Foundational Behaviors

Foundational Behaviors


Linus has been with me for 8 days now and he’s continuing to settle in nicely.  He took his first walk around the block the other day and with the added confidence of being with the other dogs, he did a pretty good job!  I also decided on Friday to start introducing him to some training.

He is one of the rare dogs who is very easy to live with even without any training.  This has made it very easy to live with him without any training but I decided he was settled in enough to slowly start building his confidence with training.  Since he is largely a very easy dog, some of the foundational behaviors I’m teaching him are different from what I would teach a different dog but he’s being introduced to some basics.

I started on Friday with one little session of just introducing the clicker and a few attempts at hand targeting and then a second session spent on shaping, luring, and capturing a down (used all 3).  What I found was that this one on one attention was actually pretty stressful for Linus and he would walk recede to the edge of the couch or get on the couch for a little break (he always had the option to leave).

This video is from the second session we worked.  He was much more comfortable (but still moments of stress) this time around and we practiced hand targets and down and introduced name recognition, and it’s yer choice.  These are all some of the foundational behaviors I teach to new dogs.  These are behaviors that become relatively reliable pretty quickly and are definitely used in daily life once the pup has a general concept understood.



Yesterday I taught Linus how to sit with a hand signal (taught by capturing), started putting the down on cue, and introduced “stand” (just to help him learn to follow a lure).  He is a VERY smart dog and each time we train his tail is starting to wag more and more and his “timeouts” are now pretty rare.

I don’t tend to rush dogs through, but I also don’t like to be stagnant with their training.  I want to keep progressing and moving forward  so once I’m getting reliable behaviors at a certain criteria level I like to move right along. Put it on cue, add distractions, change “the picture” (so change my position, the environment, or some other factor), or increase my criteria.  One of the things that sets trainers apart from novice handlers is that they generally keep moving forward.   Novice handlers often stay at the same ‘level’ for much longer and this can actually inhibit progress.  You have to make sure you have reliability before moving on but you don’t have to practice at the same level for a long amount of time.

1 Comment
  1. “One of the things that sets trainers apart from novice handlers is that they generally keep moving forward.”

    That’s an interesting thought and probably why I have stagnated so much in my recent training with Shiva. The simpler behaviours were easy but now that we are working on more complex things I try to move slowly but perhaps I’ve been moving too slow. This causing our progress to slow as well. I need to learn how to gauge her understanding better so we can move along at a similar rate. Thanks!

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