A couple of weeks ago, I wrote about the common challenge many have with dogs jumping up on people, and suggested that the best thing that you can do with any struggle is to think about what you want your dog to “do”, and train that.
We all have struggles with our dogs, and it is the decisions we make in the midst of these struggles which define the future for our dogs. Is your chosen solution to today’s challenges cultivating even more problems tomorrow or creating easier solutions to future challenges?
It isn’t the challenges that we face in our dog training that makes us different from one another. It’s our responses to those challenges. In my training, I am always looking to create a rich reinforcement history for what it is I want my dog to DO.
The Road to Do-Land
Dogs don’t understand don’t because don’t is a concept. A more successful approach, one that is not conceptual but rather absolute, is to approach your dog training challenges from the land of “DO” …. and that’s my trigger to segue to what this blog post is about … “Do-Land”.
“Do–Land” is a term coined by one of my online students many years ago. The “what do you want your dog to do?” question is one I’ve been asking people for a long time! Do-Land is the place where we teach our dogs what it is we want them to DO, instead of focusing on the “don’t”.
Rather than putting all of our energy into continually coming up with strategies to stop our dogs from doing something (resulting in frustration for our dog and us), we train our dogs in strategic layers to build a strong foundation and create an abundant reinforcement history for behaviours that we want to see.
In Do-Land, we help the dogs to find joy in the things that we want them to do and what we do is we create a dog that on their own will choose to do what we want. There’s no force, there’s no yelling, there’s no correction, there’s no blame. There’s just joy.
I know that if you are just starting out on the road to Do-Land the goal of creating unbelievably immense value for what it is we do want, rather than coming up with endless ways to stop what we don’t want, can be hard to grasp and put into practice.
When looking at your challenges, try reframing. We as humans constantly put limits on all that is possible with our language. Instead of saying things like “How can I stop my stop doing x, y, or z?” we can ask “What can I do to help build more value for what I want my dog to do?”. A query like “Why can’t he be more like my last dog?” could become “What are 5 things that I really love about this dog?”.
You can make huge strides going forward by just reframing the questions you ask of yourself.
Be willing to step outside of your comfort zone. The old adage “if you always do what you always did you will always get what you always got” is true. Or another way to put it. You can’t keep doing the same thing and expect a different outcome.
I love this quick and simple Bob Bailey formula for success… ‘Dog training is knowing what you want’. Recognize what challenge you want to overcome (as early as possible). Ask yourself the better question about what you want your dog to do. You need your brain to decide it r-e-a-l-l-y wants to have success! Now devise a plan to get you from point A to point B as efficiently and effectively as possible. Remember that reinforcement builds behaviour.
Getting on the road to Do-Land can take some lateral thinking. If it is new for you, it can seem to take some work and planning initially. When we are learning we need to be as patient with ourselves as we would like to be with our dogs. But absolutely, once you get the handle of how to DO things, it shouldn’t take you longer to train a dog.
And I think the relationship that you develop with the dog is second to none.
If this is all new to you, then I would suggest Crate Games Online for the foundations of learning about how effective reinforcement is in training, how to transfer the value of that reinforcement to you, and how to listen to feedback from your dog about where the value is for him. Once you have the foundations, the model for training presented in Crate Games will flow through to all areas of life with your dog.
Let me know in the comments something you have trained your dog to ‘DO’ when there was a challenge you wanted to turn around… or something that you want to train your dog to do!
Today I am grateful to be getting on the road to Hot Springs, Arkansas, USA, next week, and joining my friend and mentor, Bob Bailey, on stage for the “Bob Bailey & Friends Hot Springs 2019 Conference”. This is bringing training with Skinner, Pavlov & the Brelands back to Hot Springs and ‘Think, Plan, Do’ will be at the forefront.
I’m teaching Shilo to put his toys back In the basket, when the alarm on my phone starts playing the song Clean up your toys. We run around the house finding toys to put away and he gets a treat for each one that gets into the basket. He seems to enjoy it.
