Remember to PAY the dog!
Force-free and positive techniques are extremely important to us at Rhodes 2 Safety. We like, as much as possible, to teach skills and techniques to our dogs that make them confident and calm with the behaviours we are asking of them. Rather than using force and old school “alpha” techniques, we generally go down the route of reinforcing behaviours with yummy high value treats – well, you wouldn’t expect to do a job for your boss for no wages would you? With care and time, you can see huge leaps in your dog’s learning and each of these behaviours can make your life, and theirs, a whole lot easier. Just remember the mantra “reward the behaviours you want to see more of”. The more times an animal performs a behaviour and receives a prize for doing it, the more likely you are to see that behaviour again in the future.
Why do we need a Targeted Chin-Rest?
As you know, baby Coda has now joined our team (he is currently 15 weeks old and soaking up information like a sponge). With each new puppy, it’s back to the drawing board teaching the behaviours that we need to get a calm and confident dog in as many situations as possible. In this clip, we have started teaching Coda a targeted chin-rest, so that we can use it in various situations when we need him to stand still. For example, if we take him to the vet to be examined, we want to know that he is comfortable and confident having the vet going over him. The way we achieve that level of husbandry confidence is by teaching him to place his chin on a target while the examination is going on. If he is happy being touched, he will remain in position with his chin rested on the target. If he becomes stressed or unhappy about it in any way, he will take his chin off the target and the examination will stop. The examination will not recommence until he “gives his consent” and replaces his chin.
Obviously, this is a behaviour that takes time to work on and it’s something that we do with all the dogs regularly. This is only our second session of introducing Coda to the target and, at this stage, we are just getting him used to the concept of recognising the target and positioning his chin on it to receive his reward. Over time, we will extend the duration of the chin-rest and couple it with him being touched to simulate a veterinary examination.
(NB. I am not a professional dog trainer and I know I must make tonnes of mistakes as I try to learn with my dogs. I’m certainly no different from any of you – I’m just a person with a pet dog trying to make all our lives easier. I’ve spent years picking up tips, learning techniques and asking for help from as many trainers and professionals I know as possible – but the thanks for the guidance and instruction on this technique goes to the fab Lothlorien Dog Team. Click here for Lothlorien Dog Services)