Some Thoughts On Training
I found this in a collection of my old text files. I'm sure it was written in 1992, because of my references to Corey. At that time, Corey was my 9 month old dog.
Many years ago, I had intended to write a book about dog training and tables, and actually had a friend in Memphis who was involved in publishing. He was very interested in working with me, and encouraged me to keep writing. I never really got moving on it. I really don't think I'm destined to be be an author.
Below is a small part of what I wrote.
This was written just before my third table trip to Gene England's, to learn more about table training. My memory and recall is exceptional.
|Before you read this page, I'd like you to seriously consider
something. I'm going to write about dogs that bite - dogs that will
actually engage a human, and fight. They may (by your
interpretation) protect you and your family
or property from harm or crime. Try, if you will, to think of
a worst-case scenario, where the dog must really, truly fight
with a human.
Consider for a moment what would happen if the dog really bites someone. Would the person (quite likely a criminal) do everything in his power to get the dog off him? Punch, kick, or choke the dog, and possibly worse? Beat the dog with anything available to get the dog off? Would he try to kill the dog? I feel that's worth a moment of reflection.
|This is a book about some
aspects of Tabletop Training. Much of Tabletop is old, and some of
Tabletop is new. It's a different, but similar, perspective.
Actually, it's a lot of things.
You've probably never read a book like this one before, and you might never read another one like it again. I don't know the first thing about how to write properly, but I do have a lot of things to say. You can be sure as you keep reading you're going to see some really strange and unusual things. Forgive my wandering, excuse my explanations and descriptions, and be patient. Your patience will be rewarded. Sooner or later I'll get to the point(s) and maybe then the trip will have been worthwhile.
First of all, let's get the legal warning part out of the way.
WARNING - WARNING - WARNING
|To anyone interested in
implementing Tabletop Training, may I suggest spending time with someone
with considerable experience in the use of tables. Please do this before building your own tables plus a 1000 sq. ft. training room to put
them in. <really!> This book is a start, but it's only a start.
There's much more to table training than a book and a few videos.
To the best of my knowledge, Tabletop Training is a style of training that is not associated with, not approved by, and not endorsed by ANY group or organization in the world of dogs. This includes, but is not limited to, DVG, USPCA, Schutzhund USA, SV, KNPV, American Ring Federation, AKC, or the Waggin' Butts Training Club of Flea Free, Florida. All this legal stuff is fun! And now you've been warned!
|The only people I know of who
endorse Tabletop Training are the people who know it, understand it,
and, most of all, are successful with it. I'm one of those
people, as are Gene England, Mike Rankin, Thom Payne, Tom Rose, Tom Brown, and maybe a few dozen others. All in all, not
WHEN IMPLEMENTED CORRECTLY:
Tabletop Training is safe, sane, and intelligent. It's logical and effective. Bottom line: IT WORKS.
And that also holds true for many other kinds of training methods and/or training tools.
But Tabletop Training has been called cruel, harsh, and inhumane. And that's not all - it's just the beginning! I've heard "table stories" from one end of the U.S. to the other .... Here are a few choice quotes from the "folks who know":
"I'll never put my dog on a table."
"That table stuff either "makes 'em or breaks 'em"."
"Dogs die on the tables."
"Electric shock is very often used to correct the problems caused by tables."
"They're forced to bite on the tables."
"Tables make the dog too aggressive."
"I'm not gonna hang a dog by his throat to make him bite."
"What do you need tables for if you really know how to train?"
First, I'll Really Ramble A Little .... And Give Credit Where Credit Is Due
(don't read this if you're in a rush)
I'd like to invite you to come with me. I don't invite just anybody - so you're special. We're going on a trip, together.
I think you'll remember this trip for a long time.
We're leaving Tampa. It's 5am, and that means we'll be driving all day and part of the evening before we get to see Bowling Green, Kentucky. 750 miles. I-75 North. We'll go through all of Florida, up through Atlanta, and just keep on going north to Chattanooga. Then we'll take I-24 towards Nashville, and I-65 North into Kentucky - exit 22. The mountains and the scenery and the rest areas are all beautiful, but, pardon my sarcastic yawn, they're just steps along the way.
there's an Interstate highway somewhere that can keep your interest, I damn
sure haven't seen it yet. If we were into being tourists, we'd have
our cameras out, right? That part of the highway in the mountains by
Chattanooga where the road climbs, curves, then drops away at about a 45
degree grade? Yeah, I damn sure DO pay some attention there! We
want to live through this trip - we're gonna survive! It's a pretty simple drive starting
out early like that.
Always Booker T. & the MGs on the tape player, too: Hip Hug Her - the studio cut AND the live one from London. What a great song to get you rolling down the road at 80 and smiling - even if there ARE 710 miles left to go! SERIOUSLY - if you're into dogs and training, get ahold of some Booker T. Try the "Back to Back" live CD with the Mar Keys. Goes great with table training and bitework!
Corey's with us on this trip, he's my German Shepherd dog, he's about 9 months old, and I've had him about 3 weeks now. We're headed to Bowling Green to see Gene England and learn more about Tabletop Training.
For those of you who know Gene, I don't need to say much more. For those that don't - let me say this: Gene is, without any question, one of the very best trainers in the world. He thinks, he reasons, he tries, he experiments, and most of all, he solves problems. He comes up with answers when there are none. He does what others don't do, won't do, or even try to do. He does what others can't do.
He must be part dog himself -
a large part. He understands and feels dogs so well it's awesome.
My respect for Gene began in 1983 and continues to this day. He's one
of the few trainers that has ever given me reason to respect him. I've made many, many trips to Bowling Green over the
years, and always learned more than I planned from Gene. I even
learned to appreciate the powerful effects of "GE Specials" - Evan Williams
whiskey and Mello Yello.
Equal quantities. With or without ice. Hangovers about the size
of Memphis. Two, or maybe three of everything in sight!
Guilt all over your face at 7:59am as you roll into Gene's driveway for a 7
o'clock training class.
Believe it - GE Specials will kick your butt every time!
Well, I discovered that on the first trip - and that's why you're along with me now.
I'm Steve Leigh. Who Am I?
(don't read this if you're in a rush)
|Let me tell you a little about myself, about my own commitment. You'll
get to know me - right here, right now. This is straight from the
shoulder - not a bunch of bullshit suggested or required by a book publisher or
editor. I'm sitting here writing what I want to write, and this book
says what I believe. Maybe you identify with me, maybe you like what I
have to say, or maybe not. It's OK - I'm writing it anyway.
