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Effective Triggers and the Transfer of Value

Posted on 03/13/12 70 Comments
Encore with a highly valued toy.

If you have been reading my blog long, you are aware of my constant emphasis on relationship building and a solid foundation before you work on the “sexy” stuff in dog training. Although I am thrilled when I see people working at transferring the value of their dog’s rewards into things like a seesaw, contacts or weaves poles, for me there is often a critical step  being left out.

Earlier today I sent out a newsletter that lead up to today’s blog where I am stressing the transfer of value for YOU! If a high-drive dog has loads of value for equipment but much less value for you imagine how difficult handling your dog would be as he paid little attention to you while he darted from obstacle to obstacle! And what would happen if there wasn’t any obstacles around?  Your dog would then seek out reinforcement from distractions in his environment.

Building value for you is critically important for dogs at either end of the “drive” spectrum. If your dog is at the lower end of the arousal curve with little value for you when you do not have his treats, he may; slow down, leave you, start sniffing or even just shut down and stop working entirely once the primary “value” is not evident. Having a better transfer of the value for you means you become more important to your dog and he will pay better attention even during times when you are not carrying food or toys.

For those of you with the over-the-top-with-drive dogs; learning the fundamentals of this transfer of value will help you to see how you may be contributing to triggering your dog’s over aroused state exactly at the moments you want him to be calm and focused.

If you are currently struggling with your dog training in some way, chances are the value of your rewards are still tied up in the “goodies” or “tugging” or “chance to chase” and there is nothing connecting you to those rewards. It is true, a person can never be more exciting to a field dog than a bird, or more important to a sheep dog than his sheep but you can build in triggers that ties the value of those things back through you which gives you amazing value to the dog!

See Your Dog as Sherlock Holmes

Dogs are brilliant detectives! One of many great assets dogs have is their ability to figure out patterns of reinforcement. That is why your dog can differentiate between the shoes you wear when you are preparing to take him for a walk and the shoes that mean “you aren’t coming this time.”. I bet your dog knows and responds to the last thing that  occurs before you push yourself away from the computer or when you pick up their leash or your car keys. The dog responds because those actions are triggering something very special. In effect your shoes, keys, computer shutting down all become positive triggers for the dog.

Competition = Sucks to Be The Dog!

Our dogs are equally clever at picking up triggers that signal no reinforcement will available at this time! There are dogs out there that are entering competitions without an adequate transfer of value for their owner, their work or the equipment. When these dogs perform at home or in training they are brilliant because you have their favourite cookie or tennis ball in your pocket and the dog knows it!  These dogs are not working with you because they love to run and jump or chase you as much as they are doing it for what they can get from you at during the process! During the other times when you are not “packing the goods” (for example when you enter a competition) you get a different performance from the dog.

You can maybe fool some dogs for a short period of time, but eventually they all will figure it out. If you haven’t be able to effectively transfer value to running with you and to playing the game, why would the dog want to go into the ring? This is when people will suggest to you that you try to fool the dog into thinking that you actually DO have his rewards on you (because clearly the game or you are not reinforcing enough to keep the dog’s attention away from other distractions that will present themselves at trials). You become one of those people that try to strategically hide cheese sticks around the outside of the ring or pass off a tennis ball behind your back to your friend just before stepping into the ring, hoping you can trick your dog.

I have, what may be some very upsetting news for you.

Eventually the ring gates, the judge, the gate steward, the way you breathe or walk on competition day or all of the above, will become a trigger to your dog that no reinforcement will be available for the next 30-60 seconds while you are in that ring. The more technical the elements of what you are asking the dog to do, the more likely it is that you are going to lose your dog.

Maybe the dog hasn’t figured it out yet, but the day will be coming and when he realizes there is NO VALUE for him inside the ring. When that happens whatever focus or drive for work you have right now will start to dwindle.

