When training reward value matters. That reward can be many things. From simple contact with you (affection), actual treats as we will focus on here, or in the case of field training the bird is the ultimate reward.
So, it is important to know the value of your ‘treat’ in relation to the training situation. Treat value matters a great deal when it comes to training dogs. You may be able to use dry treats or even kibble when asking for easy, known behaviors at home – or for situations when the treat itself is the distraction to lower the value of the treat. But when you go out into the world and must compete with smells, sounds, and squirrels, those lame treats aren’t going to cut it! And if you’re trying to work on hard things in a high-distraction environment, you’re going to need to some super high value treats.
You get what you pay for when it comes to behavior, so make sure you’re using the right treats for the right activities.
It is critical to remember; the actual value of the treat is up to the dog…so beware the currency rate can and may change on you! Some pups go bonkers for cheese, others lose it over ice cubes or tortilla chips. In my experience, the most expensive treats are not the most valuable to your dog.
Using this visual aide as a pretty good guide:
from left to right 1,2,3 are not high enough in value to be useful for most training scenarios, for most dogs (unless you NEED a low value treat e.g. starting work with ‘leave it’).
4 (stinky jerky treats) You are in the medium value zone, and like the low value treat, it does have it’s use and place in a training program. But when you really need and want your pups attention to get things rolling, go for the big guns.
5,6,7 Be sure to use only teeny tiny bits of these super high value treats. If needed, these treats are high enough value to help you use ‘luring’ to get your dog to do what you want and be of some help in high-distraction environments. I have learned over the years, most dogs like hotdogs in the same way crackheads like free crack. So, use them responsibly and with care.
I have been pretty quiet about what is going on with regards to the second edition of my book The Drentsche Patrijshond for the North American fancier, after all, the book has been sold out now for over two years now. I paid the big bucks a while back and put together an elaborate survey via Survey Monkey and that survey was sent to everyone who purchased a copy of the book. Thankfully, I received some good feedback. Interestingly, what I received is very much what I had expected – I had accurately assessed what people would like, and what the book needed to be more complete. That was a huge win!
Here is where it got sticky. The original fully edited manuscript was lost. Neither my publisher nor I had it. But we did have the PDF file of the pre-production book, which still predated the last round of house cleaning for the production run. So, I cracked the PDF and unleashed a storm of formatting errors – the result of my designer using a host of proprietary fonts. The resulting file did in fact look much like a train of dumpsters flipped into a ditch and set alight. It was a total disaster. I had to put it away it was so bad. Still from time to time I’d open it and try to make corrections. Some efforts were hours long, others just enough to open the file stare fear in the eye and close it. One day I was fooling around and had an epiphany regarding the pattern of auto-formatting the file crack job created. From that point, the clean up job become mission possible. Tedious, mind numbing the task was. Much, like picking grains of rice from a sack of lentils, the task was hours and hours of careful combing – but I did it. I managed to create a clean manuscript.
Still, there was the task of restoring the final print edit. This too was an unenviable task. Some of the edits were subtle, some quite significant. The result of my publisher’s efforts really put a level of polish on the project I was not capable of producing. So, I would set time aside and have a pre-production book as well as a book from the production run set page for page just off to the side, with my trusty laptop and power supply at hand and went word for word. Sentence by sentence. Paragraph by paragraph. Page by page. Chapter by chapter to restore the edits and make adjustments in a few places. This task took longer than I had anticipated, but the work passed smoothly and helped to breathe new life into my desire to see the project through.
With that wind under my wings, I began writing about all the things I wished I had been able to have in the book when it was sent to print, the same things my feedback told me that others wanted. To date I have written 21,000 words and still have more to write. Because the way my creative process works, I make the process a bit more difficult on myself than it really needs to be. It just is what it is, I stopped fighting it a long time ago – but I do still curse it from time to time. These past few weeks I have begun shaping what I have produced into a cohesive piece, so that one idea flows or builds to the next. I thought I had it, then realized I had boxed myself in and so I had to redo the whole thing. Cutting and pasting within a lengthy Word document is tedious. Scrolling up and down, down and up. Finding text and moving it to the right place, highlight text for future editing, and so on. Then identifying what is it that I am missing.