I take dog training absolutely seriously, and I want to do good work. I have a lot of pride, and plenty of ego. Because of my desire to "do good" by the dogs, I've set some definite guidelines for myself. I'm not in it strictly "for the bucks", even though money is a part of working. It's become a way of life - I can't even imagine having a "job" other than training dogs.
This is what I feel I have to do. I learned to do this work the right way, and for this, I am truly grateful to several superb trainers. I owe tremendous gratitude to some fine people whose ideas and techniques I've learned, stolen, and believe in.
In bitework, as a helper -
I'm always the loser. This is why the dog is always a winner.
FRAME OF MIND - DO YOU BELIEVE? DO YOU BELIEVE?
For me, FRAME OF MIND is everything. The dog's, ours, it's all Frame Of Mind.
When you know Frame Of Mind, then you use it, you feel it, and you believe
It's CONFIDENCE. James Brown asked John Belushi, "Do You Believe?" POWER - pure, raw POWER.
Let's talk about Frame Of Mind - in fact, if you
can stop laughing long enough, let's GET some:
FRAME OF MIND: MOTIVATION and COMPULSION
Motivation, compulsion - the
words change periodically, people expound on the ramifications of
pleasant vs. unpleasant, new "inventions" come along to fit the new words.
It seems to never end. In the 90's, we've been collectively
"motivated" to death by all the books, videos, seminars, and emotional
thresholds of trainers throughout the country. There are guys out
there preaching "motivation this, drive that."
Yet only pages away, he
illustrates various forms of "stachel-halsband", or spiked prong collars,
and mentions not once, but many, many times in his book, the use of a
slingshot and pebbles for longer distances, throw chains, chain collars with
odd shaped, spiked balls on them, flat leather collars with nails built in
.... items reminiscent of methods we no longer need, use, or want for our
dogs. This was about SEVENTY YEARS AGO.
Step 1 is probably the most difficult, since very often, the dog isn't
particularly interested in WHAT you want him to learn. He's interested in
that bush, or that Dobe, or those hot dogs in your belly bag. (Have
you been here before? I have!) So - is it time for a correction yet, or is training over for the day? I'll scatter a few
thoughts around, and try to tie them together in a moment.
In hopes of making myself clear - I can sum it up by saying - YES - I truly believe in force, and YES - I truly believe in motivation. I also believe in being patient. I have absolute confidence in the way I teach. I'm positive that the dog will learn from me, and we will make progress together.
That's part of Frame of Mind, too.
CONTROLLING THE OPTIONS
That's partially what Tabletop Training is .... controlling options. A new/old approach to an old situation. In training, we generally have a clear picture of what we want from the dog. On the other hand, the dog has virtually no idea what we require. This presents us with the problem of developing various methods (or exercises) in order to make what we require 100% CLEAR to the dog.
example, in our work here, we constantly catch ourselves asking the dog,
"Was ist platz? (What is down?)" or "Was ist steh? (What is stand?)"
Silly questions - however they cover the exact situation: from the
perspective of TEACHING the dog, what IS down, anyway? If we can make
it perfectly clear, and show the dog that this behavior creates reward,
we've taught him, and he's ours.
Now, with tables, we've become much more structured, and have a clearer picture of what the dogs can and will do - long BEFORE they do it. Also, since the tables limit options, the dogs choose the correct response in a shorter time frame. This clarifies exactly what the dog needs to understand, and doesn't create the time for confusion on his part. We put the dog in a position where making the right choice is almost automatic. And, in this position, there are a limited number of mistakes possible.
Are tables a shortcut? Definitely not! Training for reliability takes time, and plenty of it. We can think of table work as being additional steps, compared to other training styles. What we've done with the tables in a few years has proven without question that the learning/teaching capacities of dogs and their handlers is far more precise than we ever believed.
If you think this over, the
dog's behaviors are almost all understandable and predictable. This
applies equally to virtually all dogs - yours, mine, all dogs. By
reading and understanding the dog, and constantly adjusting your awareness of him, based on the 4 options available, there will be very few
occasions when the dog's behavior causes you to say, "Why did he do that?"
For example, walking on a leash, loose line, no corrections, no commands to follow, is still a stress situation, since the dog cannot freely make all choices while leashed, and he is well aware of this, although he may readily accept the situation, and show no outward signs of stress. This example indicates very mild mental stress, and no physical stress at all. Put another way, any situation in which the dog is not 100% in control, and is being controlled or influenced, can be a mild stress situation.
Now imagine the attraction of scent, a cat for example, the dog lunges to investigate, the collar tightens, and a leash correction occurs automatically. Stimulation has been applied to the dog, causing mild mental and physical stress, in order to regain control of his behavior. Once you begin to consider if the dog is in a stress situation, you will begin to recognize for yourself how the dog unloads the stress - which option he chooses. Careful, objective observation can show you hundreds of stress situations throughout the course of one day. Consider, too, I am referring to mild stress, stress the dog can easily and immediately cope with. "Subtle" stress might be the correct way to describe it. Possibly a better word would be "environmental stress".
Each of the above has a range
|Now, we'll shift gears. This book is written about tables, and tables encompass obedience and protection, in several different areas. Let's spend a few minutes thinking about protection training. The following paragraphs may be worth reading twice. In fact, they might really shock you.|
|FIGHTING A HUMAN IS UNNATURAL FOR A DOG|
Instinctively, the dog does not challenge or attack animals larger than himself. There are exceptions which might include pack hunting, where 2 or more dogs might hunt a larger animal, herding, in which the dog has been conditioned to challenge and dominate a herd of large animals, or possibly a threatening situation where the dog has virtually no other options, and chooses to fight. But typically, the dog will avoid combat with humans.
I base this on the fact that human - the tall, vertical animal - has physically dominated the dog ever since birth.
To the young pup, the imprint
is clear - vertical animals can pick me up, control me, make me helpless.
My struggles are useless, they overpower me. Most puppies learn to
submit to humans at a young age.
And the intimidation continues. Humans make the decision to sell the puppies. At this point, everything familiar to the puppy is removed. Imagine yourself being forced at a very young and insecure age to go live in a foreign land - everything is new and strange, everything you've always known is gone. All your previous safety and security has been removed. And it doesn't stop ....
Average "new puppy owners" bring the puppy home, and EXPECT him to play with the children, perform his cute puppy behaviors for their amusement.
It's a rare puppy buyer that will bring a puppy home, and LEAVE HIM ALONE, giving him time to stabilize, adjust, and acclimate to this new environment he's been forced into. It's a rare puppy buyer that can see this new world through the eyes of the puppy, and recognize this must be the worst day of the puppy's life.
