Importance of adapting training to your dog’s personality.

After doing a summer truffle hunt in Korumburra we received some summer truffle. I wanted to get a video to show some of my current clients who are doing the truffle dog training course how I have two dogs of the same breed, similar age, trained by the same person however different personalities.

The first video shows Kovu finding the truffle. He is off lead and first walks into the scent cone at 11 seconds. His COB’s (change in behaviors) are so important for the human part of the truffle team to see. It allows us to be able to see where the truffle scent is by understanding your dog’s body language. So many people focus on the alert at the end; the sit, the drop, the pawing but all that is not as important as seeing the COB’s which had occurred leading up to that alert. How many COB’s can you see?

Next its Zara’s turn. Keep in mind same breed, similar age, trained by the same person however different personalities.

As you can see Zara is distracted and not able to focus. She knows the truffle scent is there she goes to it multiple times, but she is having trouble focusing on actually finding the source. Her COB’s tell me where the truffle scent is, so when she runs a different direction I call her back. Strong recall is very important for a truffle dog. I call her back twice and after that I call it quits. If you are training a dog and they are this distracted the worst thing you can do is try and force them to do something they don’t or cannot do right now. Never get annoyed at them, keep your voice calm even if you are frustrated. In the end it’s their choice to work with you. You have to ask yourself is my dog tired, hungry, too much pent up energy or have I made it too hard for them for their stage of training. For Zara, I can see by her bounding and skipping along she has too much pent up energy and cannot focus without assistance. For her the best thing to help her focus is for her to have a lead and harness on. This triggers her mind to focus on work and she has a much better time working when she can focus fully.

If you enjoy understanding dog body language you may have noticed that she shakes after the search. This is something which occurs sometimes after a high intensity interaction. Its a way the dog can shake off some tension. I accidently made the search a little more frustrating for her then I intended due to the time timing of asking her to show. She reshowed without a command and I don’t want her thinking that she will continue to get food if she keeps showing me over and over. However, I do need her to reshow me the location if I ask. Due to the timing of when I asked she was already showing me a second time when I said the word “Show” so I had to wait until she showed me a third time before I could reward her. This interaction frustrated her hence the shake afterwards. I should of waited until she was either looking at me or looking away from the truffle before asking her to show. But hey, we are only human and sometimes we frustrated our dogs. They forgive us pretty quickly and move on with no hard feelings. Its just important to try and keep these occurrences to a minimum.

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