That is right, with 21K written, I most likely still need to write the better part of 10,000 or more words to cover what I have wedged in my headbone. That might be terrifying to many of you, but for me, it’s really not a big deal. My greatest limiting factor with regards to production is my ‘exquisite’ keyboard skill. Putting words to paper, so the speak, comes easy to me and now that I know what I want to write about, it’ll be for me to ‘buckle down’ and throw words at those thoughts until the idea is covered. Like this update, a thought I had last night. And this morning after breakfast, just tap it out in forty-five minutes or so…
In many ways I am glad I wasn’t able to include this new material in the original book. I really wasn’t ready to write about it. I wanted to, but I lacked the confidence needed to write definitively about the topic I wanted to write on. As I was in the process of learning and transition. In the years before and between when I was writing for the first Drent book project and now I have read thousands of research quality and fully cited pages, on canine behavior. Taken online courses, watched hundreds of hours of pro-trainers work with dogs and of course work hands on with a few pros as well. Of particular importance, is to note, more research has been done on the behavior of domesticated dogs in the past fifteen years than the preceding 150 years combined. This research has changed how and what I do with my dogs and after training dogs for a little over forty years has completely changed the way I train dogs.
It is my hope to produce a guide to help my reader to not have to do what I did, it took to long and for my reader it does not have to. You will be gifted with what I have learned regardless of medium, written in my direct conversational story telling style. So when will it be ready? That my friend is a great question. I do plan to make regular updates with regard to the ‘second edition’ from here on out. That alone will help keep me accountable with the whole production effort, as I plan to do it all myself this time and self-publish under my own label. Until next time, take care.
Some of the inquiries we get might surprise you. As you might guess in this day and age, many lack basic common courtesy – the worse of which we simply don’t even acknowledge. The better of which will we provide at least a reasonable, if not short, but professional response. However, recently we fielded an inquiry about how to bring a new puppy home. The answer for this question is best provided by the breeder you have acquired your pup from, or even Google vs some random breeder or person. After all it's not a short answer. A rather odd request from someone who you have not had nor plan to have any future interaction with. I provided some basic info, then reviewed our own puppy related materials and realized it wouldn’t hurt to add to what we have started. So, for that, thank you random person for your questions. This also this helped to make good on a client’s request on putting all this stuff in one place – I didn’t really know how to do it, but this is what I came up with.
Part 1: What is the best way to acclimate a new puppy into the home?
A great place to get setup for success is to review each of the articles highlighted by the hyperlinks throughout this article to include reviewing our Recommended Reading for new puppy owners. Getting Set up for Success is where we talk about all sorts of things ranging from general physical concerns and needs for a rapidly growing puppy's joints & bones, as well as puppy proofing your home & yard. Oh and not to forget, how do you plan to manage the messes that will happen, during your potty training adventures? Additionally, have you nailed down a teething management strategy,? Some pups will chew like a beaver, and others hardly any, but knowing what to do in advance can help shape all of their desires. Have you considered coat care, and the tools and time required? For Drents it’s pretty easy, but still it’s something you should have thought about.
Extending this thought process, you will want to be sure you have a veterinarian selected, if you don’t have one already, well in advance to bringing pup home. Also, what do you plan to feed pup? You don’t need to feed the ultra-expensive stuff to have a happy, healthy dog, but if you are considering to feed Old Roy, you should consider putting yourself on a diet of corn and rice hulls seasoned with charcoal, and for a big night out you guessed it – Top Ramen.
Next, you will also want to have a socialization and training plan thought through in advance. The more comprehensive, the better. At the minimum we strongly encourage everyone to update what they know, or think they know about dog training. A lot has changed with the advent of the scientific study of Canine Behavior: Example 1, Example 2, Example 3. The old concept of Alpha/Dominant v. Submissive is quaint. The old techniques of traditional obedience training are at best boring and repetitive. These methods tend to be unkind, bordering on inhumane. Not even thinking about the old ways of bird dog training which if we are to be frank can be quite barbaric. We can and should do better, by looking towards trainers like Brad Higgins, McCann Dog Training, and Stonnie Dennis, for example. You should seriously consider enrolling pup in a certified AKC S.T.A.R. puppy course and shooting for achieving an AKC Canine Good Citizen certification.
Part 2: How do you Introduce pup to your other dogs?
So, if have been caught be the Drent virus, you are likely adding to your clan. Or if you are recently afflicted, you may still have another dog as part of your clan. Either way, you need to integrate. If you don’t already have a dog, my initial reaction is to pass this up…but my better sensibility says take a moment to read, and let it marinate for a later time – after all, you have the Drent virus, and there is no known cure.
Alright, okay, enough shenanigans – I’ll get to it…well, not to be special, but you are here on my blog so endure. You need to introduce pupski to an established adult dog. So, let us consider the established dog for a moment. Is he a model canine citizen? Let’s be honest, you know him far better than anyone so there is no need to tell any stories or make excuses. Does Fido-1 have separation anxiety, excessive barking, destructiveness, house training issues, aggressiveness/shyness towards other animals/people? If so, you should really work on getting those issues remedied – puppy will not help any at all. What you can expect pupper to do is to pick up some, if not all, of these less than desirable traits unless YOU have a clear and decisive plan, which is likely to involve external onsite assistance. Because the only thing worse that one canine terrorist, is two (or more, God forbid).
