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Transitioning to Do-Land

Posted on 07/18/11 46 Comments

To follow up with some of the comments from my webinar I would like to share this one from Darlene who took a great deal of time to share her perspective. Thanks Darlene I do appreciate you sharing your viewpoint.

Here is what Darlene posted to my “Struggles” webinar. It was so involved I thought I would do a video reply. In addition I knew asking Swagger to stay put for 20 minutes or so while I taped my reply would give me an opportunity to demonstrate how I “re-direct” and “Stop the reinforcement” in my own training for those of you who don’t get a chance to join us in Puppy Peaks.

Here are Darlene’s Comments, I have highlighted the key points she brought up that I will address:

I might like to live in do-land but it takes too long to get there and dogs don’t live long enough. Most of all I don’t want my dogs to get frustrated figuring out what it is I want. I don’t want to get bitten 300 times/day, note she does not mention how many days ignoring the bite it took before the dog lost the behavior. We need to understand how it is that dogs learn!!!!!!!! Does she think puppies would teach their littermates to stop biting by doing nothing? Does she think they learn to not trust or lack the desire to play because the litermate bit back? The hole in her theory is that she thinks it would take 300 corrections a day before the dog changed the behavior. One apropriate corection is all that is needed. The littermate bites back one time hard enough to change that behavior. Not so hard it leaves the other screaming or afraid. This is how dogs learn. Dogs are problem solvers. If you give the dog a problem to solve they will learn twice as fast when they know what does not work. Ignoring a self rewarding behavior (bitting, jumping, chasing the rabbit) will get you no where fast. I love her managing and redirecting soulutions. She can get her dogs to come at home by managing to have a lot of acerage. I want to know how the average person would get a dog to come with a busy road and a rabbit on the other side. The average person does not know how to find and keep the reward the correct solution. The wrong soultion can kill the dog. Granted in agility the wrong solution, breaking the starting line, only loses your entrey fee. But in the dogs world he did get to jump and he thus solved his problem. My dogs love all their jobs. They learn at 7 weeks they do something for me I will do something for them. I call it patient training. They can quickly learn to wait or even move away from the reward to earn the reward. Without corections an 8 week old motivated retriever puppy can learn to stay on a platform while a treat or bumper is thrown. Waiting until released to get the reward. If we are to pass anything around about training dogs lets make it something that can help people train their dogs. Something the dog can understand.

Here is my video reply to some of Darlene’s comments. I didn’t take the time for any fancy editing (I still haven’t packed yet:)) so here you go — semi-rough cut.

Just a reminder for everyone Puppy Peak introductory price ends tonight at midnight. If you haven’t check out the program yet just click this link to see the webinars and register for the program.

Today, as John and I head out to Italy (I am teaching for 5 days and then we will be vacationing — first time in many, many years) I am grateful for the Mary who is moving in to take care of my adult dogs and Andrea who is taking Swagger home with her for two weeks. It is easier leaving home when you know your dogs are all in good hands!





  1. June says:
    Thursday, July 28, 2011 at 7:41am

    Been on a journey with my own three dogs for the last 2 years and am transitioning into what you call do land from dont land.
    What I have learned or observed with fellow dog owners/trainers is that I believe there is only certain people who will embrase this style of training. (I mean no disrespect to people who do not wish to adapt – that is their choice) I have been asked over the last two years HOw do you get your dogs to do that? Who are you training with? My responce to this is usualy me laughing and I say it is
    HP & DC training. HANDLER PATIENCE AND DOG CHOICE. Personally I feel this sums up for me your way of training, I would love to say that I exclusively train this way I dont sometimes I revert but every day and every way I get a little better.
    Enjoy your holiday


  2. Jayne says:
    Tuesday, July 26, 2011 at 2:38pm

    Thank you for another great post!! I am learning so much from your posts as well as Puppypeaks.


  3. Judy says:
    Monday, July 25, 2011 at 7:35pm

    I’ve applied your “ignore that” concept to my shark terrier when giving treats.
    After one week, I was getting licks instead of teeth.
    I’m glad Darlene wrote so we could all benefit from your logic.


