Our dogs are our best teachers, and I’ve been learning from Tater who jumped off a cliff chasing a chipmunk recently. Now, the choice to chase could have ended his life, so we’re back in Ruff Love with Mr Potato Salad (aka Tater). I took a video on one of our walks this week to cover some misconceptions about the program.
Tater’s back in Ruff Love not because he is being punished. He’s back in Ruff Love so I can focus on the training so he can have the freedom I want him to have.
Ruff Love is about intensifying the kindness we show to our dogs. It is eliminating the rehearsals of things they could do that are dangerous to themselves or others, and the things that are going to cause us frustration, maybe even make us angry and erode the relationship we have with our dog.
The challenge with my book Ruff Love is that it’s a very small book. You can easily read it in one night. It was the first book I ever wrote, and the big mistake I made as an author was assuming that people would understand it was all about setting the dog up for success. When I wrote it, I didn’t think I needed to detail the overarching core values of what we really want is an amazing family pet who has freedom in their life.
Set Your Dog Up For Success
There’s a very old school dog training belief that to get a dog to work for you, you need to isolate him, and many people relate this to “Stockholm Syndrome” where hostages develop an alliance with captors. When Ruff Love was first released all those years ago, it got some pretty harsh criticism from many in the clicker training circles who likened the book to this old school thinking.
That was my bad because I was not clear in the book and made the assumption people would read it with the understanding of setting dogs up for success and supervising. I wrote about this in my blog post “Could I Be A Dog-Loving Mentor?“. My dogs … and I hope everyone’s dogs … are very much loved and important members of the family.
The bottom line in Ruff Love is that our dogs should be supervised. So, if you are on a computer working and can’t keep your eye on what your dog might be getting into, I would suggest that you put your dog in an ex-pen beside the computer. Then every half hour you can get your dog out and play a game from the book. The games in Ruff Love became the foundation of my online program, Recallers.
Ruff Love has helped many thousands of dogs and people, so if you are ‘on the fence’ about it, I encourage you to reframe your thinking. It’s a program of kindness. It’s eliminating the choices a dog could make that potentially could injure or kill him. It should be an enriching time for the dog where his life just got better, and it should be a great time of discovery for you as a dog trainer of your dog.
It’s going to let you give your dog the kindness of setting him up for success and creating a rich reinforcement history for what you want him to do. It’s going to grow the relationship you have with your dog. If you think about it from a point of kindness, then you’re always going to make the right choice for the dog.
Let me know in the comments below if you have any questions about what I covered in the video.
Coming up, I’ll be sharing tips with Tater on leash and off , so if you have not already subscribed to my newsletter, fill in the form here on my blog, and I’ll let you know about new posts.
Today I am grateful for our dogs and all they teach us.
Hi, anyway you can make it available on like Amazon kindle as an e-book? The cost of shipping is almost as much as the book. I would love to buy it but shipping is a lot so if it comes out as an e-book, that would be better for those of us like me that are in the United States and don’t want to pay $13 for shipping. How is Tater doing now?
I think it would be most helpful to chronicle your ruff love journey with Tater… A dedicated Vlog of sorts. Just an idea
Me and my 1 year old standard poodle are doing stuff Love now. We also did Homeschool the Dog, but now in adolescence need to go bakc to basics basics to build more value for focusing and engaging with me. I see that you are on a sniff walk with Tater…. For my dog who finds the environments SUPER reinforcing, more so than me, are sniff walks appropriate during stage 1? We are working with a behaviorist who has us on a bmod very similar to Ruff Love, so reading the book helped to clarify and reinforce that plan. She does not want him to get the chance to self-reinforce in the environment unless it is a reward, I.e walking focused on me and then I give him a “go sniff” cue. I’m curious on your use of things like sniff walks, decompression walks, etc during stage 1 of Ruff Love.
Hi Alison, Susan has a podcast video to help that covers sniffing on walks, here’s where you can watch.
Shaped by Dog Episode 74: Yes, Susan Garrett’s Dogs Sniff On Walks
Maybe it’s time for a revision so you could correct the assumptions… and maybe rework the title?
Thank you so much for this video. I just reread ruff love last week for my 5.5 year old Aussie, Grace. I have a 7 mos old aussie puppy, Zing, and since his arrival, it has exposed issues of confidence in my Grace. I read Ruff Love when Grace was young but it didn’t click. When I reread it last week, I saw it differently. I saw it as setting up for success. But I was a little afraid of trying a crate all the time as Grace seems to be very sensitive. Thank you for sharing that it is about limiting choices, not necessarily a crate. I am assuming you do still encourage a crate at night. This would be a big change for her. The puppy is in a crate at night. I love the games part and hope this and Recallers help me us become a success story. Thank you again for giving me the confidence to do this.