I've seen this myself - several times. Screaming, excited children all want to hug and love the new puppy, they want him to run and play, they're thrilled with their new, fluffy family member. The kids pick him up by his front legs, hug and squeeze him - they have yet to learn how to handle a puppy, they simply don't know right from wrong yet. From the puppy's point of view, I believe it's trauma. A nightmare. Soon, more power, dominance and control begin.
Inevitably, on the first day, the puppy will urinate or defecate in the house. How many new puppy owners will tolerate - and even expect - that? The puppy will very likely be punished for his mistake. The power and dominance is so obvious, it's like a 400 foot wide flashing neon sign!
Introducing him to the leash and collar typically results in some struggling and resistance. Inspecting ears, mouth, or belly usually brings about some struggling. Even trimming toenails is a display of power. Early trips to a vet's office, up on the table, touch, probe, examine - frequently produce the same results in the young dog's mind: resisting is useless - humans have power.
something from the puppy's mouth - sneakers, carpet, pillow, etc.
encompasses the same imprint: "human equals power". It should go
without saying that any form of discipline or correction imprints power over
It's possible we've taken the "tough" out of the dogs even before they lose their baby teeth though, isn't it?
A BUCKET FULL OF PEBBLES
I think of "training" as being no more or less than BUILDING HABITS in the dog. As we repeat certain exercises, habits are being formed and reinforced. The various acts which we call training are, in a manner of thinking, "pebbles in the pail".
Picture, if you will, an empty 5 gallon pail. No weight, no substance. It would blow away in a strong wind. Begin training - any task will do for this example - and we're dropping small, light "pebbles" in the pail with each and every repetition. Once or twice repeated behaviors are relatively insignificant, but many, many repetitions ultimately add up. After a day, week, or month of repetition in a specific task, the behavior becomes stronger - a habit has been created and reinforced. After many hundreds, possibly thousands, of repetitions, that pail is unmovable - without a forklift! Now we have substance in habit - the repetitions have created certain repeatable, reliable behaviors in the dog. Please continue ....
Consider too, the pails which are undesirable - behaviors such as handler consciousness, avoidance behaviors, rebites, or others which we prefer to untrain. As the pebbles go into the pails the habits are reinforced. Through thoughtful training, we can empty one pail and replace undesirable habits with correct habits.
WE ALL PLAY BY THE RULES
NEVER reward an unwanted behavior. Reward desirable behaviors.
Whatever is pleasant for the handler, must be
pleasant for the dog.
But don't mix up "play fight" behaviors with genuine fight behaviors. The basis exists in many young dogs, and at this point it is important to get the pebbles into the pail.
Channeling, or directing
these natural behaviors thru careful and consistent training, can produce
dogs which have pretty substantial "pails" (experience) by the age of
Let's consider this example: a very young dog, just learning to bite burlap.
If we train this dog on the grass, tied to his handler with a leash, we have the potential for a lot of rebites, mouthing, and a weak grip. That's not a rule, but the potential exists. If we train the same dog on the round table, we can quickly and easily teach him to commit to one grip, and maintain that grip throughout the duration of the fight. The mechanics of the table allow us to to circumvent several bad habits before they ever become bad habits. The table also allows us to bypass most of the problems which the inexperienced handler or helper might bring into training.
THE CHANGE TO TABLES
|In 1991, I entered a time to put the old ways behind, and seriously consider something new. Tables - the actual, physical tables themselves - are only one part of Tabletop Training. Another part is how we do what we do with the tables, as well as what we do off the tables. For some - which includes me - it's a new process of thinking combined with some new equipment to work with. If you've been training for awhile, you probably understand what I'm trying to say. So many of us have gone through "stages" with the dogs. We've tried this and tried that, some things worked, others didn't.|
|THREE TABLES CONTROL THE OPTIONS|
In Tabletop Training, we use
three different tables - they each serve entirely different purposes.
Following is a brief description of each.
Another excellent use of the
long table is the stabilization of dog fighters. The long table can
provide a powerful level of intimidating force, and do it instantaneously, which is particularly useful for serious dog fighting
problems. With 2 handlers, the training sessions are completely
controlled, and dangerous accidents are nearly impossible. Compared to
using muzzles and working on the ground, the results on the table can be far
superior, and infinitely safer for the dogs and the handlers.
Under some circumstances, foot shackles are also used, along with the collar, which essentially immobilizes the dog. This scenario applies very well to dogs with major social and/or fear biting problems. Antisocial, insecure, or overly defensive dogs can be safely placed on the square table, and preliminary training can be accomplished in a totally controlled environment, while maintaining complete safety for the dog, handler, trainer, and assistants.
Tables are training tools. That's really all they are. But they're unique tools, in that very few other training tools control the options available to the dog like the tables can. Tables are like a microscope. They are an environment - a place where everything done in training is intensified, focused, and clarified - for the dog, helper, and handler.
|TRAINING OUTS - WITH NO CORRECTIONS|
At this point, I'd like to
discuss some very specific aspects of Tabletop Training, particularly,
teaching the out or "aus".
The dogs that will NOT out are the best challenge of all.
ALL biters, ANY breed, confident, hacklers, any
situation: strong handler, weak handler, even no handler. In
that case, I just do it myself. I'll explain in a later chapter why
that works fine for me.
A wide leather buckle collar is used on
this table. No other collars or hardware. No chain collar, no
prong, no electric, no harness, and no leash.
F L I G H T - F I G H T - A V O I D A N C E - S U B M I S S I O N
and who can make and break eye contact when/as needed, has the "moves", knows when and how to load (create suspicion) and unload (remove suspicion) the dog, and isn't "running on ego" (the "I can break any dog" type). The helper must also be aware of the 4 different levels of suspicion, as follows:
(4) A hiding place. The helper
must be able
to go out of the dog's line of sight when needed.
We're about to do something
called "TOTO" and it's a nice, simple little exercise which leads to
many more useful things in the future. "TOTO" stands for "turn on-turn
off". It's also something we'll come back to every once in awhile, just to keep the dog tuned up. We'll begin ...........
In other words, we're gonna
let the dog tell us when he knows the "fight" is over, OK? Take
your time, relax, and let the dog benefit from this learning experience. This applies to
dog - SchHIII workhorses, puppies, police K9s, or your own personal
protection dog. All we're trying to do with TOTO is help define for
the dog when it's time to fight, and when it's not time to fight.
That's all - so relax, and let's just do that one thing, and nothing
LET THE DOG MAKE A DISCOVERY
If this takes 2 minutes or 25 minutes, it's OK, we've got all day. You're PERSISTENT and CONSISTENT, remember? Now we're cookin'! Is he settled down? Great, then praise him for it, will ya? Helper, can you get in here closer to the dog? Keep smilin', pardner! Good!
