The Rip Van Wrinkler, XXV, Issue 2, May 2021

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Training Conversation

Goldie, napping on the job. S K-M photo

1. The Partnership with a Hound.

2. Susan Garrett.

The Partnership with a Hound

I think the frustration with hounds comes from a lack of understanding of them and what their original purpose for being selectively being bred.
Hounds do not believe that they NEED you. You are a lovely part of their day - like a favorite coffee cup or a favorite pair of shoes. If the cup is broken or the shoes are lost, we can get along just fine with another.
Let me explain:
Where other breeds of dogs like Labradors, Shepherds, Border Collies, and a host of others are bred to work WITH man; their original bred temperament is to work alongside man in cooperation to achieve a goal.
The Border Collie follows man's commands to herd the livestock. The Lab follows the hunter's commands to get the quarry - so and so forth. They are a teammates of man. Neither can do their work without the other --- and so they have been bred for eons to have that in their make up --- to be anxious to please. Even the worst behaved Labrador cares when mom and dad are annoyed. It is in their DNA to make man happy.
Hounds... not so much.
Hounds have been bred for eons to be taken out to the edge of the woods or field and be let loose to go out and do what they do with NO INSTRUCTION from the hunter or handler. They go out and do their thing, all on their own. They make their own decisions and do their own work. And when that work is done and they have found their quarry, they command/call the hunter to come to them with those beautiful voices. (Who is working for whom in that scenario?)
Do you see how your hound thinks differently?
Life with a Hound is far more like having a spouse than a dog. It is far more of a "cooperative effort" with all the give and take that implies. Hounds are not going to do what you say just because you have said it. You are secondary to their desire. There has to be something in it for them. There has to be a trade off. If there is no reward or benefit for the Hound, the Hound cares little what you are asking him/her to do. People incorrectly refer to this as being stubborn - or worse, stupid.
Hounds are actually neither of those things - they are just independent and cunning. They prioritize things differently than do other breeds. They prioritize differently and *you* are not always their priority.
They were bred to be this way. It is all necessary to be a Successful hound dog.
When working with a Hound you have to always be thinking:
How do I make myself the priority?
What do I have to give this dog to make me more important than what it smells - or wants?
(and do not expect that anything will ever be 100% successful every time - always be looking for your Hound to act like a Hound.)
We humans always think we are in charge of things. We think that we are top of the chain, the head honcho's...and we naturally approach training our dogs and living with our dogs this way - as though we are in charge.
Your Hound doesn't see it that way.
Your Hound - at best - sees you as a family member or as a sibling (if you are very fortunate - as a parent). Do you walk into your sister or brother's house, start barking orders and they hop to?
Mostly your Hound sees you as a good friend. And what do we do with our friends? When a friend does something for us, we return those favors. There is give and take. When a friendship is out of balance - when one friend takes and takes but does not give - the friendship suffers.
Hounds are happiest when their humans are humble and work with their character. A bond with a hound is not an easy one to create. There is a lot of ground work involved but when it is established and the balance is there, it’s a beautiful thing.
So if you have a hound or want one, love and appreciate them for what they are and not what they aren’t.
(This is a repost from a few different areas on the web where the author is unknown. If anyone knows of the author I would be happy to tag them!)

Andrea Stone
I endeavor to be a great friend to my dogs, as they certainly are to me.

Natalie Culver
This essay makes me smile because it brings up fun, funny memories of outdoor agility trials in the heat with my great character of a 1st dog, Kunjo. He learned the agility game almost instantly at training classes. I never had to work & work on teaching him things he was a smart dog & he picked it up quickly, but at outdoor trials on a hot summer day he saw no reason whatsoever to run around in the heat. There are tunnels on agility courses, and... tunnels mean shade. Many a trial I’d crack up laughing at Kunjo as I was running around in the heat on the agility course trying to coax him along and he’d take up a comfy position in the shade of the end of the tunnel, poking his nose out just a bit sometimes and looking at me funny, saying “mom but I found this nice shady spot. If it’s all the same to you I’m just gonna stay here in this tunnel until you come to your senses and leave the ring with me”. Meanwhile the heavily coated and nearly overheated border collies and shelties had to be hosed down to cool off, while Kunjo never got overheated. he’d go lay down in the shade of tunnel or under the scribes table. He was such a character! But to see him on a pleasantly comfortable, not too hot day, he could (& did) run agility courses perfect and very fast, it just had to be to his liking for him to be willing to do that with me.

