Thursday, November 3, 2011

Drills for skills aka brain training

Drills, drills, drills - athletes do 'em, soldier's do 'em, emergency teams do 'em, kids in school learning math do 'em too. And as a freshman barn-crew dog-handler, I've learned that yes, barn dogs need to do 'em too.

It's fun working with the pooches on new skills, watching them learn how to do nose work, touch, shaping, flirt pole work, walking a treadmill - the list goes on. But I've learned that unless the barn dogs keep practicing those basics so that they react without a second thought, they get - well rusty, even a bit sloppy. Yes, it's true. So, along with the fun stuff, its time for the barn pooches to get back to regular basics drills.

Exiting a door? Sit-stay, look, down-stay
Entering a door?
Sit-stay, look, down-stay
Want a toy? Sit-stay, look, down-stay
Ready to play?
Sit-stay, look, down-stay
Going for a walk?
Sit-stay, look, down-stay
Ready for dinner? Sit-stay, look, down-stay etc. etc. etc.

Repetition, repetition, repetition.
The drills are brain training so that eventually, no matter what distraction presents itself, the dogs automatically react to commands without even thinking. All part of the work to prepare the pooches for life with a forever family.

Here they are practicing down-stay. First up, the visiting Teddles.

Great form Teddles - your mom's done a great job with you!

And now sweet Jondi.

OK - a bit sloppy there Jondi.
All the way down please.
Try it again.

Ahhh, nice looooong down-stay.
Much better!

And finally, our other resident red-head Star; learns new things in a snap, but loooong down-stays are her Achilles heel.

Stay Star......stay!
Well done.

Staying down IS tough but keep working on it, and you'll find it easier and easier.


  1. Which reminds me, someone at my house could use a little more drilling beyond the sit-stay-look before dinner is served. Thanks for working on making the barn residents good dogs and the rest of us good owners!

  2. So perfect! I was just thinking today on our walk I need the basics again, and always. The "watch" especially - my girl is leash reactive and she's made progress but we got a long way to go. Thanks for the "kick in the butt" - I needed it!

  3. I so needed this! We have our food-time drills and treat ball drills but I forget all the other things to keep them focused! We started up again and what a difference! Thank you!

  4. Spot521 - it was a wake up call for me too since own girl recently tried out for her CGC and flunked the loose leash heeling which I thought she had mastered (she passed all of the tougher stuff). So we've gone back to the heeling drills. Practice, practice, practice. (We'll be trying out for CGC again very soon)


Thanks for your comments, questions and feedback!