Ooh Susan! As for Ruff Love – I “GOT IT” when you first wrote it. I admit I did not follow it “to the letter,” rather changed parts a bit for our uses, but it was great for what I needed it for. I had 5 dogs at the time, different ages, different mix-breeds, different strengths and weaknesses, and by putting them all on the program at the same time really helped them (and me) have a lot more fun together while training! It’s a classic, and my favorite training book of all time.
So glad ive seen your blog with up date for ruff love. Am getting my pup in 3 weeks time an d intend to follow the puppy chapters. I realised i have previously given my dogs to much freedom, i put this down to feeling guilty about working full time
And my over exuberance for socialising puppys. I created a dog that was self rewarding at every turn, everyone a nd every thing was more interesting than me. I am now retired from work so bring it on. Am so looking forward to my next dog.
Thank you susan
I have a neighbor that has a 4 month old bc puppy that has food and toy aggression. Would you book ruff love to the one for her.
Thanks so much for the video and comments about Ruff Love. I would love to get the book- only the cost of shipping is as much as the book- I live in Hawaii. Any chance you will be making an e-book in the near future?
How can I reinforce NOT marking when I take my boy on a walk? He wants to stop and smell, sure! So I think this is good, but he squirts way quicker than I can catch him. Of course, I want him to relieve himself, but this is definitely marking. What type of choice or game can I practice to draw him away from wanting to mark on our walks outside? He’s two years old. Doesn’t mark in the house.
What sort of “little behaviors” do you do along the way while you are walking Tater on leash?
OK, I have a ‘chipmunk-chaser’ too, and this will be a great way to get back our recall!! Ordering the book NOW! Thanks Susan for a timely post.
I loved that book! In fact, I bought a copy for a close friend that thinks babying her dog will result in a dog that will do anything for her and she’s creating a monster. I have a training school and recommend it to all my students!
I have had the book for years but going to dust it off..we are long time recallers and have no problem calling jake off of deer and last week with one call he left a chipmunk that was inches away.. but we have plenty of other triggers to work thru….when i got mr jakester our trainer recommended it but with she negitive slant that Susan discussed here. I never really engaged in it because iI read it with the harsh light. I think by using it when he was younger he would have bern calmer and more focused. So sorry that i didnt use it in his early years…. thank you Susan
This came at the perfect time. I purchased the book and am 1 week in and already seeing changes. I have found the exercises and games to be so much fun. Our recalls are improving dramatically. I am willing to put in the work to create the relationship I need to compete with this dog. I’ve been told she could be “brilliant” and “great” if I can turn her around. I’m learning something new everyday!
Keep us posted on Tater and give us some insight on your journal entries.
Thank you for your continued dedication to helping the rest on us learn more! Don’t ever stop!
Thanks for sharing this blog. I have your book Ruff Love which I purchased over a year ago prior to joining Recallers. It provides very useful information on training your dog to succeed.
I’m glad you shared your story about Tater because my dog has setbacks and I get frustrated but need to understand I need to start over
Susan, I could not imagine you doing anything that was not out of kindness or love for your/our dogs. Thank you for sharing all of that.
Thank you for the quick video about Ruff Love. I bought the book when it first came out and really enjoyed it. A good guideline of training.
Ruff Love worked for Buzz’s great nephew Will.
I just found my original copy of Ruff Love from 2002. I have a new dog who is impossible and I needed a reminder to bring out this book again. It worked with the original dog I used it for and know it will help me to train this new dog the right way.
I think Buddy needs to go back to Ruff Love, too. A week and a half ago he killed a baby groundhog, even though I was trying to call him off. Nonetheless, it is entirely my fault. As I’ve gotten busier working and studying at university I haven’t had as much time for him, so our relationship has suffered. In combination with being busier, mental health issues have also caused me to put aside anything not vital for survival, which included his training. So, here we are, trying to turn that around and rebuild what we once had (maybe even make our relationship better than before?). My dog is almost 10 years old and we’re having to start back where we were when I got him as a 10 month old. This time, we’re doing everything possible to embrace Say Yes methodology. I got Buddy when I was just a teenager, and he’s seen every training method under the sun, from the Koehler Method, to the Monks of New Skete, or Cesar Milan… to Zak George, Ken Ramirez, and Victoria Stilwell. But I can safely say this, Say Yes is solid. I’ve dabbled in it for years, I had the amazing opportunity to participate in H360 when my dog was younger, I really hoped to compete with him, but other things at the time fell through and I lost my ability to continue in the program for outside reasons (not related to anything with Say Yes). At this point, I would love for the day when I can afford Recallers, but with Covid-19 and related financial hardships that will be put on hold. But Susan and her entire team are so generous with all of the free workshops and Homeschooling the Dog program that they’ve offered. I don’t know why it has taken this long, but I can say, I’m all in. Say Yes, whether through the free workshops or the books/DVD’s I’ve bought from Susan have made the change in me, my dog, and my training that I always wanted to see. None of the other training methods I used made me feel good about how I was working with my dog. It was either turning him into a quivering ball of fear or mindless, lure-following drone. Long story short, it’s never too late to make a difference for your dog and it’s ok to be honest with where they and you are at. I’m starting over with a 10 year old dog that I’ve had for 9 years, but this time we’re not sampling all the different trainers, we’re sticking with what works. We’re sticking with Susan and Say Yes :). (Sorry, this was way longer than I was expecting….)