Susan Kamen Marsicano
Natalie he was perfect.

Susan Garrett's Dog Training Blog:
Expectations vs Understanding in Dog Training
August 9th, 2018|

To call this thing we do “dog training” is a huge disservice to dogs. We are not “training” we are “educating” and just like with children, education starts in kindergarten and ascends onward from there only with understanding.

The number one reason dogs get into trouble has to do with our expectations as owners compared to the level of education our dog has. We may be expecting university level behaviour when our dog is still in kindergarten.

To call it “training” puts the responsibility on the dog to figure it out… “Well, I trained him, but he still doesn’t get it! Maybe he’s just dimwitted or something.”

“Educating” puts the onus on us. As our dog’s educator, we have the responsibility to make sure he is learning what we think we are teaching. The learning happens in layers, progression through those layers only occurs when our dog shows comprehension. The only way our dogs can communicate that comprehension is through their behaviours.

Imagine that you have a child and you like water sports. It’s important for you that your child likes the water and water sports too. But, at the moment, your kid is a little bit afraid of water. (Our imaginary kid here was me by the way, and it took me about 30 years to get over that little bit of fear about water). Or our child might not be really afraid, just disinterested.

So we look at where we are, and with some fun and a quick game, our child is now interested and excited by water and even willing to jump off a low platform into the water. That’s a good start, right? But then what might happen is that we now think “well, he is now interested in the water and will jump off a low platform, I’ll enter him in the Olympic Tryouts for High Diving” … and we put our child on the highest dive board and want him to have good form up there for the tryouts. We wouldn’t really do this with our child, or ourselves, would we? There’s a lot of layers that go from enjoying the water to being an elite high diver at an Olympic competition.

To bring this back to dog training… Let’s say that you and your dog have started playing my ItsYerChoice (IYC) Game. Your dog is beginning to make good choices and has more focus for you. It’s fun for your dog. Now you have played the game you say: “okay, now how do I get him to stop chasing deer?”.

Here’s the thing. Everything we do with our dog to get the behaviours we ultimately want requires us to put in the layers of education to set him up for success so he can meet our expectations.

Think of the layers as the rungs of the ladder to the high diving board. Each of my dogs has achieved a lot of success in competition at a national and international level in the sport of dog agility … the equivalent of our Olympic High Diving in my example in the video. I’ve had to put in a lot of layers of learning for my dogs so that eventually we get to a place where the joy and confidence my dogs have playing ItsYerChoice is the same as the joy and confidence they have at a world level agility competition. There’s never any doubt or hesitation in my dogs when they get to the “high diving board” of world championships.

I’ve also put in the strategic layers of learning so that my dogs want to make a great choice not to chase deer … we do come across deer from time to time on our walks. They have joy and confidence in making that good decision because of the layers of education.

ItsYerChoice and the reason for it is because we put in strategic layers of learning in the form of a game to educate our dogs. It is layering one (very small) good decision on top of another… leading to more complex behaviours and more complex decision making in our dogs. That’s how we maintain the joy and engagement and confidence in our dogs every step along the way.

These layers will take your dog to the “Olympic High Diving Board”, no matter what that looks like for you.

If our dog’s behaviours are not demonstrating what we believe we have “trained,” it’s time to turn the microscope on ourselves as the trainers or on the lesson plans we’ve been trusting in to get us there.

The behaviour or misbehaviour of our dog is only a reflection of the lessons we have taught him. Have we gone from enjoying the water in a kiddie pool, straight to the high dive board at Olympic tryouts, with no layers of learning in between?

Misbehaviour equals a lack of understanding on our dog’s part. There must be a missing layer or two in the “training”… it’s up to us to fill in those gaps, then and only then can our dogs live up to the high expectations we have for them!

Today I am grateful for everyone who is educating their dogs to set them up for success and maintain their joy and confidence.

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