  4. Pam says:
    Monday, July 25, 2011 at 8:37am

    I love the picture of Twister and her singleton pup, makes me miss my Reba. I really enjoy seeing pictures of the dogs from the past when I first met Susan. Thanks for your years of knowledge and Happy Birthday chick!!


  5. DSMBC says:
    Sunday, July 24, 2011 at 11:01am

    Thanks Susan. Do land is hard, because it requires us to think, plan, do. That is not always easy, but the results pay off big time. For folks that are new to this type of training, or just new to training all together (like myself), it can seem overwhelming and hard to figure out. It makes a difference to have someone experienced to help guide you through. However, once you get there, boy what a difference!

    I often think folks rebel against this method because it does seem hard at first. maybe because they don’t have anyone to guide them through and they just don’t see how it could work. I am lucky to have a couple of experienced trainers as friends that help me out and taught me the basics of shaping before I signed up for your recallers course. Once folks figure it out, you never want to go back, but you have to get over the first hurdle. thanks for being a great resource!


  6. Viv says:
    Sunday, July 24, 2011 at 7:23am

    Thanks Susan for taking the time to explain things and to respect other people’s points-of-view eventhough you disagree with them.
    It was great fun to see Swagger’s reaction when you said “ouch”.


  7. Kim Collins says:
    Saturday, July 23, 2011 at 9:15pm

    Just want to say that I spent over 10 days with Susan in June and got to see the “real” Swagger:o) And what you see on Susan’s videos is exactly what he is. He is adorable, cheeky, pushy, sweet, attentive, all the things you see in the videos.

    I can say that the “recall” is worked on and reinforced massively for this dog and from what I saw the value of the reward for coming when called transferred to the actual “game” for Swagger. When I was there he would run to me when Susan sent him but he immediately turns and sits on your feet literally seeking Susan out and waiting for her to call him. The game of getting to run to her has as much value as the stewing beef he gets when he arrives!

    We also did recalls with him between me and another person when Susan was out for the day, he transferred the amazing recall to anyone that called him, which to me is life saving, anyone can get that dog to drive in to get a collar grab/a cookie/tug if they needed to in an emergency. However if Susan called at the same time as someone else, I am sure she would win that game:o)

    I didn’t see Swagger get any “corrections” for anything while I was there, as she says he gets “interrupted” and “redirected” when necessary but neither he nor Susan took offense to the situation, it was just a case of “we can’t do that but we CAN do this!” and both of them were happy with the new choice.

    Swagger is a handful for sure but he doesn’t do anything that 99% of all the puppies out there do…what Susan never does is squash the dog’s spirit and inquisitiveness. We want a dog that will try things, they may be right, they may not but the secret is that they are happy to try, never worried about being wrong and their true personality is allowed to show thru.The first thing people notice about Susan’s dogs is that they are real characters…

    So many correction trained dogs have that same look, the look that says I am not allowed to be who I am, I must be who they want me to be. That to me is so sad.



    • Jan V says:
      Sunday, July 24, 2011 at 6:29am

      If this isn’t a powerful endorsement, I don’t know what is. Great testimonial Kim!


  8. E Gay says:
    Friday, July 22, 2011 at 8:56pm

    The video would be so much more impressive if there were no edits. Not that it’s not fine the way it is. I’m just saying, the edits leave room for doubt in the viewer’s mind.

    Just a suggestion for improvement for the next demonstration.


  9. Karen M says:
    Thursday, July 21, 2011 at 5:00am

    Just re-read “Stressing in the Real World” 08/03/10. If ever there was a reason to live in Do-Land, there’s one.


  10. Kirstie Dean says:
    Wednesday, July 20, 2011 at 2:07pm

    Is there any chance you will offer a Do-Land camp at Say Yes? I’m still trying to convert my brain and having a hard time figuring out the Do-Land option for different things in my dog training.


    • Laura says:
      Monday, July 25, 2011 at 7:48am

      The “Advances in Dog Training” course would be a good start for you.


  11. Sofia says:
    Wednesday, July 20, 2011 at 9:15am

    Great video! Great information!


  12. denise crook says:
    Wednesday, July 20, 2011 at 8:37am

    You’re not alone – Check out this interesting review about the science of positive dog training – Why dog trainers will have to change their ways | Science | The Observer


    very interesting review of a book called – In Defence of Dogs by John Bradshaw

    Nice to know that “SHE” is on the RIGHT track!!!!

    looks like the science of positive reinforcement is getting


  13. A&J says:
    Wednesday, July 20, 2011 at 7:31am

    Thanks for taking a good chunk of your evening to reiterate those important points.