Okay, so your current dog is more or less well-adjusted and well behaved. Finding balance is likely the path to success. This doesn’t mean if your dog is a total couch potato you should add Hellfire the Tasmanian Spaziod to the equation - what is or will be complimentary? What temperament and personality will compliment, coexist, or coincide with what you currently have? With some deliberate thought you can create some amazing canine partnerships.
Alright, so The Pup is en route - what to do? Each dog should ideally have its’ own handler – this really can make it or break it if things were to slide sideways. Both dogs should be restrained by a leash initially. Allow them to sniff one another. Expect pup to maybe be a little bit timid or restrained. If so, it may be appropriate to allow the pup off leash to make its own introductions on its’ own terms. In this case restraining the adult dog can be important as they can get over excited and without meaning cause harm to the pup, in particular if much larger and stronger. With a little care, some calmness and patience, introducing pup should be fairly quick and painless. However, pup and Fido-1’s interactions will need to be supervised for the next few days. Play sessions will likely need to be supervised for the next several months, remember avoiding serious injury to pup is paramount – when in doubt call a timeout.
With that in mind, here are a few other tips for success: Be aware and don’t leave yours dogs alone and unsupervised. Avoid free feeding and encourage waiting when it is feeding time. When you offer special treats e.g. chews and/or raw hides, ensure there is enough for all, supervise, and pick them up long before they are fully consumed. Please be sure to have an ample supply of toys and beds. If one toy becomes a point of contention, retire it. Monitor play time be aware of body language and if/when needed redirect and give timeouts as appropriate. To the greatest extent possible give each dog a little bit of its own time.
We believe through daily, structured walks; your dogs will respect you as the boss and look towards you for guidance and direction. Daily, structured walking is a great way to establish your leadership.
After a month of careful supervision, correcting misbehavior, structured walking, and supervised feedings, your dogs will know you are the boss and the new/old dog is not a threat. Once your dogs begin to feel safe with one another, their true personalities will come out and you will have two wonderful pack members to entertain you and love you for the rest of their lives.
Part 3: Crate training - what is that all about?
Some people want to think a dog crate is a punishment tool, when in reality a properly sized crate is your dog’s home inside of your home. This, as you might imagine, has a few benefits like helping to potty train pup, keep pup safe when you can’t supervise him adequately, to name just a few. It is important to have the crate properly sized and built to be safe and secure.
A dog’s crate should be a happy place. The training process can go quite rapidly, or it may take a couple of weeks. Always have in mind, the crate is the dog’s house, and it should be a pleasant place for him. Generally, this can be accomplished without too much ado by breaking the process down into a few steps, just be mindful not to rush.
Introduce pup to the crate. Do so calmly and be sure the door can’t slam around or close. Put some of pup’s favorite things into the kennel along with a few treats. Drop a few treats near the kennel, then just inside the door, then toss a few treats in. Let pup take his time to go in. We familiarize our pups with kennels in the whelping box – so this should be super easy. However, at first, this will be new in his new home, so a little bit of patience will serve you well. Once pup is going in the crate well on his own, be sure to feed him at least once a day, or possibly all his meals for a little while in the crate. At first with the door open, then gradually work towards shutting then even latching the door for short periods. Work up to 10 minutes or so after eating. Here is where things can get tricky, and you will need some will power to get through this. If pup whines in the crate, you did too much too fast and here is the catch, you can’t let pup out while he is whining or crying. You can sit by the door, even place a finger in for pup to smell and help calm him. Once the whining has stopped, and this could be a while in some cases, you may then open the door. If you open the door while the pup is crying it very well may make the association and begin doing much more crying and whining – just what we want to avoid. You may need to have pup close by in his crate at first, and just like ‘playing with the door’ you can adjust proximity. Evening TV time, or some other calm time is perfect for working on building familiarity and comfort.
Also McCann has an entire crate training series which you may find helpful.
Crating pup overnight:
Alrighty, now it is really time to start to work with longer crating periods. We have found doing this while you are at home really is best as you as easily start adding some structure to an already familiar event. Here are your marks:
Yes, this can appear to run a bit contrary to to the whole training process, and frankly can be the most difficult part of crate and potty training – the night shift. Leaving pup out all night is surely going to result in a mess, damage to something, pup getting into things which might harm him, or for a real banner night all or a combo. Crating at night is a must until pup has proven himself reliable in all ways.