How will you know? It will start with the dog that walks or trots the course between obstacles 1-16 but runs like he has a rocket launcher up his butt from obstacles 16 through to 20 in order to EXIT the ring to get what he REALLY wants. The almighty cookie or tennis ball. Why? Because there was never any transfer of value in your training. Your dog will start to notice distractions that other competition dogs with a good transfer of value don’t seem to care about. Your dog is recognizing triggers that are bringing him stress, anxiety and a lack of what he really wants (his food or toys).

In today’s earlier newsletter I  wrote about transferring the value of your dog’s reward into positive triggers that can cue anything from focus, to drive to relaxation. These triggers (just like the ring situation) will prompt whatever emotional state you build into them. Below is a clip of my dogs with a few of the many triggers I routinely use while training and living with my dogs.

Building positive triggers into your dog training is the first step in creating more value for you.  Remember though, it is alway a balancing act, too much value for you makes it difficult to focus your agility dog towards obstacles, or your the obedience dog towards work scent articles at a distance or your search and rescue dog to confidently work regardless if he can see you or not.

Today’s newsletter represents a huge module of work which, if it had been in an on line course would have been rolled out over a week of time. Please take your time to digest all that I wrote. Once you have worked through the assignment report back here to this blog to let me know what discoveries you have made and what new triggers you are building.  If you are not yet a newsletter subscriber, you can sign up on the top right hand side of this blog post, I will re-send the newsletter tomorrow at this time to any new subscribers who missed it the first time around .

Today I am grateful for the gorgeous “winter” weather we are experiencing here today. High of 16 means outside jump grids for the dogs!


  1. Hedwig says:
    Friday, November 20, 2015 at 11:55am

    Yes,please, I would also like to have a copy of the “transfer of value” newsletter.
    Thanks, Hedwig


  2. Julie McDowell says:
    Monday, October 26, 2015 at 1:02pm

    I’d like a copy of the “transfer of value” newsletter, please. I have signed up for the Newsletter.


  3. Aline Morris says:
    Thursday, December 5, 2013 at 9:46pm

    I’d like a copy of the “transfer of value” newsletter, please.


    • Susan says:
      Saturday, December 7, 2013 at 11:30pm

      We are constantly sending out new and exciting information in our newsletter as well as re-capping previous information in a fresh new way. Be sure to become a member by signing up on the panel to the right.


      • Kate says:
        Friday, January 22, 2016 at 7:50pm

        I just signed up!! Any chance of having the transfer of value newsletter emailed out or is there a different way to access it?

  4. Tamandra says:
    Friday, May 17, 2013 at 4:18am

    I just subscribed recently. Is there some way I can get this particular newsletter? It’s a really relevant topic for me right now with my 6 month old GSD puppy. My first high drive dog, after 12 years with one for whom each other was the moon, stars and universe. I didn’t work hard to get that, but this time around, I have a pup aroused by the environment, and hyperfocused on that rather than me. I’m sure he will whip me into a better trainer! And my pup is a Service dog in training too.


  5. Erin says:
    Friday, February 22, 2013 at 10:44pm

    I just signed up for the newsletter and found this post, this would be great for my guide dog puppy in training who is very high drive. Is it still possible to get, is there an archieve, or am I way too insanely late in coming to the party?


  6. Megan says:
    Friday, April 20, 2012 at 1:45pm

    Just stumbled across your post here and I signed up for your newsletter…. I’m curious if there is a way to get back issues of the newsletter? I’d really like to read the newsletter you referenced in this blog post, I think it would be incredibly helpful for me and my dog Roxy in our agility training and even in everyday basics!


  7. Terry says:
    Monday, March 19, 2012 at 8:19pm

    Slightly off topic, but your blogs have me rereading Ruff Love. Is there anything (since it has been years since it was published)you would change? Thanks!


  8. Ronna says:
    Monday, March 19, 2012 at 8:10pm

    I have to chuckle at one of my dogs’ self-taught triggers…when I am on the computer, and sign off, it says ‘good bye’. That is the dogs clue to jump up nad start barking; MOMMY is now available to play!!! So I have to turn the sound off…I am well trained, right?? ;-D


  9. jackie d says:
    Friday, March 16, 2012 at 6:16am

    I confess I’m a bit confused by all this. I only just signed up to the Newsletter in time for Focus 2 and am wondering if there is an archive or something I can access with Focus 1 on, in the hopes it might help!