I have a little mini Aussie that is a hunter not a herder she went into Ruff Love this week too. After two incidents this week one the sqiurrel survived, one didnt .😫
I’d really like to get the book but I need it in an e-book format otherwise I’ll never get it in the post here in South Africa. Could you make it available in a pdf file that we can pay for and then download online? Please regards Sue
OMGeee thank goodness he was okay. Similar thing happened to The Popstar a few days ago – she was getting out of the RV by the front door when she spotted a cat under a vehicle further up the lane. Before I knew what was happening she was off. Her excellent recall didn’t work & she vanished from sight. Fortunately no vehicles were about 🙏. Was just thinking time to dig out my Recallers stuff again, but will look at Ruff Love again instead. 😇
Regarding sniffing on walks, apparently a 20 minute sniff walk is equivalent to a 2 hour hike.
BTW FYI she is fast becoming a superb hard surface tracking dog 🤩🥳. Kind regards 😎🐾🌷
I have an energetic 2 year old terrier mix. She loves to chase squirrels. I was just saying “I think she needs Ruff Love”. On off leash walks she gets toooooo far from me, though her recall is EXCELLENT. I don’t have a fenced yard. And she REALLY needs to run and run and run. I am conflicted about how to implement Ruff Love and still get her energy needs met. Really, from the start of life with her…I gave her more freedom than she had earned because living with her with excess energy is pretty miserable. Thoughts?
Hi Susan, would this work for a 4 years old Golden who has no recall at all if there is any wildlife or human friends around? I am in Recallers and have been working a lot with him and thought I was making progress, until 2 days ago when he took off after a deer and I could not get him back even when I was a few meters away! Deer is ok but I am so frustrated and defleated 🙁 thank you for any advice!
How do you know when Tater won’t make the wrong choice when free to do so? Understand that you’ve reinforced the fun of being with you but when can you trust him again not to need your constant vigilance?
Love your chats.
His Sue, not sure that I follow this. I need my dog not to chase livestock, when I’m not with him. How do you achieve that without an electric collar?
I read Ruff Love ( I understood it was meant for dog and owners relationship from the start) first, then Shaping Success with lots of high=lighting in both! My dog is obsessed with wildlife and a lot of it was the mistakes I made while he was a puppy for sure and I’m paying for it now!I’m so excited to have discovered you and your wonderful books and training programs we are in crate games , Recallers, and just started Agility Nation The difference it is making is so exciting each layer is subtle at first but wow so fun to witness! I’m so committed and our relationship gets better every day! I will Continue working your programs using some ruff love along with everything else we are doing! Thx for being so clear!
I loved reading Ruff Love and learned so much from reading it, and Shaping Success, too! Thank you for all you do to help us train our dogs !
Needed to read this today. My 7 year old Aussie has charged the fence where my neighbors horses a few times recently. We’re getting back on the love my dog train!
Hi Susan I was blown away by this weeks post on Ruff Love as five days ago it was recommended by Natalie Kirkwood after Toby tried to eat her ducks😱 that we do Ruff Love .Toby is a 13 month old Border Collie 🙂
So day 5 today and I am already seeing a difference 🙂
Hang in there Tater 🙂
Hang in there Tater
Hope he is ok and Have Ruff Love and Shaping Success and glad you wrote them for need it for Gemma who reacts to everything and even TV . I know you can help Tatter and you are a God sent and inspiration to alot of people ❤❤⚘⚘
The first dog that I put into Ruff Love received way more attention and kindness after he started Ruff Love,than he received before. Sure he was laying around the house before that, but he didn’t get my focused attention until I commenced the programme. That was a huge eye opener for me, and one I am very grateful… Oh yes, and by controlling his reinforcement, he received a bunch of rewards from me (rather than everything else) and our relationship absolutely bloomed.