Generally, it’s a good idea to put the crate in your bedroom if space permits or nearby in a hallway. Young puppies will need to go potty during the night, and you'll want to be able to hear your puppy BEFORE they whine to be let outside. Put pup in the crate using your regular command and a treat, know what pup’s potty schedule is (going potty just before bedtime is an absolute must), so that you can set a gentle alarm to take him out just before his normally scheduled time. Expect to get up at least 2 times each night for the first few nights. As his day schedule lengthens his night schedule should as well. One bit of advice here is to pick up the water bowl about 2-2.5 hours before bedtime. Soon your dog will be sleeping comfortably through the night with the crate near you, you can begin to gradually move it to the location you prefer, although time spent with your dog—even sleep time—is a chance to strengthen the bond between you and your pet.
Whining - If your dog whines or cries while in the crate at night, it may be difficult to decide whether they’re whining to be let out of the crate, or whether they actually need to be let outside to eliminate. If you've followed the training procedures outlined above, then your dog hasn't been rewarded for whining in the past by being released from their crate. If that is the case, try to ignore the whining. If your dog is just testing you, they'll probably stop whining soon. Yelling at them or pounding on the crate will only make things worse.
If the whining continues after you've ignored them for several minutes, calmly take the pup out of the crate and carry outside. This should be a trip with a purpose, not play time. Give your “go potty” command and give pup a few minutes to get the job done. If he goes potty, give a calm “good boy” and carry back to the crate without a fuss. If he does not potty, then without drama take pup back to his crate. Potty or no potty ends with the same outcome - trips in the middle of the night are for necessity only, and the crate is a requirement until it’s time to start the day. If you're convinced that your dog doesn't need to eliminate, the best response is to ignore them until they stop whining. Don't give in; if you do, you'll teach your dog to whine loud and long to get what they want. If you've progressed gradually through the training steps and haven't done too much too fast, you'll be less likely to encounter this problem. If the problem becomes unmanageable, you may need to start the crate training process over again.
Separation anxiety - Attempting to use the crate as a remedy for separation anxiety won't solve the problem. A crate may prevent your dog from being destructive, but they may get injured in an attempt to escape. Separation anxiety problems can only be resolved with counterconditioning and desensitization procedures. You may want to consult a professional animal-behavior specialist for help.
With that all being said, what does it mean to you having a puppy or dog with a limited Registration? If you have no intent to show your dog in an AKC show ring or breed him/her, then it means very little as all performance events are open to you and there isn’t a negative impact with NAVHDA, or UKC participation.
But what if you would like to keep those options open? And what happens if you want to begin showing your Drent before his/her health clearances can be performed? It is up to your breeder to sign off on the paperwork to revoke the limited status of the registration. First off, your breeder should take an honest look at the dog and evaluate its conformation, possibly even ask a fellow breeder to offer an opinion. In the end, if it is decided your Drent could have a possible show career, then the breeder may endorse the paperwork. But don’t be surprised if your breeder requires to be made a co-owner, at least for the short term. Making the breeder a co-owner still allows the breeder to comply with the Code of Ethics, and retain control over breeding, as all of the future litter registration paperwork will also require the co-owners signature in order to be valid and have the offspring registered with the AKC. Another option that might be offered by your breeder is to have preliminary hip and elbow screening done through OFA. Though these results are not final and cannot be used to satisfy the requirements for breeding per the bylaws, they can be used to identify any developing issues early on.
When it comes to making your Drent available for the DPCNA’s breeding program, this too is something you will want to discuss with your breeder. Easy and inexpensive markers to knock out in the early stages are having a DPCNA e-Conformation conducted, obtaining an AKC CGC title, and maybe leaning forward and having his eyes run through the OFA CAER process. At this point, if the markers are looking good, you may be encouraged to press forward with having an OFA exam of the dog’s hips and elbows completed. Lifting the Limited Registration becomes an appropriate course of action when the documents with passing scores are shared with your breeder.
I can hear the groan you just let out…We are all stuck at home, and the best training article idea you have is to write about ‘sit’ and ‘down’? Well, at the moment, yes, it is, and I’ll tell you why. I’ve trained dogs for over forty years now, mostly using the Old School obedience methods that are still, unfortunately, quite common today. I began transitioning to the LIMA (Least Invasive Minimally Aversive) way several years ago – but to be honest it was not very deliberate until a little over a year ago. The impetus came when Jenna and I had intent to retain a puppy from the Powder X Joeri litter, and then take that puppy to Brad Higgins for her field training. Brad is a highly dedicated and devout LIMA trainer who has developed his own highly effective system for field training… In my research and preparation to take Ila to train with Brad I watched hundreds of hours of videos, read multiple books, signed up for on-line dog training courses and am now beginning to work towards a CPDT-KA or equivalent from an accredited institution.