    My confusion is that if (say) I do a little dance before throwing my dog’s ball, but then after a while I stop throwing the ball, won’t I just poison the value of the little dance because it no longer predicts the reward? A bit like using the clicker but not giving a treat?


    • Susan says:
      Friday, March 16, 2012 at 8:00am

      Hi Jackie, if you contact Lynda @clickerdogs .com (all one) she will send you the first newsletter. And yes, if you were to never throw the ball after your little dance it would lose value. You build triggers by reducing the number of times you add the reinforcement (variable schedule of reinforcement) and add other activities — like agility in between. This way the agility will start to have the value of the little dance and ball. Great question btw!


      • Leslie says:
        Friday, March 16, 2012 at 1:20pm

        At what point should agility be brought into the picture? My dog is barrelling toward me now when I suck in my breath and he seems VERY excited by it. Should I put my PB kongs in a few places on the AG field now and do one jump then reward, or just do the trigger a few times first then introduce a jump?

  10. Phil says:
    Thursday, March 15, 2012 at 10:26pm

    Susan, I am a customer of Puppy Peaks, Recaller 3, and your blog/newsletters… coming across an old friend tonight I would hope might strike a chord to some of your recent reinforcement posts… If you see this post, enjoy. http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=P2BfzUIBy9A#!


    • Phil says:
      Thursday, March 15, 2012 at 11:02pm

      and this update is a recent post to the skidboot relationship. I have changed focus from Agility competitiveness to relationship… http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lTz2O9YRnj0

      maybe we will meet someday…


    • Susan says:
      Thursday, March 15, 2012 at 11:39pm

      @Phil, and I am a fan of Skidboot, so I will endorse your worthwhile project:).


  11. Lois says:
    Thursday, March 15, 2012 at 3:18pm

    I am a 62 year old beginning agility competitor, have entered in 4 trials with my 4 yr old All American and 1 trial with my 2 yr old Bichon rescue (who is very high drive and both food and toy motivated). The purpose of my comment today is to give you a “before” of my Bichon (Melody a.k.a. “Lily”) and hopefully be able to send you an “after” with the help of your focus training.

    Our first 2 runs at a NADAC trial in January were a disaster as once we were in the ring and I removed her leash, she would not take her nose off the ground. I could not even get her to cross the starting line. It is painful to recall the vision of it. You clearly wrote this blog about me as for our next run (hoopers) I tried to fool her by playing with her and a ball outside the ring and then slipped the ball to a friend before we entered, set a goal of simply getting Lily thru 3 hoops going out and 3 coming back. I had Lily’s devoted attention as she thought her ball was in my right hand and I thought it was a successful 6 hoop run! Here is a link to our “show”: http://youtu.be/W2Jcdn5OVhQ

    I realize now it was not a success and how hard I must now work at truly transferring value to me.


  12. Stacy says:
    Thursday, March 15, 2012 at 1:51pm

    Discovered two powerful triggers from my dogs on our walk today. We live in a rural area with many small acreages and walk off leash so must have focus from high distractions of moving cars, barking free roam dogs and other people. My dogs demonstrated their triggers as when they heard a car in the distance / dogs ran towards us while barking, my dogs raced in to me (huge reinforcement for this life saving behavior). Excited to explore this concept of using triggers more effectively in my training.


  13. Kim says:
    Thursday, March 15, 2012 at 12:32pm

    I think I’ve found an iceberg. When I lead out for a chase game and get down into “game on” position my dog always seems to look away and start scanning the environment. When I stand back up straight she looks back at me. I don’t release her until I can get her to look at me briefly while in “game on” position, but the problem persists. When I do release I get fast chasing and good tugging when she gets to me, so it appears she has value for the game. I haven’t played any “look at me” games because I wanted her to have good focus for obstacles in agility. Perhaps we are out of balance away from handler focus? I would think the game itself would produce the handler focus. Any thoughts or suggestions would be appreciated.