Now helper, squat down right in front of the dog. That's right, I want him to see a 2 foot tall helper with a big grin on his face. But remember, he's got to be calm about this. In fact, we've all got to be calm.
Many, many times, I've just
pulled up a lawn chair, sat down, and waited for the dog to discover that
I'm not here to fight. You can go ahead and praise him a little too. Clap your
hands, tell him whatever his handler's telling him .... "good
boy!", "so ist
brav", whatever. Is he calm? If he
then we're winnin', folks! "A pebble in the pail", as we say!
Handler, if you can
tell the difference when the helper comes out to fight or comes out
peacefully, then help your dog tell the difference, too. And RELAX,
we're doing just fine. The critical part of this exercise is that the
dog turns off when the fight ends. Once things get rolling, use the
commands "pass auf" and "aus" or whatever flavor you prefer, relative to the helper's behavior. Now relax and drink a beer for
me. Relaxing is a BIG part of table training! Relaxing is also a
big part of Frame Of Mind. The clearer you are in your mind, the
easier this work becomes.
Now it's about time to "raise the stakes" or the attraction level.
Using exactly the same procedures as above (they're working, so don't change them!) let's get the dog to turn off while the helper is in closer proximity. Gradually increase defense (suspicion) - (actually, it's called fight) as you see fit for the particular dog .... get the helper crackin' that whip, firing the gun, making a bigger threat, whatever. Just increase the attraction - GRADUALLY. Turn the dog on faster too. Helper, stand about 3-4 feet from the dog, as soon as that handler says "pass auf", make it "come true" instantly. Quick responses, guy! This, too, is critical. The dog is NEVER lied to. Lying will only create confusion.
There are a lot of "pebbles in the pail" by now, time for a bite. Relax. It's
the same as no bite. Well, almost....
approach, present bite, move in flight, (to the right if the sleeve's on
your left arm), show the side of your body towards dog, and no frontal.
What? What's frontal? Frontal is when you show the dog the front of your
body, man! You're bigger, wider, more threatening when you face the
dog. So turn your body sideways, and let the dog see a "skinny"
helper, OK? OK!!
Is the dog in a down? He ought to be, or pretty close, if you're down where you're supposed to be. Keep that arm loose and relaxed, don't make any fight, but don't let him drag you across the table, either. Keep your face out of range, get on your knees or sit on your butt, and make yourself comfortable. Handler, COOL IT, and get over here by your dog. DON'T tell him "aus" yet, just relax and watch the show. Help him get calm, that's your job. Helper, can you stroke this dog? If so, pet him - unless you've got an alligator up there.
Anybody got a watch? Let's see how long it takes for the dog to realize that the helper isn't fighting anymore. Oooh, Lordy, Lordy! Is he still thrashing around? Watch his mouth carefully, and you'll see him start "jawin'" .... there's the signal. That's it - he's getting ready to let go. Handler, give up some praise and NOW tell him "aus". Maybe you have to say it a few times, maybe even ten times, but what'd I tell you before? We've got all day, so cool it.
LET THE DOG MAKE A DISCOVERY
He's out? Well where's the praise? Helper! Leave the sleeve or burlap on the table, and praise the dog, too. Anybody else nearby? Try some "pack support".... Y'ALL praise him! (Would you look at that tail wag? This lil' guy's havin' FUN!)
Repeat, repeat, repeat.
We're putting a LOT of pebbles in the pail now, and having a good time, too!
Except for maybe the helper who's going to the chiropractor. Let's buy
him a beer, he really earned it. (What? He's already gone? Hell,
I'll drink it!)
It's really pretty simple, isn't it? Nothing we've done so far inhibits the dog in any way. What we're doing is totally in harmony with the dog, utilizing his own natural responses to build our foundation in training.
WE'RE LETTING THE DOG MAKE DISCOVERIES
Please keep in mind, too, that the dog's ability to calm to the helper and the fight is NOT necessarily the ultimate picture. This is just A STEP IN THE PATH towards building calm, consistent fights and outs.
You're going to
have to trust me a
little, and follow this training through to learn how we'll build a much
stronger fight. In the meantime - you want outs? You'll get them
- without any force.
We're moving towards helper locks up the sleeve, dog outs correctly. By the way: police dogs? Helper! Keep your hands OFF those dogs (typically). Only the handler touches the dog. This, too, is another subject for another chapter. Young dogs, sport dogs, and especially insecure dogs? By all means, why shouldn't the helper add some praise at this stage, too? Builds confidence, makes the dog a little stronger. This might be a good time to stabilize the dog to the stick or whip as well, if it hasn't been done already.
Helper, stroke him
with it, make praise with it. Get his confidence high until he
ignores it. We're "out", remember? Get down in a crouch, and scratch
his chest with it. He's sure to follow you anywhere! How about
buying him a beer? <VBG>
And keep something in your mind, too. We WANT the dog to MAKE DISCOVERIES for himself.
If enough work went into the last sessions, the dog is probably
not making many mistakes right now. Just keep those pebbles going into
the pail. Don't cut corners, just RELAX .... the dog's having fun,
we're having fun, and we're indoors. Where's the beer? Not much heat and humidity, no
snow, ice, or sleet, and our helper's shoulders are feeling fine.
I don't like to teach
"automatic" outs. I can train this way, but choose not to. To
keep from having the dog out prematurely, I keep some fight in the sleeve
even though I'm "locked up" or frozen at the end of a fight. The dogs
learn quickly that maybe the fight isn't really over, and will sustain a
full, hard grip almost indefinitely. What I'm describing are small,
tiny "twitches" of the arm - just enough to keep the dog aware that "it ain't dead yet!" Occasionally, I'll just take off and make some more
real fight from the "locked up" position, and sometimes it'll just be a
straight out. The dog never knows, the handler never knows, and
usually I don't know, either! It's only done to teach the dog to stay
in there and maintain the bite until the "aus" command. As a side
note, most of the dogs I've trained will stand still at the end
of the fight, with just as much power in the bite, no mouthing, no
thrashing, no insecurity. Just a very, very deep mouth, and power you
have to feel to believe. (This is why I constantly use softer sleeves.
I need to feel the bite pressure at all times to make correct decisions.)
At this point, the outs are pretty well in place, and we can look forward to building them some more outside, on the grass, and in other locations. A few more pertinent points:
This pretty well covers outing. Each step equals pebbles in the pail. Lots of patience, good Frame of Mind, a decent helper, and plenty of beer. We're only a few steps away from more demanding and difficult outs, and using this foundation, there's no problem getting there. Does the table seem like a productive place yet? With your open mind, and plenty of time, I'll explain why table training might be better than any other way of doing certain things.