Great, so what does that have to do with teaching a dog to sit or stay? Well, for most of us who keep dogs in our homes and take them to pubs or other public gathering places (well, hopefully soon we will all be doing this again), when we ask our dog to sit or lay down, our expectation in most cases is for the dog to stay where and as they are put. Yet we still teach ‘stay’ as a separate stand-alone ‘command’. I learned this little trick recently and I think it will forever change how I teach Sit, Down and Stay. I’ve already begun working my already trained dogs on this, and the transition has been seamless and easy.
The process is the same for both ‘command’ sequences - the only difference is in one scenario your dog is sitting and in the other he is laying down. So, without further ado, let’s get to it.
Assuming you have been using my other training articles, your dog has most likely been offering a polite ‘sit’ as a response to get what he wants from you – and if not, you’ll have a little more work to do. Either way you will need a sack of your dog’s favorite training treats and to have your dog on a long lightweight line. A TGK Precision Lead, a 15’ section of biothane cord with a high-quality brass snap on one end and a straight-raw end for the other is a perfect example. Use your bait to lure pup into a sitting position. Be aware of how you hold your ‘bait hand’ which is also your hand-signal hand (this will be important later when you back off the use of the treat). Once pup sits, immediately mark the behavior with a happy ‘yes’ and treat. Next you will use a release cue, consider “all done” (I have a really bad habit of using ‘okay’ which is used way to often in conversation to make it a good choice for a release cue – my producer nearly choked me out during a day of shooting…). With pup finishing his reward, say ‘all done’ and lead the dog a few steps away. Ask/lure him into a sit, ‘yes’ him, treat him, give ‘all done’ and move again. That is the basic drill to get started with. In this early work, more or less, anticipate your dog to break the sit and if he does, simply lift the line straight up and give a tiny bit of upward pressure and a gentle ‘jiggle’ to encourage pup to once again sit. Once he does give him the happy ‘yes’ as before. As his sit response improves taper off the use of the bait. Additionally, you will transition to having your treat in a pocket to be awarded only for the crispest most perfect sits – be sure to use the same hand configuration whether you are using a treat or not. This will teach him the verbal cue and the hand signal. Do not move to the next phase until your dog is reliably sitting on cue with little to no treats involved.
For phase two we begin to introduce a waiting period for the pup. Here are the steps:
1) Ask pup to sit, you pick up a foot as if to step back, but don’t. If pup remains seated mark the behavior with a happy ‘yes’, treat, give the release cue ‘all done’ and move to a new spot. Wash, rinse, repeat until you have confidence in pup’s reliability to stay seated. If pup chooses to break his sit, use the same corrective measure described above. It’s a very low threat and no drama way to help make your point, in these early stages where you begin to move, watch pup closely to anticipate him breaking before you offer the release cue. If you are experiencing trouble, just keep your session short, check your frustration and go back to a step where pup was successful.
2) Once you have that, now work towards taking a step backwards with one foot. Just as before, give the cue to sit, he sits, you step back, then return. If he stayed seated, mark the behavior with a ‘happy yes’, then release with an ‘all done’ and move away with pup. Again, work this step until you have a reliable behavior from pup.
3) This next step is the same as before, but you will now introduce dropping the rope into the mix. Like as before, give the cue to sit, he sits, you then drop the lead followed by taking a step back, then return. If he stayed seated, mark the behavior with a happy ‘yes’, then release with an ‘all done’ and move away with pup.
4) This next step very similar as before, but you will now introduce a full step using both feet. As before, give the cue to sit, he sits, you then drop the lead followed by taking a step back with one foot, then the other, smartly return to pup. If he stayed seated, mark the behavior with a happy ‘yes’, then release with an ‘all done’ and move away with pup.
5) Exactly as step 4 but take three steps back.
6) Just like step 5 but now take six steps back.
7) You know the drill quite well now, as does pup. We continue to proof the sequence by now taking ten steps back. This may all sound tedious, but each increment adds a small layer of complexity to the task. Once pup really has it down, you can add distractions to the environment, but when you do, be sure to work closer to pup and work outward like you already have done. If pup struggles with a new distance, just go back to a distance where he was successful and get him a taste of success again. The process is the same for down and you will have taught your dog to stay while doing this. No unnecessary ‘commands’ to give when you build the skills you desire in a commonly used sequence.
I'm just a guy suffering with an infatuation with gundogs since childhood. Fifty some years later this is what you get.