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Replace Pretend Obedience Training With Real Obedience Training

Good Afternoon John:

My daughter has two large 18mth old male Labrador Retrievers. Tanya lives on a street with heavy traffic. The boys have been to obedience classes however; these guys have a thing about birds, squirrels, cats and anything else that moves on all fours and are in motion faster than they can be. Skunks have sprayed them both. They both tore free of Tanya’s grasp on the leashes, (nearly breaking her wrist in the bargain}, and were off. Laurel made it to the other side to the skunk while Hardy ran into the side of a car and still continued on blindly.

It is critical for the safety of the dogs, the motorists and the public that we learn how to have complete control over these guys at all times and it needs to happen soon.

Thanks, Joan

Hi Joan,

Probably the first thing Tanya needs to do is to wind her memory back to the point she completed her obedience classes and once she’s there hit the erase button.  Most obedience classes are pretty far removed from real life needs. I mean when was the last time you needed to do a geometric pattern around a pylon?

Very few dog-training classes prepare dogs to walk, stay or come or prepare the owners for the invariable challenges that any dog owner is sure to face once they leave the training arena. Dog trainers are so busy these days shoving treats down dogs’ gullets, filling the air with the sound of clickers all the while whispering calm self-esteem reassurances in their soft velvety ears. That’s not dog training. That’s Oprah.

The first thing you should look at is how things are going in the house. That’s 80% of most dogs’ day and the place with the fewest distractions. Can you get your dog to stay on a mat for every meal, while you put your coat and shoes on? If the doorbell rings and your dog can’t recall before it gets to the door, then control outside is as likely to happen as Tiger Woods’ getting a sponsorship offer from the Family Channel. If a dog can’t be caught, the dog can’t be taught. When a dog knows it’s stronger, it won’t listen any longer.

Try working with a balanced trainer to learn how to lay an indoor foundation, then a backyard foundation, then a front yard foundation then a dog park foundation, then a squirrel habitat foundation and so on and don’t skip ahead. Watch the 2nd front-page video on my site, to see what I’d be recommending to do each and every step. I don’t take a dog on a walk until it knows how to walk. We may simulate them but we don’t do them. You can play in the yard but the actual process of learning to exert self-control will compensate for a missing drag, I mean walk. Also I wait until I have 3 consecutive days of success before I move on to the next level of stimulation.

I think Laurel and Hardy are blowing you off possibly because they don’t respect you. Your balanced trainer is likely going to suggest that they both need to become more worried about consequence from mom then the joy of picking squirrel fur from their teeth. Like any real “mom”, sometimes you need to give the children a tiny little glimpse of Lindsay Lohan on a bad day too.  Maybe just show them a picture. You don’t want them in therapy.

John Wade

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1 thought on “Replace Pretend Obedience Training With Real Obedience Training”

  1. Mrs Snider

    Hi John,

    I just read your article “Driving Miss Maggie is driving me crazy”. I enjoyed the article very much!

    I have adopted a dog from a shelter (I always have her crated when in the car), as I Have over the years. How ever she does have an attention proble which we are working to correct much in the way have described. I am looking forward to reading your follow-up “step-by-step article on how to get a dog to stay for anyone that need to learn how to gradually put the breaks on a dog with a “button”.”

    Thanks for the article!

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