Now, let me show you graphically what the next step is:
|WAIT JUST A MINUTE|
I've been pretty serious here
for at least a few pages, so let's relax a little. Pop open a beer,
and read this. Here's a story - every word is the gospel truth!
At that very moment, a lady, probably about 40 years old, appeared, yelling and hollering about "animal cruelty" and how she's had German Shepherds for 25 years, and her father raised Shepherds, and her mother has a Shepherd, and how could I possibly treat a dog this way, and don't I know that dogs will turn on you if you do that ..... on and on and on.
She was pointing her finger, waving it in my face .... this crazy lady was on a roll, man! She was rockin'!
Pretty soon, Jim charged out of the bushes running,
Corey took off on "Packen", and a fight was in progress. Jim froze, I
outed Corey, and transported my "prisoner" back towards the van, Corey at
"fuss" (heel). I downed him about 100' from the pavement, on the
She tried to get the key into the door, and in her excitement, she broke it off in the lock. Then, she ran around to the passenger's side, started fighting with that door, but it was locked, too. She was moaning, groaning, and talking a mile a minute - "Please, Officer, don't let that dog anywhere near me. Please! Oh, please, don't come any closer, please keep him away!".
Jim and I just stood there in
total amazement - absolutely flabbergasted! Corey was in a down,
minding his own business, at least 100 feet - probably twice that - away from the lady, and she was
acting like an escapee from a mental ward! We couldn't get a word in
there edgewise if we tried! There was no talking to this one,
y'all! Xanax is not just for breakfast anymore.
I left after a few more bites, and Jim was stuck
listening to her. He filled me in on the details the next day.
|HOLD AND BARK - AND STILL NO CORRECTIONS|
We've done a lot of work so
far. Our dogs are outing pretty consistently, and we don't have to
correct "delayed" outs very often. Pebbles are going in the pail by
the handful - and that's something to be proud of! Give your dog
some "loben" (praise) 'cause he's earned it. And might as well buy the
helper a beer, too .... he's earned it!
This may - and typically does - include
barking, depending entirely on what you want. (There are some agencies which
require silence from the dog, for example SEK in Germany.) However,
the key here is that the dog can bite, but doesn't. He waits
for the helper to flight, attack, or for the handler to tell him to bite.
F L I G H T - F I G H T - A V O I D A N C E - S U B M I S S I O N
and who can make and break eye contact when/as needed, has the "moves", knows when and how to load (create suspicion) and unload (remove suspicion) the dog, and isn't "running on ego" (the "I can break any dog" type).
Let's get to work. (Who's going for the beer?) Since the chain is longer, the dog can actually step off the table. We can stabilize him to this by attraction.
Handler, go to your dog and praise him, walk around the table a little and give the dog the opportunity to step off the table. Don't call him off the table, just present the opportunity.
If he goes off, that's OK - he can step back up without any help. Pretend it never happened. Actually, I'd like to see a few repetitions of this - the dog steps off the table, and decides on his own to get back on the table. And let's be cool about this - the table is only 19.5" high.
LET THE DOG MAKE A DISCOVERY
Now, handler, sit down on the table, facing the direction your helper will be coming from. Turn your dog on - "pass auf!"
Helper! C'mon out with some threat. The dog should be barking his ass off about now .... Helper, come closer .... a drop closer. We're talking inches here, not yards! The dog should be barking and staring right into the helper's eyes. He shouldn't be barking at the sleeve. If he's focused on the sleeve, read the chapter dealing with intensity. We don't want a sleeve freak - we want the dog actively seeking fight with the man, not the equipment. (What? You didn't find the chapter on intensity? That's cause I haven't written it yet! Sure I have - it's located below.)
Handler, you ought to be telling your dog, "Good pass auf! Fein ist pass auf!", and using the command words in your praise. Helper, make a slight move similar to "popping" the sleeve into position for the bite .... POW!
The dog stepped off the table? He can't levitate! Of course not ....
Handler! Fast - get your dog right back up here - quick, quick, QUICK - then get your hands off him, and instantly tell him "pass auf!" again. Helper! Hiss, crack that whip, whatever, just get this dog instantly tuned into you again. Try and get him to step off again. Don't wait for anything - do your work as if the dog never went off the table. Act like it never happened. We want the dog to learn something here - we want him to learn to WAIT.
Let's get in a drop closer now .... Barking? Full of fire? OK - Helper, pay attention - give him a bite but DON'T PULL! Whatever you do, don't yank him off the table, or pull the sleeve out of his mouth! Helper, I will strangle you if you do. Step right into his area, knees touching the table, move a little, and slip the sleeve. Y'all PRAISE the dog! We're not working on outs right now! We're working on Hold/Bark, OK?
Repeat this - and then repeat it some more. Helper! DON'T go too fast, but let the dog make a few mistakes and step off the table if he wants to. You can easily get him to go off the table by increasing your attraction. It all depends on how you move.
If you want to learn some really good moves, just call Gene in Kentucky. He's got a great videotape in which he pretends he's a dancer - it's called "Gene England's Moves - Kentucky Disco!". [This is a joke, y'all.]
Meanwhile, helper, just be quick - and don't let him get those bad bites when he tries for them. You've got to move back a few inches so he can't connect when he's wrong. Handler! You and the helper need to coordinate at this point. The dog needs to hear "Packen!" (or whatever command you use for "bite him!"). So let's get together on this, and make sure that the dog is told to bite exactly before the bite is given. Sometimes, I help my handlers a little, and I tell the dog to "Packen!" just before I make the bite available to the dog. The handlers pick up on the timing pretty quickly, and then they take over. Also, while he's in the bite, praise him - again, with the command in the praise. "Gut Packen!" "Fein is Packen!" "Packen gut!"
Let the dog hear and learn
these important words, don't just stand there drinkin' beer! And if you've got one, why haven't you offered
me one yet? <VBG>
Sheeeeiiit! Is that Mike Rankin over there? How about a beer,
Yes, we will make some progress today. You can bet your TriTronics on that. Plus, we'll all have a good time, drink some beer, and we'll have a lot more "pebbles in the pail". Don't even try to accomplish too much in any training session - you'll probably become frustrated, and start reacting from your own frustration. Just relax, and let it wait for the next session, or the ones following. Keep your goals reasonable and attainable at all times.
If you don't ask for too much, you can't be disappointed with a little!
