I spent March 6th-12th 2014 giving a 5-day private obedience seminar in Murrieta, California! I had such a great time there and it gave me an a well-needed break for the Northern Virginia cold that I had grown accustom to! When I left Virginia, it was 17 and when I landed in Southern California, it was 82. Ahhh, what a great transition of weather!
I was called out there to mainly focus on working German Shepherd/Husky Mix, ” Odin.” He was a great dog from the start! Fortunately, he did not have any major behavioral issues! His main issue he had was a fear of noises and fast movement; meaning, if he heard a loud noise or someone moved too quirky, he was gone, and his obedience wasn’t solid, at all.
I always land the day before the training starts in order for me to stabilize from the long flight, airports, rental, drive to the hotel, etc.
All of our days generally start around 9am! I arrived at the location and met with Tom, the owner. Tom was an awesome guy! Former US Marine of 12 years, so we obviously immediately “hit it off,” and had a ton in common! Really great guy!
So, I spent about 2 hours just explaining the whole training system, how the day would go, had I’m practice the techniques we were going to cover (without Odin) and took all of his questions he had lined up.
After this was over, we went out to the park and started working Odin, giving him a solid foundation with the come, sit, and break; meaning, he was trained not to get up from the sit command until released. Since I knew noises and fast movement were Odin’s big issues, I immediately started incorporating noise desensitization into his sit. Once he was solid in the sit, I would move around and bang on things, make noises, drop objects, etc. He fairly quickly worked through his noise issues, this is a prime example of why obedience is an important step when working confidence building with a dog. At my dog training facility in Northern Virginia, I always say, “You cannot fix any issue in a dog that you do not have control over.”
Due to him rapidly catching on and getting over his issue, we moved in to teaching him “place.” Place is a great confidence building drill that really helps a dog stabilize and get over numerous issues (aggression, objects, noises, etc). Odin was mastering the place command on multiple objects within a couple hours! Or as I say, “Like he has been doing it his whole life.”
Once Odin was doing all of the commands reliably and solid, I had Tom take over! Tom did a great job with little correction needed! He was a natural, as well!
The last thing we worked on for day 1 was “down.” Due to us already covering, working on perfecting, and spending hours on come, sit, place, and noises, we didn’t spend too much time on this. I just wanted to teach Odin the concept and foundation of down to give us something to build on at the start of day 2.
So, we ended day 1 with down, it wasn’t perfect or flawless; however, he had the jist of it. Odin, Tom, and I were all pretty tired, we ended our training day at around 5pm.
As always, I arrived at 9am! We did a solid 45 minutes to an hour recap on what Odin had learned the previous day! Come, sit, break, and place! We also recapped on some noise work, Odin did amazingly well! As Tom said, “Seeing him today, you would think he NEVER had an issue with these things, it’s pretty amazing.”
After an hour recap, we went right back into the down command that we had left off on the day prior. Within about 45 minutes, his down was looking pretty solid! He was quick to drop down and had very good stability in the position, as well. Again, we continued to do noises; however, he was pretty much unphased by them. What a great turnaround!
After giving him a break, I started explaining to Tom how the extended down command works. If you aren’t familiar with extended down, it’s essentially, where you see the dogs in our videos “downing” from 100+ yards away, it’s very impressive to watch! Once Tom had the concept down, we started training the dog on it.
Like most dogs, Odin had a bit of trouble initially; however, we were able to work him through it. Generally, when you get a distance away from most dogs and tell them to down, their natural reaction is to “come” instead of down. About 90% of dogs will give you this same issue; therefore, it is something that’s to be expected. You have to fix this one of a few ways, which I explained all of the ways to Tom. Within an hour, we were able to get this corrected and he was downing from 50+ yards away, to Tom’s amazement.
Once again, I had the Tom take over so that way he knew how to do everything correctly. With extended down, there are a good amount of things the OWNER can mess up, so, we generally have to work the owner through it once the dog masters it! 🙂 Some of the things the owner can do is point to the ground and yell down too quickly or excitedly (causing the dog to jump up), have bad timing on the correction and “correct the dog out of doing it correctly,” as I say, and a few other ways! So, we covered all of those things, most of which Tom did once or twice; however, he quickly learned, adapted, and perfected it! By the afternoon, Odin was downing on command from 50-100 yards away pretty much flawlessly!