What I can’t seem to figure is what I want him to do when the garage door opens. My daughter gets home at 12:30am most nights and he barks and growls. Ideally, I would like him to stay asleep and not wake us up. Any thoughts or suggestions?
Our issue is separation—I have to toss a treat to distract then run for the door – just to get out for a few moments…do i give a chew toy for distration?? what to do? what to listen to?? thank you!
My 3 month old puppy won’t stop biting.
Hi Barbara, Susan has three podcast videos to help.
Episode 17: Help! How do I STOP Puppy Biting?!
4 Puppy and Dog Training Games for Acquired Bite Inhibition
Episode 82: Aggressive Puppy Biting Solved
What I’d love is for River to be able to focus on me and what we’re doing at agility class. The joy of his life is other dogs and when we’re training he’s just waiting for an opportunity to run off to the other dogs waiting for their turn.
He loves food and toys but it’s like all he can think about is DOG DOG DOG. I can’t trust him off leash, I’m finding it really hard to show him how awesome agility is because he’s like “Fine, I’ll jump if I have to, but I’m haring off back to my dog friends as soon as I get the opportunity.”
He had great forward drive when we first started but it’s difficult for us at the moment. I suspect it’s because he’s an only dog who really likes dogs, so when we see them on walks or at class he’s super excited and feels he needs his “fix”.
Basically I want me and what I’m asking him to do to be more rewarding than dogs. It’s a tough ask!
It’s Tami from the long email from above.
I believe I need encouragement that Amber and I can do this program and be the team I want us to be.
Can anyone rah-rah me or give me suggestions.
Of course, you can train the way that we do, in Susan’s programs. Thousands and thousands and THOUSANDS of people train with positive reinforcement and live in ‘Do-Land” all over the world, with all kinds of animals, not only dogs. You can too.
All the best to you,
Hi Tami, I’m new to the program and just read your post and felt I could relate to where you were when you were writing this.
I hope you reached out in a similar manner on the main Facebook group. This doesn’t look like the ideal location to get the quantity of feedback I imagine you could benefit from.
I’ll look for your name and post on the Facebook group. I would love to hear how you and Amber are making out all these months later.
I’m at my wits end. I’d ask my classmates, yet I cannot change my password. If you could assist me with that, it’d be greatly appreciated.
I watched your video and I’ve decided that I would love Amber to do: with me:
attend to me
come when called
Have Amber stop biting Reed’s sensitive back legs to entice him to play. Amber is a wrestler, Reed is a runner. My husband plays a game with both dogs where they run and chase each other. They will not play this with me.. This tires both dogs out.
walk on a loose leash
calm Amber after dinner
Amber is my 2-year-old pit/lab. She can do crate training etc, when in a secluded area (my bathroom)
I’ve taken Amber outside to work provided my other dog isn’t around. Training can be hit or miss.
She is extremely active and extremely food directed.
Sometimes getting out of bed is a hardship, so I’m praying training Amber can help me have some direction. I’m bobbing along the river of life.Bumping into everything.
I don’t train every day, maybe 2-3 times a week, That’s on me We repeat over and over on the basics of HS the Dog. If it’s not consistent, she gets confused. I need to put a note on my backdoor to get my husband to follow through.with what I’m doing.
I love Amber very much that I’d like to be able to do things outdoors with her.. Even a walk.
I run her, use brain games, etc. Five minutes later she is up and ready to go.
Amber energy drains the hell out of me.
Is there any time during the day that I can take a break for my mental health?
Help me please. I know that Susan has HS the Dog, podcast vlog (huh?), newsletter, videos on her the site and you tube.
I look forward to hearing from you. I keep saying I’m going to send in a video and I don’t My carry-through can really sucks.
Please help me help Amber and I into Do-Land. I don’t want to give up on us.
Thank you for all you do so dogs and people can enjoy life.
Tami and Amber
PS…guess what? I enable my dogs. If I put them in place, I go to the toy box to give each dog something to o. And Amber always, I mean always, takes Reed’s toys.
God Bless you all.!