    On the positive side, I did the quick intake of breath while sitting at my computer yesterday and she flew off the couch and came running to me.


  14. Veronica says:
    Thursday, March 15, 2012 at 7:27am

    Fabulous! What a project this has started.
    Thankyou for the alerting me to all the other things that are triggers.
    I now can identify and sort them from neg to pos reactions ( now that I am consciously aware of all these other triggers).Just amazing how all this translates and effects reinforcement for my dogs and that aids transfering the value.
    Now hopefully I can use this classical conditioning and turn it into ” operative conditioning”…I think.
    ie. Still working on the mechanics here.
    I now hope to increase my dogs confidence and attitude for work.


  15. Marco says:
    Thursday, March 15, 2012 at 7:15am

    I really enjoyed reading the newsletter. Although I know all that stuff I forget a bit about it most of the time. This will help me to be more aware of the triggers that are around, to counter-condition the bad ones and build a few more for drive. This is sooo much fun for my dog and I.


  16. Kooldog says:
    Wednesday, March 14, 2012 at 9:39pm

    Great tips! It’s been very challenging for me to train my dog. I think I have found a great site to get myself educated…and try new things. Thanks!


  17. Vin says:
    Wednesday, March 14, 2012 at 7:35pm

    Should say “print” off not post off.
    Strewth…reminder, check spelling.


  18. Vin says:
    Wednesday, March 14, 2012 at 7:24pm

    I’m so enjoying these posts.

    OK to post off and take to aglity class? I’ve already emailed your blog link, to memebers but as we know people don’t always do as suggested.

    My dogs have always “lived” inside the house with us. Going back 30 years ago, when I had my first dog, I was frowned upon for having my dogs inside, teaching them not to jump on the couch, to get out the way when I was the in kitchen, so many others had their dogs in kennels, I had the naughty dogs! naughty in everyone elses eyes not mine! I used to say, “but they teach us so much ourselves, about what we are going to do, they know it before we do”. I would also reward the best, it got them thinking, how do I get that reward. I also punished them too, I’m not professing to be perfect.

    Currently I’ve done the diary and am pretty much happy with a lot of the triggers.

    However I’ve been stumped for a while thou, prolly a couple of months actually. We have a spa and my young dog will be lying by the door leading out to the spa before – I’ve been toilet, got the towel, changed clothes, so he has worked out a trigger that I haven’t! He gets huge reinforcement from spa, lots of steam, noise, water…..and yes, I use it as a training opportunity with IYC, – if you sit while I splash you with water, then yes you can chase it when released, and quite simply if I don’t wanna play, you can stay inside….
    I’m wondering if he can understand spelling??

    Debbie M


  19. Leslie says:
    Wednesday, March 14, 2012 at 4:12pm

    Started trigger training last night. Put a small amount of PB in 3 kongs and hid them in 3 different spots, then took Pixel over to the first one. I crouched down and sucked in my breath and then quickly grabbed the kong for him to lick. He looked at me like I was crazy, but after the 3rd one he was pretty excited! I’m SO looking forward to putting the fun back in our training, he is such a lovely, soft boy…


  20. Heidi & Poppie says:
    Wednesday, March 14, 2012 at 2:43pm

    In some ways I am jealous of my partner – as Poppie loves Daniel – she does cartwheels every time he returns home. He has no rules, anything goes.. though I do try to manage their fun – to make sure nothng is detrimental to what we do. However one thing is clear Daniels triggers get a much more energised response from Pops then my own. Pops is always more controlled with me, compared even greeting me she sits and wags her tail, then a hug sometimes. Daniel gets rammed into and jumped into. Before I have sadly found it annoying, sometimes worse even jealous. I used to be that carefree – and even though I sound like I have joy – I’m continously monitoring for that foot out of place.. etc etc and trying to keepo myself in check..