Helper! Handler! It's break time. C'mon in the office. You guys are doing great! Let's have a cold beer, and discuss all the little details of what we've done so far, what it means, and what our next plans are. If I wasn't such a macho badass, I'd hug both of you - that's how proud I am with your work.
In the following sessions, the helper will be able to move in closer and closer to the dog. Pretty soon, the sleeve will be just under the dog's chin, and the dog should be barking directly up into the helper's face, on a slack chain. He should be ignoring the sleeve entirely, and the helper's face probably has dog spit all over it. Who said being a helper is fun, anyway? The handler can correct bumping and/or dirty bites with a couple of fingers across the muzzle, and if you've done enough preliminary work, the corrections should be very few.
As Hold/Bark training progresses, the helper can increase the close proximity. Sometimes I call it "Tighten Up" (Thank you, Archie Bell and the Drells).
Helper! The dog is at
the edge of the table, barking his brains out .... if the sleeve is on your
left arm, take a small, tiny step to your right. If you're left-handed
(sleeve on right arm) just reverse this. You should be relatively
close to the dog, the dog should be able to contact the sleeve, but your
movement should be less than what is typical for a bite. The dog
should follow - and the helper should take another tiny step away from the
dog. The dog is now backing the helper down - he's making the helper
back away, and the helper is making no moves to actually commence fight.
I generally do this with my knees touching the edge of the table, to give
you an idea of how close I am to the dog. This should be done very
gradually - patience, remember? - and the dog should get a bite after
a few seconds of hold/bark. Gradually, the hold/bark can be
lengthened, and the bite can be given less frequently. In early
training, the bite is always given after a "clean" hold/bark.
Later in training, the dog can "back me" all the way around the table.
By then, I need to wash all the spit off my face.
|THE BEGINNING OF INTENSITY - WHY IS HE BITING?|
For a moment, let's concern
ourselves with something which should be very simple. WHY does the dog bite at all?
|I WANT TO KNOW WHY IS HE BITING?|
- DEFENSE - FIGHT
The dog that bites from fight
behavior is completely sure of himself - he's
confident. This dog knows he can handle the fight, any fight,
and is more than willing to commit himself to it. If he could talk, I
bet he'd say, "Step right up, Bubba! I'm fittin' to put a hurtin' on your
ass!", and promptly do it.
PREY IS NOT THE WAY
Day in and day out I hear and read about "carrying" the sleeve. It's gone beyond a method - it's an absolute fixation with some people. Let's think about that a little.
People (mostly sport people) think that carrying "unloads" the stress of fighting for the dog.
Recently, I sat in Helmut Raiser's clubhouse in Germany, von Stephanitz Heim, he looked me directly in the eyes, and explained this entire method to me clearly. (As we talked, he asked me how I train. The instant I mentioned "round table", Helmut said, "Ah! You train with Gene England." It seems the word gets around.)
Maybe this is partially true, but why?
I feel the answer is clear: due to insensitive helpers, rushing things too fast - the dog is stressed in the fight. He escapes the confrontation - the helper - the person he's fighting with. So, in order to "carry", and "unload", the dog leaves the helper behind, and runs around for awhile with his "reward" - which is the sleeve - hanging out of his mouth.
While running, his handler is
praising and maybe stroking him, and certainly building a habit in the
dog. One good point in running is the dog can't "mouth"
the sleeve. It's a good point, but I think this is absurd.
Could the dog be stressed because his confidence in fighting is low, and he hasn't had enough experience (training) as a winner?
From what I've witnessed, hundreds of times, with my own eyes, the dog has been pushed too fast, and never had the opportunity to feel calm with fighting. No wonder the dog is stressed! He's never had the opportunity to stabilize and spend calm time with the helper - that's why he's "loaded" with stress.
If these same dogs had 2 weeks of TOTO on the round table,
in a consistent atmosphere, there would be no stress.
There would be nothing to "unload", and there would be no "mouthing", either.
Done enough times, the dog becomes a sleeve freak, and doesn't even remember that it's the helper - not the sleeve - that he needs to concern himself with. This is exactly the junction point where a lot of frantic, hectic dogs are created. Later in this book, I'll hook up why this particular "technique" causes more trouble than it's worth. It builds undesirable habits. Look under a section called "Problems". [note: I didn't get around to completing that section.]
But for now, let me say this: If I'm in New York, and I want to go to Miami, what's the sense in going through Los Angeles to get there? For most of us, it's just not sensible. (But if it's sensible for you, then you do it.)
If I do go that way, one thing's for sure - it will cost me. Hours, days, gas, hotels, phone, thousands of miles, maybe a few van repairs, who knows? All those extra miles will cost - in one way or another. And I bought into it myself - by not clearly thinking of the long term goals. Bitework can be a lot like that, too. A lot of times, stuff sort of "sneaks in", and comes along as a "bonus" when you don't expect it to.
|BALANCE OF STIMULATION - RAISING INTENSITY|
How about if we build a dog that isn't stressed in a fight? A dog that knows he can handle whatever comes in the fight? By now, if you've been reading, you might realize it's a lot easier than it seemed 15 pages ago.
The dog always wins.
The dog never loses. It's the law if you're a helper.
In his own way, the dog is like a book, and he most definitely can be read. He tells us things all the time, and in bitework, he's talking a mile a minute .... if you can just hear him.
I've got artwork on my wall which says, "Any dog can say more with his tail in seconds .... Than his handler can say with his tongue in hours." Where do you think I learned that from? Gene England.
(Thank you, Gene England, and no, you can't have it - it's staying on my wall.)
Here's the key: The drive to fight is brought on by
Use yourself as an example, and I think you'll agree: The drive
to fight is brought on by suspicion.
Do you have a 12 gauge in your
hands? Is your suspicion aroused
Now let's clarify that last one a little. I'm not talking about the
little "yip-yap" barks like a "throw the ball" bark, or a "when you come home
from the office" bark. I'm not talking about frantic, 300 barks
per minute. Nope - I'm talking about the kind of bark that
comes from down by his testicles somewhere. From way down
there. The kind of bark that says he's suspicious. I hope you
know what I mean. Discard any kind of bark which is happy, frantic, or
anything except suspicious.
Handler! Put your dog back in your vehicle until I want him in the training room. I don't want him to see a damn thing we're about to do. You come back in - but the dog stays out for now.
Helper! Handler! Grab a beer, c'mon over here, and listen to this ....
Today you're going to arouse some serious suspicion. And today, we're not gonna turn the dog off, which means the helper is not coming anywhere NEAR the dog. This is not TOTO - we'll go back to that soon, but our job today is to increase suspicion.
