We've kept 'ticking over' on our leisurely walks but nothing overly strenuous or heart pounding.
I've been so glad to see so many Tweets about not leaving dogs in cars during this weather too.
|Dogs Die In Hot Cars!!|
- A car can reach nearly 50 degrees in less than ten minutes
- A dog can die after just 20 minutes - even with the window open
We always break our training down into phases & blocks, everything we do - we completely break down. It's an effective training method & one which gets constant tweaking as we search for the 'best' results. Every single exercise is initially broken down into tiny blocks before putting them altogether (chaining) to produce the finished article.
We're aiming to write a Blog on 'chaining' when training dogs - so keep your eyes peeled on that one!
Property searching is a prime example as to how we do this. Initially we get the pups to go & 'search' for the item. We're not overly fussed about what they do when they 'find' it, initially it's all about them realising they have to use their nose to locate items.
Once they've mastered the searching & finding, we start to develop & shape the behaviour to ensure the dog doesn't 'interfere' with the item once he's located it.
After we've got him finding items, we then shape how we want the dog to 'indicate' on the property in different scenarios. For example, Sear will now indicate on items on the floor by lying down with the property close to his paws - if the property item is located off the floor ie on a fence, Sear will indicate by sitting.
Every single excercise is broken down to shape each part of the dogs behaviour, until the point comes where they are doing everything exactly as we want them too.
Sear is just over 5 months old, and we now move into the 'Second Phase' of his training to become a fully fledged Police Dog - this is where the real work starts!
A question we get asked a lot is "When will he actually go & start his training?" - and the very simple answer is - "he already is". We've been training & developing his Police Dog skills since the day we had him.
Police dog training isn't just about teaching a dog to bite, follow a track, find people etc, they need to be confident within any environment. I've seen Police Dogs fail initial licensing courses because they are scared of the dark or they won't walk on a wet, slippy surface. So it's vitally important that the dogs experience as much as they can in their early lives.
It's relatively easy to train a dog all of the ACPO specified exercises, however to get a dog over a phobia (like hating slippery floors) is a really hard thing to do. So the environmental work is absolutely the most important thing we can do with our dogs.
Like I said in our 'Puppy Walking Blog', all that is really expected of people bringing up pups as part of a puppy walking scheme, is “for the puppy walker to hand over a well-balanced, confident and social dog at the end of the year.”
Phase 1Everyone who has seen Sear's YouTube channel will have seen just how far he has progressed from a training point of view over the past few months.
However, what we haven't captured is the 'environmental' based training we do over that time as well.
We have to remember that Sear is still a baby really. At 5 months old he's still really young & whilst we do lots of training with our pups - we also let them be pups.
It's nice when they are naughty (within reason!!) and I never put any control into them via compulsion. Everything we do is positive play orientated - the dog doesn't even realise it's 'training' cause it's always part of a bigger game.
It's sometimes easy to forget just how young they are when they're completing exercises you see adult dogs struggle with - & I must admit sometimes I do have to reign myself in now and again!
So what do we cover in the first Phase of his training?
The most critical thing I do with the pups is to develop a really strong bond with them. It really is the most crucial part of what we do.
Whenever we pick up a new pup, I always have at least 10 days where I'm not working & just spend the time with the new pup. I put most of our success with the pups down to this - the bond.
Never underestimate the impact a strong bond with the dog has. He'll gain confidence and reassurance from you, so if there's something he's not that keen on, he'll draw the confidence to complete the exercise from you. Ultimately the pup will want to do anything he can to please me.
|Sear on a bench at train station|
As a result we put lots of time into taking the pups to all sorts of places - we literally take them to somewhere different & obscure everyday. Train stations, bus stations, busy high streets, shops, schools, car garages - literally anywhere we can expose the pup to all sorts of weird & wonderful things. And believe me - in Birmingham & The Black Country there are lots!!
Everyday they are walked around these places, up & down staircases, in lifts, escalators. We put them on top of uneven surfaces, shiny floors, wet floors, slippy floors - trying to create the types of scenarios they'll experience in their working lives. It's very rare a dog will have to track & detain a person across a beautifully kept field in Birmingham!
|Sear on a staircase|
Toilet training, crate training, sit, stay, lie etc etc - all of which are essential in progression to 'Police Dog' training exercises. For any dog the most important 5 commands are SIT, LIE, STAY, HEEL & HERE - if you can master these commands at home & while you are out walking your dog, you will very rarely go wrong & hopefully have a trouble free dog.
All of our training is done through high drive, reward based play - all done using a clicker.
At 10-12 weeks old we've got a fully toilet trained pup, sleeping through the night who will sit, lie and recall pretty much every time. The heel & stay take a little longer.
Another great follow on Twitter and for dog stuff generally is @leerburg . Some of the work Michael Ellis does with his pups is the benchmark for us. I was feeling quite smug about what we'd got Sear to do - until we saw Michael Ellis' video on YouTube recently!!
Once we've mastered the basic obedience commands - we start to move onto the more 'Police Dog' orientated exercises. Property searching, control work, bite work, more advanced heel work & human scent tracking. We play lots & lots of hide & seek games - if I could reccomend one game to play with your dog, any dog even your pet dog . . it's Hide & Seek!!
You can see a lot of the work we've done on our YouTube Channel
We'll then work on these exercises & develop their behaviour during their daily walks. It becomes that much of a routine - the pups don't even realise their practising everyday. It just becomes part of those fun & enjoyable daily regular walks.
In addition, we do also take the pups out for 'focussed' sessions. So we'll go out and specifically work on one thing i.e property searches or tracking individually - these sessions have lots of repetitions. Again, this ensures that we are developing the dog & shaping his behaviour in each exercise.
We also do some very light & basic agility work - however one thing we have to be REALLY careful of is the fact that the pups are young, growing dogs. So we avoid any kind of heavy stress on their joints. We're not testing whether the dog can get over something, we're shaping the behaviour around what he does when he jumps over something. It's only about 1ft high, but we're concentrating on making sure the dog acts in the right way.
We're not assessing how hard the dog bites, how long he tracks for or how high he can jump. All we're instilling into the dog is the fact that he learns, knows & masters the correct behaviour in each exercises.
Where are we now
With Sear we've now instilled the exercises & developed his general basic ability.
|No more baby teeth left|
At 5 months old - Sear can pretty much complete most of the exercises stated in the ACPO Licensing Manual. He'll track, locate property, bite, walk to heel etc etc. However, what we now need to do is develop his 'Police Dog' skills.
We move into Phase 2 - and this is where the fun really starts . . . .