    SO it was great to read your recent blogs – I read tehm with a smile.

    So now I’m after the balance – I’m going to try to copy some of Daniels games and intwine them with something relating to recall..

    Infact I never really thought about it – but actually here I can use this to my advantage – I can incorporate me into Daniels games… I wonder if I can get some of Daniels value tranferred to me… now that would be sneeky hey 😉

    More cogs are turning!!!!


    • Heidi & Poppie says:
      Wednesday, March 14, 2012 at 2:46pm

      Daniel is my partner by the way 🙂


    • Teresa K says:
      Wednesday, March 14, 2012 at 8:45pm

      I am in much the same situation; my husband is the fun guy, never enforces much discipline, except the bare minimum I insist on. I love your sneaky plan of stealing some of the guys’ glory for ourselves and putting it to good use! I plan to keep a close eye on how my husband does his fun little things with our pack of 5 and then stealing whatever I can use for my own devices. Thanks for the brilliant idea 🙂


    • Sharon says:
      Thursday, March 15, 2012 at 10:32am

      It sounds like many of us are having the same realization. Our husbands are much more fun because there are not expectations other than fast and furious play!! I too watched this 2 days ago and am forming an evil plan to become more like my husband but with some rules snuck in. It worked really well yesterday. Will keep working on the many triggers and see what we get. Yahoo!


  21. Lee Shelton says:
    Wednesday, March 14, 2012 at 2:13pm

    Man! LOVE this! Yes, we get in the ring and it’s time to work, which is all good for me but may not be transferred to my pup. That is, sometimes he’s up for it, and other times he’s just not ready or whatever, and my going about like usual (all business) doesn’t work. Where’s the value? Too worried about remembering the course, now why isn’t revved up? did I miss “go”? Forgot the FUN! Becoming the cookie doesn’t just mean being the value, but being the FUN. As you’ve pointed out to us many times, I worry too much about “doing it right” and don’t focus on the fun for its own sake. Thank you again, Susan! Love seeing the older pups too!


  22. Debra Jones says:
    Wednesday, March 14, 2012 at 1:47pm

    Sorry “Susan…I posted twice thinking it didn’t take…what a goof ball I am..must have ‘triggered’ myself!


  23. Nancy says:
    Wednesday, March 14, 2012 at 1:37pm

    Susan, this is fantastic! I love the video so we can “see” this piece of the puzzle. I know it is so basic, but it is the FOUNDATION.

    I would also love to see video examples moving from the trigger transitioning to engaging your dog with things they find rewarding.

    The beaudtiful “dance” between you and your dogs. Keeping them engaged even with distractions all around. Oh how I want to learn this! Thank you so very much for sharing with all of us!!!!


  24. Debra Jones says:
    Wednesday, March 14, 2012 at 1:08pm

    This my third attempt to post; don’t know why it hasn’t taken! Okay…I was thinking of some of the triggers I’ve shaped Snap without realizing! Lots good (I think..) some not great…
    Here are just a few:

    Mom (me) turns over in bed in AM = “I’m gonna wake mom up, maybe she will get up!
    Mom gets up = “Ohh, getting my bone, mom’s gonna do our ritual of holding me and talking to me!”
    Mom gets brush = “Yeahh! We’re gonna go to park, or walk, or play…”
    Mom cuts up dried meat = “Ohhhh, it’s game time!”
    Mom makes “Ready” sound = “I lick my lips! The Dog Puzzles are coming!”
    Mom makes “R E A D Y…S T E A D Y!” sound = “Ohhh she’s grabbing my collar and I’m gonna “Get the toy or treat!”
    Mom holds her arms up and makes Peace Signs = “I really done well and we’re gonna tug with the frisbee!
    Mom looks me in the eyes and says “Look at You!” = “I’m the best ever” I look in her eyes and wag my tail off”!
    Mom makes a low owey sound = “I must see whats wrong with mom!”
    Mom says “Are You OK?” = mom wants to rub her hands over my body cause I might have hurt myself”.
    Mom does the dancing jingle and “whoops it up” = “I’m bad, I’m bad, I’m so bad I’m good!”
    Mom sits on the floor = “Give her every shape I can remember!”
    Dave gets done eating = “A treat is coming my way!”
    Dave calls my name = “It’s time for a body message!”
    Mom shakes her head from side to side = “That’s not what she wants, must figure it out”

    I need to write all these “triggers” down and many more that I just do as a habit! Some I need to change..didn’t realize how I’ve shaped her; she is soo intuned to me!