Here's today's plan. We're gonna do something really crazy. Look - I found this old bed sheet. Throw it over your head, helper, and we'll cut some holes in it so you can see. Here - wear this cowboy hat, too, so your head looks real strange. We'll tie a string lightly around your neck, so the sheet stays in place.
Damn! You look weird,
man. Walk out in the street like that, and you'll be
arrested in 3 minutes!
The rest of us are going to sit around, and we'll leave the dog alone - ignored - on the table. His handler is not with him, therefore no distraction, and no support. The shorter chain is used to further limit his range of motion. Since the dog has less area in which to move and function, his level of mental stress increases somewhat - exactly what we want for this exercise.
And this exercise is a
little different: no sleeve, no burlap, no bite
object at all. Just the dog and the helper, and maybe a whip.
This exercise is done without any bite equipment at all.
I know, I know - your whole family is suspicious of you - and probably with good reason. But that doesn't count right now. We have work to do.
OK - it's time to start the show. Handler! Quietly tell your dog "pass auf!" Helper! Scratch on the door ONCE, and sneak your eyes - JUST your eyes - around the corner. Is the dog focused on you? He sure is. He's staring at you, sniffing the air, his mouth is closed! He's trying to get your scent - this is great!
Helper! Stare right into his eyes, and think bad things in your mind - very bad things. Now try to make your eyes say those bad things to the dog. That's right - I'm telling you to speak with your eyes. He's never seen anything like this before. If he hasn't already done it, he's going to blow up. Immediately get back behind that door - FAST! When he shows suspicion, you flight, OK? Handler! Get over there and praise your dog - NOW - not later. 20-30 seconds of praise, then get away from the dog again.
Repeat. Repeat. OK - about 5 reps, and he's done. Handler! Take him off the table, and get him out of here for now. Put him in one of my empty kennels or something, then you get back in here.
Now listen to me. It's about 6pm. In about an hour it will be dark outside. We're going to repeat this - with all the lights out, in the dark. That dog is going to go absolutely berserk when we do this in a dark room! You just wait and see.
Also, you see that red light
switch on the wall? That's the one that turns on the police
lights. Did you notice them on the ceiling? Look - four
rotating flashers, and four strobes. We're gonna use them
tonight, too. This room is gonna be a madhouse, lights
flashing, stereo blasting, and the dog is going to react like a
nuclear bomb. Remember, we're not doing TOTO
right now. We're working on a different exercise.
In doing this, we create
habits in the dog. The dog learns very clearly and quickly that he
must show the behavior to fight,
with greater and greater intensity, or the fight will evaporate before him.
By repeating the "Turn On", the dog is learning to act on his suspicions,
and the helper is making those suspicions come true each time he fights
|READY FOR THE SQUARE TABLE? LIGHT THE FIRE|
We've got to determine if this is the right time for the dog to go on the square table.
If he's showing excellent nerves, calmness, and his confidence is really and truly high, I'd say yes. If there's some weakness in the dog, we've got to be able to read that, and hold off until he's ready for an increase in threat. His confidence has got to go up in such a way that he won't break down when some real threat is placed on his nervous system.
I wish I could be right there with you,
and see what the dog is "saying". Then I could make a suggestion I
could live with comfortably. But this is a book, and it's impossible
for me to tell the helper and handler exactly what to look for.
Because his range of motion was
limited somewhat. This caused a little more mental stress in the dog.
Now we're gonna really turn up the fire .... But keep some points in mind,
What? What did I just say? Insecurity? Exactly right!
But keep your eyes open, and watch where the insecurity goes! First it's here - then poof! - it's gone.
Handler, leave the dog, he's going to work alone for awhile. Get out of the way, and don't make eye contact with your dog right now. Helper! You ready?
This dog needs to be threatened - but you've got to be sensitive about it. At first, I want you to do this from all the way across the room, keep a lot of distance between you and the dog, but gradually, we'll get closer and closer. Now listen! Watch the dog carefully - you remember the old "flight-fight-avoidance-submission" lecture? Well, keep it in mind. You've got to go to the dog, and he's got to win, no matter what, otherwise we all lose, OK? So, you'll make eye contact, and reach towards the dog, make some threatening gestures, and watch carefully.
Think real hard about the intensity and strength he's previously shown us on the round table - you're gonna try to increase that right now. But you're not going to jump from, say, a 3 to a 12. Just watch carefully, and when he responds, get the hell out of there. I want to put the pebbles in the pail, but not a dumptruck full.
Run your butt behind that door over there, and cool it for a few seconds. When he's calmed down a little, (he won't calm down 100%), come on out and try to get exactly the same level of fight response again. Handler! Forget the "aus" for right now - we'll get to that later. Helper, don't change a thing, just come in about 6" closer than you were on the last go-'round. Repeat this about 3-4 times (first session on the square table) then end it. That's enough for one day.
If you overpower this dog, helper, I will choke you and beat you with the whip.
This will be repeated.
As the dog gets stronger and stronger, the helper will get closer.
At some point, he'll try to pinch the dog - on a paw, tail, or
flank. It's probably not necessary to actually touch
the dog at all - he should be going completely berserk on the square table,
trying to get at the helper. His behavior, eyes, and breathing
should tell the story - just look and see.
Am I close? You bet your ass I'm close. (I'm in Florida.)
He might have foam around his mouth - and I hope so! - his breathing is probably about four times as fast as normal (normal for the round table), his tongue is twice normal size, and his eyes are probably lit up like spotlights! But HE WON! Of course - he always wins!
And we have just raised his BEHAVIOR to FIGHT!
Some folks call this civil agitation, defense work, or popcorn. Whatever you like to call it, it simply comes down to one thing: the helper asks the dog "DO YOU WANT TO FIGHT?" He behaves in a way that creates suspicion, the dog reacts, and the helper loses. And, since training is no more or less than building habits, it follows that when the dog hears "pass auf!" that he'll learn to respond more and more powerfully. This "power", or development of fight behavior, is balanced out with calming work and TOTO.
This is called an "equalizer". It's a fancy name for a fancy tone control. When you listen to music, it allows you to boost up the bass, or reduce it. The same procedure applies for treble. You use it to balance the sound to what you want to hear.
It's not really that different from dog training, except training isn't done with sliders or a computer. You do exercises to make certain behaviors stronger or other behaviors less strong. You balance the dog, using specific exercises, until you accomplish the goals you've set. If you're thinking clearly, you can turn some behaviors "up" and turn some behaviors "down" in a short period of time - using the correct exercises.
