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"I invent nothing, I rediscover." - August Rodin
In the field of dog training, we are constantly searching and experimenting with different training methods and techniques to assure us that our K9 companions go through a minimum of compulsion and a lack of confusion. Wouldn't it be great if there were a training technique that we could use on our young or green dogs to better prepare them for the more advanced training that we all hope they attain? There is. Its called the opposition reflex. Let me explain.
Animals as well as humans have reflexes that they react to in similar ways. With regard to leash work, if you pull the dog, the dog reacts by pulling back. If you were to push the dog, they would push back. This is the opposition reflex. And it is a great training tool. In my experience, and I use it with EVERY dog that I train, it aids us in the following:
1: Builds stronger bond with owner/handler
2: Poison proofing
3: Theft proofing
4: Decoy opposition (call-offs)
First off, if your dog is trained properly, it should ONLY respond to commands from its owner/handler. We've all heard the old "my dog is great, she listens to everybody." Well we don't want that. That means ANYBODY can steal your dog, poison them, or even OUT them. Let me give you example of how this works:
Lets take a basic exercise, the sit. Owner commands the dog to sit. By the way, the dog is wearing 2 leashes, one connected to a prong collar, one to a standard leather or buckle collar. A stranger walks up, grabs the leash to the buckle collar and pulls. Just enough that the dog shows resistance, but makes it look like he's really straining to pull the dog out of the sit position. After bad guy lets go, owner lavishes praise. With the dog pulling back, he is saying, "hey pal, my owner told me to sit, and I'm staying right here." In effect we have tricked the dog into staying put, but by their own choice. More importantly, THE DOG WON. Same thing with the down. Have a dog that won't do a long down? Try this. Works like a charm.
How about theft proofing your dog. Set up different scenarios. Put your dog in a down. Have someone pull up in a car and try to pull them into their car. Remember: 2 leashes. Bad guy pulls on the buckle collar leash, if the dog attempts to get up, correction with the prong collar. Again, you reward compliance to your sit command, but more importantly, reward IGNORANCE of the bad guy!! When you get to the proofing phase, throw on a TriTronics collar and test your dog in these scenarios from a distance, or better yet, completely out of sight. The possibilities are endless. Starting to see where this helps with poison proofing and decoy opposition?
And who's never had a dog with a jumping problem. I've changed dogs minds about jumping in MINUTES with this technique. Put the dog on a leash connected to a prong collar. Step on the leash, and now pound your chest daring the dog to leap! After the first attempt is stymied, do it again. Have everyone present slap their chests and dare the dog to jump. Remember: foot on the leash. Very important, your hands are in plain sight to the dog, pounding your chest. Therefore you are BLAMELESS for the correction. This is vital. I always tell my clients one of my cardinal rules: NEVER GET CAUGHT CORRECTING YOUR DOG!!! If the dog thinks he/she is causing the correction/compulsion, the behavior will cease.
Now have the same bad guy put a sleeve on and try to call your dog off him. Better yet, take the 2nd leash off that's attached to the buckle collar and have the bad guy reaching for the dog's collar to arouse his suspicions. If you want, have the dog thief sneak up wearing a sleeve. In KNPV the dog is supposed to show aggression during poison proofing, so this is a great way to start. The options available are only limited by the imagination of the handler/owner.
And just to show how old this method is, it appears on page 199 of Mr. Kohler's "Guard Dog Training" book written in 1962. Try it. Think up different scenarios. Your training time will benefit. And more importantly, your dog will benefit.
"Everything has been thought of already. The idea is to think of it again." - author unknown
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