  14. Megan says:
    Tuesday, July 19, 2011 at 3:14pm

    Thank you for continuing with Do-Land education. I find the specific examples to be the most educational as the principles of the theory are simple but seeing it in action, in different situations allows much deeper understanding. Seeing is believing. 🙂 I look forward to seeing many situations in which creating joy shapes the behaviour you want through your blog, peoples questions and comments and through puppy peaks. It is also having me save up my pennies to hopefully join recallers 3.0…….:-)


  15. Kathy says:
    Tuesday, July 19, 2011 at 10:41am

    Thanks fo posting the above. I guess I have been to enough of your workshops to understand your training very clearly (it makes perfect sense to me-I understand why it works and I also understand where I fail at the training and have to resort to management)

    But when I train with my training partners, who ask why I do what I do, they always say it takes too long. I look at training my dog as a journey and nothing takes too long for us-some behaviors will have to be reinforced frequently throughout my dog’s life.
    Also, one thing I’ve taken from the workshops is that good trainers work hard and put a lot of effort into getting behaviors. I remember sweating and being out of breath just trying to get my dog to tug with me or engage in a strange place. Through that, I realized why I didn’t have a solid tug or focus in the past-I hadn’t put the effort in. Putting the effort in is much easier for me now and the results come much quicker.


  16. Lora says:
    Tuesday, July 19, 2011 at 8:18am

    Thanks for this extra special video. My lesson learned for the day is don’t skip a day of checking in. You miss some good stuff. Off to play with my dogs (it’s never work – always a reward for both of us). Thanks again. Really good thought-provoking stuff.


  17. Willy says:
    Tuesday, July 19, 2011 at 2:00am

    Very interesting. I find you very persuasive. However, did you not give Swagger a collar correction when stood up? You reached up and touched his collar when he offered a behavior you didn’t want- isn’t that a correction? Sure you didn’t “pop” it, but for a dog that is [potentially] never corrected- the collar grab could be enough. Just trying to understand what you did there… Thanks for this series, I’ve learned a lot through it!


    • Susan says:
      Tuesday, July 19, 2011 at 7:21am

      @Willy, thanks for the question. No Swagger was not given a “correction” all that i did when he stood up was “Stop the Reinforcement” I prevented him from seeking reinforcement somewhere else and then I let go and gave him a choice — do you want to try and seek rewards somewhere else or do you want to do what you were just doing (which lead to rewards from me). Those that are familiar with the Say Yes program will know Swagger has had likely thousands of collar grabs paired with great rewards such as cookies, toys and games so the foundation of me touching his collar is not punitive — something that is very important if down the road you want to reach for it to prevent the dog from seeking his own rewards.


      • Willy says:
        Tuesday, July 19, 2011 at 7:47am

        Thanks for the response Susan- and wow- so quick too! I didn’t realize that you had actually given rewards for touching the collar in the past. I’ve heard you say before (specifically in your Success with One Jump DVD) that you don’t touch the collar without first building massive rewards for it. I didn’t know what you meant by that, but your explanation here helps clarify. Thanks again for taking the time, and safe travels!

  18. Kristie says:
    Monday, July 18, 2011 at 9:39pm

    also, this line is driving me mad and i would just like to add my 2 cents…

    “I want to know how the average person would get a dog to come with a busy road and a rabbit on the other side…”

    my answer: ensure you have trained excellent recall, and TESTED THE VALUE of that recall before you take the poor dog near a busy road off-leash??????

    Sorry i know we are not supposed to judge here, but with comments like that…well, i’m only human!


    • Claire says:
      Monday, July 25, 2011 at 5:04pm

      An average normal person would not/should not let the dog off leash near a busy road in the first place.

      I consider myself a crossover trainer, with many years of traditional training, trying to do my best to live in Do-Land with my 2 year old Aussie ever since I got him.

      I’d say he is 95% positive trained.
      The other 5% is my reacting with old habits when something pops up that I did not plan.

      One thing for sure: I’ll never go back to the old methods !