While giving Odin a break, we decided to start working Tom’s second dog who was a boxer, “Haley.” We started working her on the fundamentals of come, sit, break, and place! This was great for Odin because it was giving him a break, and it was great for Tom because he was getting his 2nd dog trained, as well!
By the afternoon, we started teaching Odin the “touch” command. Touch is generally a very easy command for dogs to learn and master, it’s essentially the same concept as “place;” however, they are inverting themselves on an object and balancing, verse sitting on an object (like place). Generally, by the time they do touch, they already have good/solid confidence from the place command, so it’s generally not an issue at this point. Of course, Odin picked it up very fast and was “touching” about 10 different objects on command within 1.5 hours.
At this point, it was getting close to 5pm and Odin was winding down, he perfect the commands he learned on Day 1 and he learned and pretty much mastered 2 brand new commands on today. We decided to let him call it a day and rest up for day 3.
Again, the day started at 9am! I had Tom spend the first hour or so just recapping everything Odin had learned in the first two days. Odin and Tom both did great with very few “hiccups” along the way. After discussing with Tom, he wanted to start working Odin on heeling. Surprisingly, Tom had done a great job giving Odin a good foundation with the heel command! He was better than probably 75% of the dogs we see on a daily basis at our dog training facility in Northern Virginia; therefore, I already knew that it would not take much to give Odin and Tom the other 25% they were missing.
As always, I spent about 45 minutes explaining to Tom how the heel works, the key elements to perfecting the heel, and the main things that were needed in order to get Odin’s heel flawless.
Within approximately one hour, Odin was off heeling nearly flawless! He was sharp on his turns, dropping into a sit as soon as I stopped walking, and glued to my left leg like I had velcro stuck to him! Tom was naturally impressed with Odin’s “new heeling.” We gave Odin an hour or so break and went and grabbed lunch!
Once we returned from lunch, we kept Odin on break and pulled out Boxer, “Haley.” With her, we did a recap of the come, sit, break, and place! Within a short amount of time, it came right back to her and she was doing it great! So, we decided to start teaching her the “down” command, as well. Once Haley had the foundation of the down command, we switched her back out and got Odin. Again, I was brought out to train and focus on Odin, me training Haley was just and added bonus!
I spent another 25-30 minutes heeling Odin, while I simultaneously was explaining to Tom! I have to explain all of the ways Odin can mess up, and all of the ways he has to fix it, for example: they can pull ahead, fall behind, cut you off in front, cut behind you, pull to the side, stop walking, sniffing the ground, etc, etc . So, these are all things I had to explain so Tom knew exactly what to do in any situation.
After giving Odin another break, I let Tom take the reigns and start working Odin on his off leash heeling. After making some adjustments and corrections on Tom, they were off leash heeling like a team who had been doing it their whole lives. Actually, while filming them off leash heeling, a neighbor a few houses down yelled, “That’s impressive, do you train dogs?!” You will be able to hear this in the before/after video of Odin.
I gave Odin (and Tom) another break for about 30 minutes and during that time I once again explained all of the variables of the heel. Again, heeling is a lot of information, so I am a firm believer it’s impossible to “over explain.”
After this break, I put Tom and Odin back at it again for another 45 minutes! Again, they were a heeling duo! If a passerby watched them, they would probably swear up and down there were a police officer and his K9 partner!
While giving Odin a break, I asked Tom what the next thing he would like Odin to learn, and he mentioned the “through” command. As always, I explained in great detail how the through command works and all of the minor details that go into making it happen. After this, I began working Odin and teaching Tom the foundation of the “through.” After about 45 minutes, Odin had the concept of the “through” command down decent. Again, he was not a master at it, we were still keeping Odin just a short distance in front of me in order to ensure he had the foundation and the ‘route’ down.