    Thank you for this assignment, Susan! Wht an eye opener!!


  25. Laura W. says:
    Wednesday, March 14, 2012 at 1:03pm

    I’ve been working for a while on incorporating triggers into my training that help bring my dog into a higher state of arousal without the use of tug. The problem I run into is that because all of these triggers were taught using food or a toy, it’s still this food or toy that she’s working for. And I wonder how long it will take her before she realizes that when she sees/hears these triggers in a ring situation, that once again, competition=sucks to be the dog. I’m coming to the conclusion that the best triggers are the ones that predict a fun activity with the owner that doesn’t involve food or toys. Or am I missing something? (yes, that is highly likely!!!)


  26. Alaska says:
    Wednesday, March 14, 2012 at 12:38pm

    I put a new calming trigger into our routine this morning: quiet humming.

    My dogs get a short spurt of vigorous ball play in the morning before I leave for work. When we finish, they are all supposed to sit, and then receive a bone or kong to keep them busy after I leave.

    But it seems to take forever for everyone to sit, despite the promise of bone or kong that awaits. I always found this puzzling, but the newsletter made me realize that perhaps they needed some help going from the aroused state (ball play) to calm (sitting). Experimented with using my voice as a calming trigger, and a low hum seemed to do the trick. Butts hit the ground much quicker than before. Sweet.

    So that’s the first part of my homework done 🙂


  27. Lynn Zagarella says:
    Wednesday, March 14, 2012 at 12:26pm

    Susan GREAT newsletter today that really has me thinking about *inadvertent* triggers as well as the ones I want to keep and reinforce. Thank you so much! You are the best training inspiration and your writings are a wonderful trigger for Moi 🙂


  28. Debra Jones & Snap says:
    Wednesday, March 14, 2012 at 12:18pm

    Oh my goodness, now that I’m thinking about it…tons of triggers I’ve not even realized or just became a habit…
    Getting Dog brush = “oh, mom’s taking me to the park, or walk, or some games!”
    Cutting up dried meat = “We’re gonna play games or learn something!”
    “Ready” = “Ohhhh goody, the Dog Puzzles coming” Snap licks her lips when I say “ready”
    “Ready..Steady!” = I get to chase or get something!
    Mom raises arms and makes the Peace signs = “I did awesome and we’re gonna have a tug!”
    “Look at you!” = Mom’s looking in my eyes and praising me! I look at her eyes and wag my tail off!
    Mom turns over in bed = I’m gonna wake her up..maybe she will get up…
    Mom dances around and makes “whooy” sounds = I did the best ever!
    Mom sits on the floor = I’m gonna give her every shape I can think of!
    Mom gets the Snap Bag = FRISBEE TIME!
    Dave gets done eating = It’s treat time!

    Thank you so much, Susan. I need to write these and tons more down. There are quite a few I need to change; didn’t realize what I was doing as a habit!


  29. frances says:
    Wednesday, March 14, 2012 at 12:08pm

    Thank you for the great post! I will start today. This is going to be fun1


  30. Sharon says:
    Wednesday, March 14, 2012 at 10:58am

    Thanks Susan, as always, so much to think about and so much to do. Better get at it.


  31. John says:
    Wednesday, March 14, 2012 at 10:22am

    More good stuff, Thank You. I was thinking that touching the crate door would be a trigger for the dog to sit. Then I thought maybe that would be a cue. Is their a difference between a trigger and a cue. Or maybe, who cares as long as it works?


