How to Clear Out a Dog Park
I have really gotten into competing lately! I like the level of control and obedience I need to be able to take my dog to a dog show and be successful.
We were shocked to be invited to the AKC National Rally competition in Oklahoma! I guess that means we are doing something right!
And, for the most part I don’t go to obedience school, so my dog isn’t use to being in a class full of dogs.
So I learned as I practiced for our last obedience program that I needed to teach my dog to listen under all kinds of crazy dog distractions.
My ultimate goal was to be able to get her to listen to me in the middle of a dog park with other dogs running around and poking at her.
I figured if she could listen to me under this kind of distraction she would be able to listen while we were at a dog show and/or dog obedience competition.
Always Make Your Training More Difficult Than Your Goal
If I am training for a 2 minute down stay; I train for a 10 minute down stay.
If the stay is under minimal distractions then I want to train and practice in a crazy, busy environment.
If my dog has to withstand two shots of gunfire, I want to train with a dozen or more.
So when it comes time for trial, competition or whatever event, I know my dog can easily be successful.
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I Hate Pattern Training
Most dog competitions or whatever you are training for has a set goal or a set pattern and although I want to be able to conquer and know the pattern, I hate pattern training.
I think pattern training is boring, not only for me but also for the dog.
And, I think if anything happens and you miss a cue or your dog does something wrong your whole pattern or ritual will fail.
Instead I like to mix it up and make things fun and I want my dog to listen to any command no matter where it falls within a pattern.
If true obedience is the key then pattern training goes against that basic goal.
Patterns and rituals get boring to me and my dog.
I like to throw in anything that makes training fun!
I often throw some agility into my obedience routines to spice them up a bit. This is good for both my agility training and my obedience training!
I also like to lay down on my stomach or skip while giving a command, this makes it more difficult for my dog and teaches her to listen to my commands and not my body language.
Body language, if you are anything like me, changes when you compete. You get stiff and nervous and your dog can’t understand why. So if you teach your dog to pay attention to your commands and not your body then it is easier for you both on the day of the trial.
But Be Prepared…
I swear I have about 20 minutes from the time I enter any given dog park until I have completely cleared it out.
It’s funny really…
Although my dog is not overly friendly to other dogs, she is also not aggressive. The most she will do is get a little stiff when another dog comes to engage her in play while she is training. And, this body language simply tells the other dogs that she isn’t interested without her having to get verbally nasty.
But, the owners of the dogs at the dog park find my doing obedience completely irritating.
I’m not quite sure whether they think she is aggressive, whether they don’t want to interfere, or whether they are completely horrified that a dog is doing obedience in a dog park.
So, I have timed it and the longest it has taken was about 20 minutes to completely clear a dog park out at prime time.
It seems no one wants to stay long with someone doing dog obedience in the middle of a dog park.
I Don’t Let it Stop Me
Some people think it is abusive to train a dog in the dog park, I personally think it is good obedience!
I have developed tough skin, and I am use to being judged harshly so I don’t let it bother me anymore. I just know that after a short time we will be on our own with a large fenced area to train!
And, I keep going back.
I mix up which park we visit and the times we frequent so that she gets exposure to many dogs and situations.
The key to successful dog obedience is mixing it up, having fun, and training past your goals!
As always fun between me and my girl is the most important thing!
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I have been a professional dog trainer and pet sitter for over 20 years. I am a Certified Professional Dog Trainer, through the international Certification Counsel of Professional Dog Trainers. I have trained and worked with police, Schutzhund and personal protection dogs. I trained Assistance Dogs in a men’s prison and ran my own nonprofit organization to take adult dogs from shelters and to train them to assist children and adults with disabilities, at no charge to my clients. My nonprofit organization and I were nominated for several awards of merit and even made the front page of the Denver Post. I was a veterinary technician for many years, where I learned about all aspects of health and preventative medicine. I have trained and worked with exotic animals and cheetahs. I introduced a temperament testing program in my local shelter and sat on the board of directors. I volunteered with my dog “Mr. Snitch” and helped local children learn to read. I have attained obedience titles and several blue ribbons. I am constantly in search of ways to continue my education and excellence when it comes to animals, their behavior and their health.