Lesson Suggestions for Robert

  • Stella

    September 21, 2021 at 10:42 AM

    Another suggestion for lesson topic – corrections. I know some lessons touch on it but I think a more comprehensive lesson dedicated to the topic, on different types, tools, and levels of correction and guidance when to use which ones and how specifically.

  • Mary

    December 4, 2021 at 7:44 PM

    I need a video for kids that explains how to work with a puppy like a malinois, regarding puppy biting/playing/especially playing tug/all of it. I am teaching my 5 year old the best I can but I could use some professional and visual reinforcement.

    • Gene

      December 5, 2021 at 2:25 PM

      Robert has a video on puppy biting. It contains an informative lecture and about 5/7 minutes working with the DwaynoMeter when he was a small puppy. To alleviate puppy biting the basics are the same. With a malinois it will probably take longer due to the high drive in the dog. There is also a vid with Robert working with Dwayno for about 15/20 minutes when he was a small puppy, probably in the puppy section. There are also a couple of videos on tug.

      For now I would have the 5yr old interact with the puppy on walks, give treats, petting, throw a ball in the yard. NO rough housing. I want the puppy to know that he must be calm in the presence of the 5yr old. It is too easy for the dog to jump up and nip in the face because of his size. He may be starting to teeth now so wet dish rag frozen, slice a banana down the middle and freeze it. Give him stuff to chew on. When he gets too worked up just take him to his crate, no corrections, no talking, as he wants to engage in play. He will catch on that the crate is a place to do nothing except chew on something and sleep.

  • Matthew

    March 20, 2022 at 7:31 PM

    More Reactive Dogs Training

  • Matthew

    March 20, 2022 at 7:32 PM

    Basic Search for Rescue Training

    • Riggan

      March 21, 2022 at 5:58 AM


      Even if Robert does not do a lesson on basic SAR training, there are lots of good resources out there for you. An excellent book is “Search Dog Training” by Sandy Bryson. I have been out of SAR work for many years now, so there are probably equally good newer ones that I am not aware of. If you just want to read books about people involved in SAR, both “So That Others May Live” by Caroline Heber and “Scent of the Missing” by Susannah Charleson are good books.

      For the basic training steps to teach a general air scent detection dog (ie, the dog is looking for ANY human scent in the area, not a specific scent):

      1) Have someone hold your dog while you tease him. Then run a short distance away while he is watching and hide behind a tree, bush, wall, or whatever else is available. The person holding the dog keeps him excited: “Where’s he going? He’s lost! What’s happening?!?!” kind of chatter. Then the handler releases the dog with the command “Find Him!” (or whatever you want to use). (Note: do NOT put the dog on a “stay” command or hold him using the collar – you WANT him really revved up. Hold him around the chest.). As soon as the dog reaches you, praise him and play his favorite game, usually tug. (Find what works for YOUR dog. My dog was extremely unusual and considered the find itself his main reward. After the find, he did not want to play – he wanted his tennis ball and then to be left alone with it. It took me a long time to realize that my attempts to get him to play with me after the find were actually somewhat aversive from his perspective. What he wanted was praise for a job well done and his ball. It took even longer for the team trainers to realize that he was still an excellent search dog even if he wasn’t interested in playing tug.) Repeat this step until it is clear that the dog understands the game – run and find you. Gradually hide a little further away. The dog will be using purely visual cues at this point, but try to hide upwind of the dog so that the scent cone is there.

      2) Switch so that YOU are handling the dog and someone else the dog knows is doing the hiding. The person hiding has the toy and praises the dog until you get there. Once you are there, you take over praising and playing with the dog. Gradually make the distance longer and the hiding spot a bit more difficult, but don’t try to go too fast. You want the dog to “win” every time. The dog is still watching the person hide at this point. Vary the person doing the hiding so that the dog starts to learn that he is not looking for a specific person. (You can also train to locate a specific scent using a scent article from the person, but that gets more complicated.) as the dog catches on, start having people the dog does NOT know do the hiding.

      3) Once the dog is eagerly running after the person, begin having the dog watch them run away, but then they go around a corner or something so that the dog cannot see where they are actually hiding. Now the dog is going to have to start making the transition from relying on his eyes to his nose. Be sure the person is hiding upwind so the dog can catch the scent. You can guide the dog to the general area that you want searched, but be very careful that you are not “solving” the problem for the dog. Let him work it out. Especially in the beginning, if he seems confused or is getting frustrated, the person hiding can make a noise, but you want to avoid this where possible. Again, be sure not to go too fast. These are still very short beginner exercises. Depending on the dog, this might take 3-4 sessions to get to this point or if might take weeks of work. Go at your dog’s pace.

      4) At this point, you can start teaching the dog that the REAL reward comes when YOU get to the person, not when he does. Have the person who is hiding praise the dog and then be still and unresponsive. As soon as YOU get to the person, praise lavishly and play. Now the dog should really be catching onto the game and finding it the most fun, exciting activity you do with him.

      5) Now you and your dog should be ready to really change the picture. Have the person hide while the dog is NOT able to see him leave. Make the hiding spot an easy one to start with since you have made it much more difficult for the dog when he can’t see the person leave. He is going to have to rely primarily on his nose now.) Give him a few minutes to hide and let the scent cone develop. Now take your dog to wherever you are going to start him. Be sure it is downwind of the “victim.” Go through the same excited buildup that you have been doing. “Someone is lost! He needs help! Are you ready?” It can also help if you have used special equipment such as a vest that the dog associates with this exciting new game. When the dog is straining to go, release him with your Find command. (When holding the dog, hold him around the chest, not using a leash. You don’t want him to be corrected for his eagerness to get to work.) As always, praise and play when he reaches the person.

      6) Gradually increase the distance and area in which the person may be hiding. As you progress to more difficult problems, it can help if you do not know where the person is hiding (other than the general area to be searched) so you cannot inadvertently help your dog cheat.

      7) The next step is often the hardest and is beyond the scope of this post: to teach the Refind. After finding the person, the dog keeps going between you to lead you to the person. The game is not over until YOU find the person. Depending on how far your dog ranges while searching, this might take a while. My SAR dog ranged far ahead of me and I am not fast, so he still had a lot of work to do after he found the person. Other SAR dogs I know worked pretty close to their handler so it was not hard for them to get the handler to the victim.

      There is so much more to search work than just this, so if you are truly interested, the best way to proceed is to hook up with a qualified search group that conducts regular training sessions. I found training the dog to be the easiest part (it helped that my dog was a natural and picked up the game almost immediately). Learning the navigation, communication, scent behavior, first aid (both human and canine), incident management, and all the other skills necessary to be an effective SAR team member took a lot longer. Agility training is also extremely useful (and imperative if you get into disaster search work), but the emphasis is on control and carefulness rather than speed.

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