Over a period of time, with a
sensitive, skilled helper, the dog learns how much power he actually
has - he learns to use his power, and
also to still recognize the end of the fight. He learns to "turn off"
almost instantly, because he knows the fight is finished. Look
back - you'll see we've never "lied" to the dog - OR let the helper
lie to the dog. He's always seen
that "aus" is to be believed. You'll also see there's never any
"re-agitation" after an "aus". To do so would only show the dog that
this ISN'T "aus" - the fight is still in progress. And that
will not build reliable outs!
We're going to use the square table to build habits - in time, the dog will practically tear the post out of the table to get at the helper.
|WHAT ABOUT THE WEAKER DOG?|
We've discussed training dogs
with medium to high strength, dogs with outing problems, and, generally,
strong dogs. Well, what about the weaker dogs? The dogs that
flight and show weakness in their temperament? My honest feelings:
don't waste the time or money. But we can discuss a possible
alternative - and it has severe limitations.
At this exact point, the dog
must learn that fight is the solution to the stress. He must
learn that flight, avoidance, and submission are not the solutions to the
stress. What's coming is difficult, but it's got to be done.
|SUSPICION - THREAT - PAIN|
Boy, this is going to be a bitch. I feel it coming, and it's the worst part of this book. I knew when I started I'd have to write about this. I didn't like it then, and I don't like it now.
Suspicion : is what makes some dogs want
ANY INDICATION ....
and the helper is gone - disappear!
In these situations, I generally do not stop to praise the dog after he's
successfully driven the helper away, instead, I repeat the confrontation at
least 3-5 times before the dog rests or is praised. I try to set
this knowledge in the dog's mind. He can beat this
son-of-a-bitch helper, and I work to get those pebbles in the pail
dog is still hot. After 3-5 reps, I'll usually "transition", and
the handler and I will both go to the dog and praise him. In these
moments, the dog may show a lot of insecurity, trying to jump on us, paws
all over us, whining, etc. We back away from the dog until he settles
a little, and then go back to the praise. He's "leaking" from the
stress, but he's not corrected for these behaviors. After a few
minutes of praise, we're back to work again.
I find in working with weaker dogs that I use a longer transition between "fight time" and "out time". Frequently, I'll use hot dogs to help get the dog calmed after the fight. Both the handler and I will feed the dog on the table. Again, this can take a lot of time, and it's very hard to decide if the dog is really worth all the effort.
It's hard to tell a handler that his dog is a wimp, and 3 years of training still won't produce a bite worth discussing. But we're not gonna change the truth - not all dogs are created equal. Not all dogs have the nerves to fight. Some dogs are born weak, some are raised to be weak - did you read about "human power", above?
At some point in time, after many times on the table doing TOTO, we've got
to move to the bite stage. Thru the years I've learned that the weaker
dogs often have problems with the bite itself. It may be here that the
"make 'em or break
'em" rumor got its start. Somehow, the weak dog must be provoked to
want to bite. If it's not coming from suspicion, (and it's not
coming from suspicion, is it?) it's time to turn up the heat a little.
HOLD ON! I better qualify that:
make an honest effort to get a reaction, but some dogs would rather do anything
than fight. I can't (and won't) do a thing with those dogs.
Keep in mind that ANY fight reaction from the dog causes the helper to
flight. In other words, he can win, but he's got to fight to do it.
I'd like to clarify this a little more: I'll use the absolute minimum amount of pain or discomfort to get the dog to respond, or "turn on".
It's going to get worse .... or better!
I recognize that the dog is weak.
The owners always want the same thing: they really want the dog to come out, to be a
protection dog, to fulfill their wants and their needs. They encouraged me not to give
up too quickly. I think we all know the moral of that story.
Maybe I shouldn't let the owners influence me, but often, I have to really
try to bring a dog out.
This dog isn't right for protection work. If he had normal nerves and responses, we'd all know it by now. There's no benefit for any of us to force a square peg into a round hole. Give him some hot dogs, praise him a little, and get him off the table. Let's go find a dog who's more suited to protection work, and spend our time training that dog.
As I sit here typing, I'm thinking that I've used electricity to bring out a
total of 7 or 8 dogs. Of these, 1 was a complete washout, and the
others wound up doing pretty acceptable bitework.
The one that washed was a mix breed, I think Lab and Rottweiler, male, about 2-3 years. His response was flight and cry. At no time did he ever face me or show any fight response. I touched him with the collar twice or three times, and then quit. The owner was sitting right there, and we both realized that this dog couldn't do the work.
In this chapter, I'll discuss some of the more interesting problems I've
seen, and some details of how they were resolved.
|RE-ESTABLISH THE UMBILICAL CORD|
Sometimes, a very important
step in pre-training can be re-establishing the umbilical cord. These
details are important, so please read carefully. You'll be surprised
what this little technique can do for your relationship with your dog -
especially with an adult new dog!
In a few days, since the source of food is no longer the bowl, we can begin to put food in the bowl again. The dog will learn to ignore the bowl after a few days or so. You might have to help him or correct him if he tries to stick his nose in the bowl, but he'll get the idea soon. At that time, the bowl can be used, but the handler takes the food from the bowl, and offers it to the dog. The dog does not take the food from the bowl.
A scenario might include taking the dog outside for play, walk, etc. At some point, when the dog is not paying attention to the handler, a clicking noise, whistle, etc. is made, the dog's attention focuses, and food is offered from the hand. The dog quickly learns to connect the sound with food, and will become very reliable to this signal. Remember to be consistent! REMEMBER NOT TO LIE!
Be sure to use exactly the
same sound or word every time. When I do this, I make the sound every
time the dog takes the food. Exactly: For each handful, I make the
sound or word again. This same procedure should be repeated in the
house, car, etc. at non-regular intervals. The dog might receive 5
handfuls, 15, or 1, it might be during a walk, playing ball, or at any time.
I use a "belly bag" - the type that belts around the waist, and is easily
washable. The entire feeding should not be given at one time, instead,
break it up across the day. Note please: the dog is not being given a
reduced ration of food or being starved. The regular daily ration is
simply being delivered to the dog in a different manner. The bowl is
no longer the source - the handler is.
After about 7 days of following this process, the dog should be restricted to his kennel, and the handler should "abandon" the dog for 24 hours. No food whatsoever should be provided to the dog. He'll be OK without food for one day, so don't have a breakdown! The handler should remain out of the dog's sight, and/or totally ignore the dog. If you can do it, the preferred method is to not allow the dog to see/hear/smell the handler for an entire day. After 24 hours, the handler releases the dog, ball, play, walk, and food from the hand follow. The reunion is exuberant. The dog has not been cut from the pack, and his leader has returned with food.
There's more. Believe me - there's MUCH more.