  19. Kristie says:
    Monday, July 18, 2011 at 9:31pm

    Great response Susan. i think Darlene needs to explore do land a little more before being so quick to judge it. I think what most “pro-punishment” people don’t realise is that by living in do land, there is an amazing relationship between dog and handler that you just cannot achieve when the dog holds some amount of fear/anxiety of when the next correction is coming.

    i can say from experience, the level of trust you can gain living in do land is mindblowing. i have started training “do land” style since the start of the year with my 4yo staffy x kelpie, and i have found we get results much quicker, that are much more reliable.

    while i still don’t understand EVERY aspect of how to live in do land, we are learning together, and it is great fun! I find that by getting my girlie to make the choices, she does occasionally get frustrated, and starts offering other tricks, but still stays super focused and has that desire to get it right, and loves the jackpot when she does figure it out!

    i know that if i had tried these things last year, she would have given up and gone off sniffing. i love when people comment on her focus at obedience class 🙂

    i feel sorry for the dogs i see getting yelled at in training, and cant help but notice how skittery the dog is, and how it flinches when the handler screams “come” for the 15th time….makes me grateful for do land!! these people will never know what it is like to have a dog that fully trusts them!

    Thanks again Susan!


  20. Sharon Normandin says:
    Monday, July 18, 2011 at 8:29pm

    I had the privilege this past weekend of FINALLY hearing Bob Bailey at a seminar; he shared the stage with Parvene Farhoody, who was also mentored by Bob and was also wonderful to hear. One of the comments that Bob made, several times, and which I will add to my collection of Bailey-isms that I’ve learned mostly from you, was “If it’s not working, you’re not doing it right”. Somehow that seemed to be very apropos for many of Darlene’s questions/arguments about the time required and frustrations she feels in getting to “Do Land”. And, if you want to change your dog’s behaviour, you have to change your own ASAP. Love that man! And thank YOU for providing me with a superb education of his training skills.


  21. Kathy Haley says:
    Monday, July 18, 2011 at 5:35pm

    raised my GSD Service Dog in a semi do land with realizing it (new to do land) she trots by my side in the stores and in church. Lays in the corner at the Dentist for an hour, stays in the hospital room when we take someone off life support. Everyone just comments over the incredible connection we have. There are still things to work on which is why we are signed up for puppy peaks and of course there’s always that future SD.


  22. Ali says:
    Monday, July 18, 2011 at 5:28pm

    Very interesting video, good responses to the correction fan. I’m slowly finding a better understanding of Do-land. I like the “Redirect, Manage, Fix” layout but can’t always think of how to apply it to a situation. So I have a couple questions:
    1. Can you explain what you were doing when Swagger got up? It looked to me like you were stopping the reinforcement of him going to see something by holding his collar, letting him decide the proper action and rewarding it. Is that close or is there more to the collar grab than that?
    2. You keep bringing up the dog barking at ringside issue and haven’t presented a solution. Here’s what I would do, though I’m not sure if it completely fits in with Do-land. I would put the dog in her crate (which has TONS of previous reinforcement obviously) and possibly cover it up if she can still see what she was barking at. I’d consider this more of a consequence than a correction, certainly no anger here. This also seems like it would be a way to take away reinforcement. Then when the dog was quiet again, I’d let her out and give lots of rewards for quietly sitting or paying attention to me. Is that a Do-land tactic? If not what would be? Thanks! Can’t wait to read/watch more from you!


    • Penny says:
      Monday, July 18, 2011 at 9:59pm

      Hi Ali

      I will answer for you, Susan is traveling, Susan is using the collar grab, to redirect Swaggers focus, he has had massive rewards for the collar grab, and Susan can now use that to redirect his focus.

      You can use your crate for barking at ring side, or if your pup is on a gentle leader you can redirect their attention and reward when they are quiet, just like Susan uses on Buzzy in Shaping Success, she explains in great detail how she was able to get Buz to ring side.

      Hope this helps


      • Susan says:
        Tuesday, July 19, 2011 at 7:23am

        @Penny, thanks for chiming in! John and I are stuck at Frankfurt airport for several hours as we missed our connection — so thought I would check out the blog. Great answer Pen — in addition just to let people know by holding Swagger’s collar I am “Stopping the reinforcement” which he may be getting wandering off somewhere else. And as Penny points out I choose the “re-direct” method of dealing with this struggle –as outlined on my “Struggles” webinar series.