At this point, it was almost fast approaching 5pm and as always, Odin, Tom, and I were all pretty wiped out. We all agreed to pick back up on it the next day.
The day started, you guessed it, at 9am! We immediatly pulled Odin out and started working on the through command! Naturally, it took him about 10-15 minutes to get back “into the swing of things” with the through. Through is a more complex command for dogs to learn, that’s why we consider it “advanced obedience.” As I say, it’s a multidimensional command, the dogs have to learn, “go around my right leg, go in between my legs, and sit down directly in between my legs.” So, it’s a little bit more than “sit” or “sit on this object” (place) .
Within an hour, I was able to have Odin about 30-40 feet away and doing a through nearly flawless. Due to the thinking, mental stimulation, and the complexity of the command, I decided to give Odin a break and work Haley.
So, we got Haley back out and did an hour recap on everything with her (come, sit, down, and place). After getting ensuring she was solid in all of these commands, we decided to teach Haley heeling. Again, Haley is a high energy boxer and her heel didn’t have as good of a foundation as Odin’s did; therefore, she took a bit more work! Nothing crazy or unusual, just simple needed more work than Odin. Again, within about an hour she was heeling really well and reliably, too! So, we gave her a break for a bit, and broke for lunch.
After returning from lunch, we pulled Haley back out and I had Tom to work Haley on the heel for about an hour. Due to the fact that Tom had just learned all of the fundamentals with Odin, Haley and Tom quickly were on the same page and were heeling down the street like they’ve done it for years. At this point, Haley was pretty worn out, so we decided to let her be done for the day.
Back to Odin. I did a quick refresh on the “through” command which Odin went right back to doing really well. After about 10 minutes of repetition, it was now time for Tom to take over. Again, I explained to Tom all of the ways Odin (and he) could mess up the through, and then I had Tom start practicing it. Again, it was a very smooth transition from myself and Odin to Tom and Odin.
We finished the day with teaching Odin “sit-in-motion,” which is generally a fairly easy command for most dogs to master. Essentially, this is you calling the dog to “come” and as their coming, you tell them to sit. Although fairly simple to train dogs to do, it’s generally not “as” simple as it sounds. Keep in mind, the dog is coming at a full out sprint, and within ONE command they have to stop on a dime and drop into a sit. After working this for about 45 minutes to an hour, Odin was stopping on a dime for Tom and I.
As always, the whole crew is worn out, and we decided to call it a day.
Last day! We pulled out Odin, did an recap on everything staring with sit-in-motion, followed by through, and then touch, extended down, and place. Essentially, we work backwards, so the last thing they’ve learned we start with first, and the thing they learned first we do last (since that’s what they’ve practiced the most). We did this recap for about an hour.
Then, we started teaching Odin “watch” and “heel command” (sit next to left leg). If a dog knows through, they generally pick up on the heel command very fast, essentially, it’s the same concept. So, within about 30 minutes he was doing heel close-to-perfection!
Next, we taught him the “watch” command, this is a command that very few dogs do, and even fewer do it well. It is literally the dog making direct eye contact with you and not looking away despite people, noises, and cars going around them. We spent about 2 hours on this until he was statue-like!
Finally, we finished with Haley! Doing a quick recap on everything she had learned and then teaching her extended down, which she quickly picked up on. Of course, having Tom do this with her numerous times, as well.
When I do seminars, I tell all owners to write down the key information about each command: how the dog can mess it up, how they correct it properly, what to do if the dog does this, etc. This way, even after I leave, they can correct any and all problems that may arise in the future.
We put the dogs up, went inside, and Tom double-checked his pages of notes with me. He was essentially making sure that was he wrote down for each command matched up with what I told him, just to ensure “he” didn’t translate what I said into something different. He had taken pages upon pages of notes, which I always love to see! I reemphasized some main key points that I really wanted him to highlight and gave a quick recap of each command and main points for that command.
After that, we said our goodbyes and back to Northern Virginia I went! Check out Odin’s video below, so you can see the result of the Dog Training Seminar in California.