    • Susan says:
      Wednesday, March 14, 2012 at 11:45am

      Yes John a trigger and cue both start out as meaningless stimuli that are giving meaning through Classical Conditioning.


      • Clyde says:
        Thursday, March 15, 2012 at 2:54pm

        When you give a “cue”, the dog generally has to respond with a motor pattern. Is this also true with a “trigger”? Does the dog have to do something after you give the trigger?

  32. Kelly says:
    Wednesday, March 14, 2012 at 8:43am

    AH HA, Thank you once again susan for the light bulb. Yes we have triggers but never carried them over to trialing. The rocket up the butt made me laugh out loud because I have been struggling to match my hadling to a dog I have to drag the first half of the course to only change into a speed demon for the last half lol In desperation, I realize now I used a trigger but I stole it from the squirells…I wanted squirell speed from the start so I started winding him up right before entering the ring using our ‘go hunt the squirells’ release sounds (sounds like I’m calling a cat) It worked, but your right for how long? Thanks also for the visual, it helps SO much. Off to work on building our own triggers 🙂


    • Leslie says:
      Wednesday, March 14, 2012 at 4:04pm

      Kelly, you just gave me an idea about the squirrels as a trigger for my dog(where’s the squirrely, where’s the squirrely…) thank you!


  33. Isabel says:
    Wednesday, March 14, 2012 at 8:39am

    Since working on Recallers, I have been building value for me. I realize that I have not built value for the obstacles themselves. I guess that I have to figure out how to build value for each obstacle. I am not sure how to do that.


  34. Tina says:
    Wednesday, March 14, 2012 at 7:41am

    I had to share this training story from yesterday. I’ve been working on getting tug anywhere anytime and yesterday being a beautiful day with kids and four wheelers about was perfect! I did feel we have worked up to this challenge so During our little training sessions I got some fake tugging and I got some freezing to stare at the kid running down the road, but my goals were small to start since this is also a dog that has come a long way with noise sensativity. Fast forward 10 minutes after I ended the “training” session and this is such a bad trainer moment because I don’t know how it happened ,but suddenly my dog was tugging. Like crazy tugging like he would do in the house. I must have triggered it with something either in my facial expression or body language. My guess is I ‘relaxed’ being we were done training. Not being in the moment and realizing how we started this amazing tug game was frustrating to me, but now I will be vidoe taping ALL of my training to find out what I am doing to trigger different responses.


  35. Anthea Rocker says:
    Wednesday, March 14, 2012 at 4:56am

    Meant also to say that the Newsletter made me think of my successes too. Next door there are five Jacks who yap every time I or the neighbour on the other side go out. When my dogs go out alone they will bark at the yapping dogs, but come in when called. When we go out and they know it is play/train they totally ignore the yapping which gets greater and greater the more we are running around in the garden. So when we are out to train, my dogs definitely find me more exciting than they find the yappie terriers next door.


    • Lyn says:
      Wednesday, March 14, 2012 at 6:30am

      I find the same thing Anthea. I have two annoying barking dogs next store. They run the fence barking their heads off and if I am out there my 3 don’t give them the time of Day! Good to know they really Do find value in me!!!


  36. Anthea Rocker says:
    Wednesday, March 14, 2012 at 4:34am

    Wow, this Newsletter was just the best. When you were describing triggers for going out and working or playing, since doing your Recallers I bought a video camera. Now I only have to pick up the camera and tripod and all three dogs are dancing round me “Mum we’re about to go in the garden to train!” It used to be me opening the drawer for the poo bags (still is a trigger), but now I think I understand how to create the triggers better – so work to do, better go.
    Thanks again Susan


  37. Judy G says:
    Tuesday, March 13, 2012 at 11:19pm

    You brought tears to my eyes. Awhile ago when breaking up a nasty fight between a soft dog and smaller one, I had a bout of asthma. Now when my breathing becomes labored, my softie slinks off. I hadn’t put it together until I read your last post. I just hope I can turn it around.
    Thanks, as always, for the thought provoking comments.
    Looking forward to contacts.