  23. Naomi says:
    Monday, July 18, 2011 at 5:26pm

    I also have an older dog, 4 yrs, who simply stops play when the younger one, now 1 1/2, bites. Its really cool to see that working between them. When she bites too hard he just gives her the cold shoulder, and she stands there with the toy hanging out of her mouth…… then a few seconds later tries again, and hes willing to give it a go. Shes a real slow learner – it still happens occasionally even now. (But a lot less than when she was a pup.)


  24. Shelley says:
    Monday, July 18, 2011 at 4:27pm

    Living in ”Do Land” is alot easier with the inner circle gang!!! lol

    Great job Swagger man!


  25. Jodi says:
    Monday, July 18, 2011 at 4:19pm

    I consider myself an average person who trained my young BC so immersed in “Do-Land” that his name is “2Do”. He is just 3 and for quite some time now he has been at my side when asked, off leash in a great big city with massive distractions such as dogs, cats, squirrels, bikes, skateboards to name a few. He has never encountered a correction from me and never will and I am pround of our profound love for eachother because of it. Thanks Do-land.


  26. Pat Kalbaugh says:
    Monday, July 18, 2011 at 4:17pm

    I think living completely in do-land is hard for us at first. It’s hard to give up old habits. Although I consider myself a positive trainer, I still find myself reaching for “correction” when my dogs do something I don’t like, such as barking or biting. What I’m finding is that punishment does not change their behavior permanently….sometimes it doesn’t even change it for one minute!

    At first living in “do-land” can be frustrating, time consuming and somewhat mentally exhausting but as I start to understand more and mature into a (hopefully) completely positive approach, I hope my frustration extinguishes and that do-land training becomes second nature to me. Dealing with behavior issues as they come up rather than waiting till they worsen seems to be the key.

    As Bob Bailey says, “training is simple but not easy.”…So true.


  27. Lisa says:
    Monday, July 18, 2011 at 3:31pm

    I really love what you say and write about Do-land Susan. I am trying to live in Do-land with my dogs, not so easy when coming to verbal corrections like not saying “noooo” when the puppy runs away with one of my books or the older dog is stealing food 😀 I think that is because we are so used to it, but I am working on it 😉 I never ever punish them though and the “noooo” is actually not said with an angry voice, so they actually don’t care about it.

    I totally agree with you when saying you don’t have to punish the dog for biting.
    When I got my puppy, which is 6 months of age now, she was a monster and really drove me crazy. She was biting all the time and that hurt pretty much. I never punished her for it, just did as you told about in the video and played a lot of tug and drop with her. When she was like crazy she could get a time out, but normally I just freezed and waited her to stop. I also found out that most of the times she was biting me she actually was very tired and stressed and struggled calming down. I figured out how to calm her down by giving her a chewing bone or a massage BEFORE she got too tired,and got rid of the problem pretty fast. So, yes, it is absolutely possible to solve this problem without punishment!

    Same thing with handling. She already has a pretty long coat and it will get longer as she gets older, so we have trained on being groomed and staying on the blanket. She enjoys it and you see on her face that, ever time she has her head up in order to look at me, she suddenly throws it down on the blanket and looks at me like: “where’s my cookie!?!” She has never been forced to lie down and stay down, just rewarded and reinforced to lie there and let me groom her. I see a big difference between her and my older dog, only 2 years old, that unfortunately was forced down before. My older dog hated it and it took quiet a while until she thought it was OK to be groomed after rewarding and reinforcing many many times. Same thing with giving them a bath. The pup is just standing there waiting for the sausage to come into her mouth, while the older dog just tries to get out of there.

    My older dog hasn’t been punished by hitting or smacking and so on, but forcing her into something had a big impact on her and our relationship. It takes time to repair that “damage” again and it is totally not worth it.

    After making that experience I REALLY REALLY regret that I did it the way I did with her and am SO SURE that I will never ever go back to that again. The good thing is that those two are my first own dogs and there are more to come and they will have a great life and big efforts of what I have learned over the last 1,5 years and what I am learning today 😉


  28. School for dog trainers says:
    Monday, July 18, 2011 at 3:04pm

    Great video… dog training really is so important… the sooner it gets done the better. Thanks for sharing!


