure he will appreciate that :).

  3. Brito looks amazing!! And good training advice as usual😊.

  4. Wonderful dog Denise and great advice as always. Dogs work so much better when they have fun! Thanks for posting these blogs.

  5. I see a lot of joy in this training session. All training sessions should be like this. Brito looks so happy! Inspiring!


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