I just looove your interviews with Bob Bailey, Susan
I lived with Basenjis for around forty years. No barky. Now I have three mixed breed rescues. Lots of barky! Especially if someone is walking past the front, or riding a horse, or if the cat across the street is strolling across its driveway. My fence goes all the way around the house, so they can run the front fence and go crazy.
To save my sanity, I figured I’d need to get them to leave the fence, and the barking, and come to me when I come out the front door. Which means I have to go out multiple times when they’re out and nothing is going on, and hand out treats. I take treats I can toss (two of them are aces at catching), so I can get them to sit still and not mug me — or each other.
A work in progress, letting them make good choices.
Here is what my two do, we are out walking come across a dog, they just sit there or lay down and stare, frozen. If the other dog is pulling to get to us, then they start to pull. Then the real fun starts, I’m trying to plant my feet to the ground and trying to get their attention. They don’t growl or bark. But if I only have one it is a different outcome, I can get him or her to keep walking. I know what I want them to do is just look at the dogs and continue on are walk. Here I am explaining to the other owners that my two are strange when together. What would be the best thing I can do in this situation.
I would love to teach my 1yr old lab to look at me when we see other dogs. Up until he was about 10months we had wonderful walks but then what seemed like over night BAM it was like we had a different dog. Every time we see another dog he lunges and pulls me down the street. I have been doing engage/disengage games at a big distance which has been working. It is when we meet another dog unexpectedly we have the biggest problem. Today he nearly got us both run over trying to get to another dog!
Help I am at the end of my tether.
Hi Carole, Susan has a great vlog on “Vlog: Dog Body Language, Fear and Aggression” to help:
Thank you so much for your article and to the person that sent me the link to it. I have a new 3 1/2 month old standard poodle puppy that I am just beginning to train and I have so much to learn!
I don’t have magic answers. But one thing that works for me to coup not cure, is as soon as I see a dog, I throw cookies on the grass. It takes them at least 20 seconds to get them and it seems that dogs pre-fully stressed out can’t resist food on the ground. Who knows who else might get it first. It works much better than hand held treats for me. And I think it is calming. But no cure.
We have a wonderful 6 month old golden retriever who is so well behaved in the house, but on a leash she wants to pull to see people and her dog friends. She is getting very strong and we have to get her to walk with us and not pull. I have tried everything except what will work. I need some ideas. Thank you.
Dear Susan, it’s the first time I write to you. My English is very poor, but I am able to understand all your explanations quite well. I like your manner to deal with dogs. I have two Cocker Spaniels a male 8years old and a female 13 years. I do some activities with them (tricks, a little bit dog dance and rally obedience (for agility I am unfortunately too old).
My problem is when they are on leash and we met other dogs, their behavior is not ok.(They are barking and pushing on the leash) Without leash no problem. When we assiste a training lesson, and there are unknown dogs, their behavior is also ok.
Very grateful for your suggestions.
I have the same exact problem. I have been distracting my dog with high value treats when another dog goes by. It works sometimes. Once he gets crazy barking at the other dog it is hard to get his attention. Very stressful walks.
Taught my 5 month old puppy Mattie the game of waiting for the treat and not just taking it, we use that in every aspect of her receiving a treat. So, entered Do-land and taught her to sit at by her raised food bowl holder, wait for me to put her food bowl down, and wait for me to say ok. She use to run me over to get to her food bowl, had her face in it before I could even set it down, but now she sits and is waiting for the ok, to eat. She is now 8 months old, and is a delight at feeding time..
I totally love the idea of “Do Land” but have the problem of retraining my 5yr old Standard Poodle whom I have allowed to develop an “I don’t work unless there are treats available or I feel like it” and we’ve somehow lost the joy along the way. We started with Susan’s recaller games but she was so reactive and I had physical problems as she was going through her teenage development. Any ideas how I can retrieve the joy and partnership?
I would like my dog to stop whining when waiting for her dinner to be served up and when we are going out.