  29. Lisa says:
    Monday, July 18, 2011 at 2:59pm

    Susan, one thing I think people should know is how you worked Swagger at the ckc fundraiser, calling him off Adrian ( who was winding Swag up) you were cool and calm about it, took it for what it was and knew it wasn’t iceburg challenge, and made me realize how at peace I am because my dog and I are loving living in DO-LAND,,,,,,,
    thanks from both of us….


  30. chloe De Segonzac says:
    Monday, July 18, 2011 at 1:59pm

    It’s like anything, takes a while to learn how do things differently.

    I’ve been a pro gardener for 20 years and caring for a garden is second hand for me–very little thought–it is automatic. I am having a hard time doing the ‘do’ training with my BC, but I know it will get easy. Yes if you whack a dog it will stop the behavior but???? I want trust.

    …Ummm, it takes a lot more than one nip to get a puppy to stop biting dog mom!!!! Some pups are very persistent!


  31. Diane says:
    Monday, July 18, 2011 at 1:58pm

    great information, thanks, enjoy your vacation.


  32. Christine says:
    Monday, July 18, 2011 at 1:51pm

    I have to say I just loved watching Swagger make good decision after good decision behind you while you spoke. That is amazing impulse control, and you can really see him thinking throughout the whole video.


  33. Sue says:
    Monday, July 18, 2011 at 1:28pm

    “Two speeding tickets” is SUCH a great analogy! Thank you for that.

    My oldest dog has helped raise several puppies and he would totally withdraw from play if the puppy was too rough. And all these puppies have great bite inhibition. He does too, which we taught by just ignore him or stopping play if he mouthed us. It really does work!


  34. Nicole says:
    Monday, July 18, 2011 at 1:08pm

    Hi Susan,

    I took a Child Psycology Development course a few years and the one theory that has stuck with me is what my Professor called the Potatoe Chip Theory. I think this applies well with dogs and well with your theories in training.

    A chip = positive reinforcement and a soggy chip = negative reinforcement and when given the choice to have a soggy potatoe chip or no potatoe chip I think dogs would prefer to have the soggy one.

    This helps me to remember to build the reinforcement for all the behaviors I want.


    • Lisa says:
      Tuesday, July 19, 2011 at 2:00pm

      Along the same lines there was a Radio psychologist saying my husband and I adapted to dog training a number of years ago “Dogs would rather be rewarded than punished, but punished than ignored”.

      Just wanted to mention after signing up and following through on the Recallers course, I am able to perform many behaviors with my current JRT off leash than I was able to do with my 1st JRT on leash. I have done exercises with him I only could have dreamed of and that was accomplished by 5 minutes of training games a day. Every day gets me closer to being his ultimate “cookie” and I am having great fun and joy in doing so.


  35. Gabi says:
    Monday, July 18, 2011 at 12:56pm

    where in italy are you going to teach? i would love to come and meet you!? watching you teach so close is an opportunity i can’t miss so pleeeaaaase 🙂 i desperately need to see how it works in do-land for my little boy!


  36. Andrea says:
    Monday, July 18, 2011 at 12:24pm

    I particularly like your comments about acreage … I won’t punish you for having a lovely place I promise …
    I call our 107 acres the world’s best private dog park and totally agree that when I get into the city after a long sojurn of peace the dogs act a bit like they’ve never seen all the stimulation before …

    enjoy Italy, John and a well deserved holiday!


  37. Debra says:
    Monday, July 18, 2011 at 12:21pm

    What a great video, Susan! Having Swagger there to show just what this program is all about, was awesome! I believe what is sooo hard for us to want to change… is ourselves. That’s what it takes, changing our way of thinking and realizing there is a better way, but it takes some doing on our part, not the dogs. Sometimes we don’t think we can, but most of the time, we just don’t want to because it takes some action and persistence on our part. I’m just so happy I did. My dog loves being with me and it can’t get any better than that!!


  38. Laura says:
    Monday, July 18, 2011 at 12:17pm

    Just curious if you’ve ever read Murray Sidman’s “Coercion and Its Fallout”?


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