  38. Chris says:
    Tuesday, March 13, 2012 at 11:09pm

    There are trainers that say that we talk too much (meaning conversationally-as in: Are your ready? to the dogs, but you seem to defy that hypothesis. I like to talk to my dogs.

    I love your analysis of triggers.


  39. Nikki says:
    Tuesday, March 13, 2012 at 11:04pm

    These last 2 newsletters were among the best ever. Thank you, thank you. Can’t wait to try to find new triggers – and maybe get rid of some bad ones! Great articles.


  40. Teresa K says:
    Tuesday, March 13, 2012 at 10:34pm

    Love, love, love these blog posts and newsletter articles! Really makes you take a good look at what really is reinforcing, and what really is the trigger. Looking forward to coming up with some new triggers for my new boy in training. Many thanks!


  41. Mary M says:
    Tuesday, March 13, 2012 at 10:13pm

    Great reminders….and I played my “special trigger” game with Bobby (my 15 year year old boy) tonight, we had not played in a while – blow in face means snap mouth (yes this was a naughty one I captured as a puppy, would not have been reinforced if I thought he had any inkling to do harm or if I had kids, but none of the above were concerns and it made me lough often throughout his life 🙂 Thanks for the reminder of this silly game and everything else I need to evaluate! And thanks for the really awesome content. —-Side note, has John let the dogs get on the furniture now? He is soooo earning that bottle of wine I am bringing if he has LOL!


  42. Jane says:
    Tuesday, March 13, 2012 at 10:02pm

    Nothing like the sound of the toilet paper roll to tell my dogs we’re about to go for a walk….


  43. Jill says:
    Tuesday, March 13, 2012 at 9:41pm

    I love these last two blogs. I am still working on the last assignment and looking forward to developing new triggers and becoming more aware of the triggers we already have.


  44. Kathryn says:
    Tuesday, March 13, 2012 at 9:28pm

    Great dissection of known and not-so-known chains of events and the power of awareness.

    How would you describe triggers in terms of classical and operant conditioning?


  45. PatandBlue says:
    Tuesday, March 13, 2012 at 7:56pm

    Susan, fantastic newsletter. Can’t wait to start building my triggers. I have been trying to do this, but not really understood the mechanics of how to go about it. You made it so clear. Looking forward to the fun I will have with my dog while building my drive triggers. Thanks heaps:-) Pat


  46. Susan says:
    Tuesday, March 13, 2012 at 7:23pm

    Read the Newsletter, I just want to know how you knew that I was going to ask you to write about how to deal with a dog who performs WAY better when she knows I have a treat or toy. This just might be the best Newsletter yet, and that’s saying something! Let the Trigger Games begin….


  47. lois accardi says:
    Tuesday, March 13, 2012 at 6:48pm

    just ran across your site about 2 months . been training my first dog a Griffie now 4 got a c-atch last month. a velcro dog If I would have had your in site 3 yrs ago WHAT a dog I would have had .Now your new focus will come in very helpfull ..We got a rescue griffie mix same age lots fright in her . but we need the fouces on firtst dog who now has Discriston of us trainig #2 gets off table comes to get other dogs treat so on… A dog who had great focus now has trouble .


  48. Jane Danby says:
    Tuesday, March 13, 2012 at 6:48pm

    What joy to see DeCaff and Buzzy out there on the field having fun – so much learning taken place since they too were puppies, we’re following in great paw prints!


  49. denisei says:
    Tuesday, March 13, 2012 at 5:48pm

    Swagger is so funny 🙂

    Love how you always manage to break a problem down and get right to the guts of the issue (e.g trialling problems). “Where is the value” is the single most important thing I’ve learnt from you in recent times.

    Would have been funny to watch Feature if you’d said “I’m gonna smoke ya”!! 🙂


  50. Renee King says:
    Tuesday, March 13, 2012 at 5:29pm

    SUSAN, LOVE the new music!!! 🙂

    Of course, love the message too and can’t wait for the contact course!!



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