About Dog Positive: gentle reward based training

Dog Positive is run by Tanya Hawkes.

I meet with owners and their dogs to observe behaviour, practice reward based training techniques and make recommendations based on the breed, behaviour issues, environment and background of the dog. I’m happy to help with training young puppies and their owners in basic obedience skills, discuss specific behaviour issues in adult dogs, and can make recommendations for where to go for more challenging issues.

Case study

Melody is a Collie who came to Dog Positive. Found abandoned at a very young age, she’s now a well loved and settled dog who loves the company of people and other animals. Like lots of collies, she loves training and learns fast. One thing that Melody’s owner struggled with was getting melody to ‘come back’ at the end of walks.

After some careful observation, it seemed that Melody’s behaviour as shaped by the fact that getting into the car, has always signalled the end of the walk. To her, coming back to her owner seemed like a punishment. Although, not a physically painful punishment, ‘come here’ signalled the end of a fun walk, so she had every reason to ignore the request.

We wrote up a plan for Melody’s owner to experiment with. We used rewards to shape Melody’s behaviour so she’d respond first time and her owner disrupted the pattern that Melody had inadvertently learned by occasionally calling Melody back and playing with her and a squeaky toy (her favourite thing) instead of putting her on the lead and into the car. By introducing a ‘variable reward’ for ‘come here’ at the end of a walk, Melody stopped associating the end of the walk with the boringness of the car. She didn’t know when she might receive her reward, so was more interested in coming back to her owner.

Why was this important?
While it wasn’t a huge problem for Melody or her owner if Melody took a long time to ‘come,’ during lambing season it potentially left Melody in a dangerous situation. If she’d run near a sheep field a farmer could mistake her behaviour for sheep worrying. It was important that Melody should be able to have the freedom of off-lead roaming, but be able to safely return when her owner needed her to.

Get in touch with me via the contact page, if you’d like to discuss a session.

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