How do I get my dog bailey to stop jumping on people and nipping
Hi Melissa, Susan’s blog on dogs jumping up will help:
I have a reactive dog that can seem overjoyed when she meets new people but in fact she is also scared. When someone was coming through our door it was a struggle to make her not to “attack” our visitors with what might seem like a delight. I started to put her on leash and waited 4-5 meters from the door with her, so our visitors and even the family would get in, take off their outerwear and say hello before they greeted her. I also asked them to ignore her until she was really calm. It started with an eager dog on the leash but after a few times she learned to calm down and wait. The proof that she herself appreciates not having to stress up came after about a month when I didn’t show up and connect her before the visitor entered the house. Then she came running to me inside the house, not to the visitor, as if she wanted to say – Help me then mom.
First: Love your training! Second: It saved the love for my dogs!
Last year with my Lilith turning 1 year I realized I was lost in a dead end. I did not think of importing my normal clicker sessions into my life. Lilith was (nomen est Omen?) a friendly thunderstorm. Not thinking. Just reacting to triggers. And I could not help her. When I realized I had to stop this cycle I was unhappy and frustrated.
But your Recallers opening saved our training and daily routine.
From not stopping at stairs to waiting for Realese
From crazy spinning and screaming in the car to mostly quiet rides
From adopting all triggers like flying birds (biggest challange), wild animals, cats and bikes to waiting patiantly for a release or a she looks back to ask for an other option
MY biggest win: From going absolutly crazy when we meet other dogs (crazy: barking, jumping into the leash, biting, screaming, crushing into them…Even when they were kilometers away) to a still exciting, but easier to handle girl. We have still a long way to go but now I can help her. We have relaxed walkings, even close face to face meetings with other dogs.
I had to learn to enter Do Land 😂 not my dogs!
My rescue yorkiepo loves everyone ! She runs to our classmates and jumps up on them . My value disappears. How do I become the most valuable reward?
I would say that you need to transfer her reinforcement through you and not allow her to self gratify by being allowed to run to her classmates. Control your environment and try joining Susan’s recallers group. It shows you in detail how increase your value through games and rewards. Enjoy 😊
When my dog was very young, he was the consummate sock thief. This usually happened in the morning when I was getting ready to go to work. One morning, as I was getting ready to go to work, my dog did a down in front of my dresser. I had a few treats (kibble) on my dresser and so I put one in between his front feet. It didn’t take many repetitions and my dog knew where he could get cookies. It became a regular game. My dog is almost 10-years-old now and we still play the game. The difference is when I cannot find him in the morning, he is in front of my dresser lying down. He started playing without me. Also, my socks last a lot longer.
The jumping up issue really hits home with me. I have a dog that has trouble containing her excitement and she literally jumps for joy. We have been working on it since she was a pup, but she still gets soooooo excited when we get to agility class, she has trouble containing her excitement and jumps – a lot. I use side, heel, OFF and 4 on the floor and commands I want her to Do instead, but it is still a struggle when she gets excited. I also repeat the words Calm and Easy quite a bit. Any other suggestions?
Have you tried ignoring her until her energy goes down and all four feet are on the floor? Also, may take a while and I’m sure it will test your patience, but have you tried only entering the agility location when she is calm? If she’s excited, don’t move any closer to the agility location or move away until she is calm. You can also apply that simply to the jumping, as soon as she jumps you go away from where she wants to be. I wouldn’t talk for any of this, actions and body language are much louder than words. The more consistent and patient you are, the more success you will have and you may have to miss a few agility practices while you work on teaching her that she gets what she wants (to go do agility) when all feet (or at least three) are on the ground, you may not even reach the building the first few tries, don’t give up!
My BC has always had a great retrieve BUT she would ‘throw’ whatever she retrieved at me, leaving me to pick it up. 🙁 I joined the Recallers program and started using only tug toys when playing. The game of tug has improved her ‘give’ and, although, when she is really excited, she still finds it difficult to give me the toy when we first start out because she is soooo excited to be out working, we have an 80% improvement and we continue our journey to Do Land 😀