Monday, 12 June 2017

When to stop talking (to your dog)

Watching a group of dog trainers and owners struggling to stop talking to their dogs in a full day workshop was the highlight of my weekend. It’s harder than you might think!

Clare and I travelled down to Worcestershire to teach “Living with and training a deaf dog” for the Association of Pet Dog Trainers activity weekend. Some people brought their own deaf dogs, but many were taking the challenge of training their hearing dog without using any spoken commands.

Once everyone chose and practiced a marker sign (the physical version of a clicker), we worked on attention, check-ins, tapping, targeting and then only Rally, Obedience and Agility skills.

What did they learn?

The delegates with hearing dogs could clearly see how much more focused and attentive their dogs were to silent training (apart from the laughter when it went wrong!).

Deaf dog owners came away really thinking hard about consistency with their signs – do they look the same if your dog is by your side versus standing in front? Timing is so important, but so is where you place your hand to make the marker sign.

A wee challenge for you

I want you to try training without talking, really no talking. Hand signals are fine and you probably use them a lot anyway. But no telling your dog to lie down, or to heel, or to give paw. See what happens – does your chatter make any difference? Does shutting up actually improve your dog’s concentration?

I’d love to know how you get on with the challenge.

Have a great week

Morag and the collie girls

PS the marker sign I most commonly teach gained the affectionate name of “spasming starfish”, just ask me to demonstrate next time I see you…

PPS If you want to sharpen up your training skills, I have just two places left on our Dog Training Fundamentals one-day workshop on Saturday 8th July


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