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.
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. Forty some years later this is what you get.