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Silence Predicts…Action!

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If you compete in a dog sport where there might be “stillness” before you start work (obedience and rally come to mind), then you’ll want to teach your dog not to go to sleep when you stop moving.  Realistically, it’s likely that when you enter the obedience ring you’ll have to stand there for about 15 to 30 seconds before the judge sends you on your way.

Train for that.  Teach your dog that standing quietly and formally means that something interesting is about to happen and that they wont want to miss it!

In my classes I call this “exploding tree”.  The idea is to be absolutely inert – until you explode with energy.

In this video I show this with three dogs using three different motivators.

The first dog is Raika.  Because Raika is a driven dog who tends to heel very close, I throw her ball out and away from my body to prevent problems with crowding.

The second dog is Brito.  He’s a lower drive dog with a fragile temperament, so for Brito, I explode directly forwards and he chases me (and the cookie) to get it. Notice that I also give him cookies while he sits and waits quietly.  I’m doing this to help him learn to hold a sit – doing nothing can be rewarded.  But if that’s all I do, then his first steps of forwards heeling are likely to be slow and lacking energy.  Eating in position followed by an explosive cookie chase forwards takes care of this.  Note that I would not do with a dog that was prone to forging out of the sit.  I would simply reward in position.

The final dog is Lyra.  Her reward for exploding forwards is personal play.  Note that she makes horrible noises.  That’s fine – it’s her style of play.  What I care about is that she drive forwards when I do.

Most dogs do very well with this method and soon you’ll find that they are a good deal more attentive in heel position.  It’s not even important if they are watching when you do it- they’ll soon learn to watch you so that they can catch the first nano second of movement!

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.

2 responses »

  1. Denise another brilliant article.Thanks for posting this as I will certainly be using it!!

  2. Nancy Gagliardi Little

    Wonderful article!! This is one of the most important skills you can teach your dog. If you do it right, the longer you delay the more your dog’s eyes will pop out with desire. And with each class you progress through, there are more and more delays and quiet moments that the dogs have to learn. Any dogs trialing in Utility will have to really feel good about pauses.


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