In our tricks class at Manukau Dog Training Club, I got a very interesting question from a student.
In the class I had been emphasizing on how to get and keep your dog focused on you. But, the student said “When I read your article, I thought that what you do for the focus might be too much for the dogs”. “Article” means that a piece of paper I give to our students each week, explaining what we have done in the class that week. I thought that she meant that dogs in the class would be too exhausted by playing my focus games to actually practise tricks, which we usually do after the focus games. But, then she added “I understand that the focus is important, but some dogs are always focused on their handlers and keep offering behaviours, such as Border Collies and Malinois.”
Yes, she is right. There are dogs who don’t need to learn to focus on their handlers because they do it naturally. Well, as is the case with any type of training or learning, you may need to teach different dogs different things. Thus, in case of dogs who tend to get hyped up by offering behaviours to engage their handlers, we need to teach them something different. Although it again depends on each dog, things that you could teach those dogs may include: 1) how to calm down and 2) how to wait for the handler’s cue.
Making your dog to do a behaviour that has duration could help him calm down, while your dog needs to be vigilant to prepare for the next cue if you give your dog a cue for a different behaviour each time.
As always, when you train your dog, you need to think about how to help your dog, the dog in front of you.