Tuesday, 14 April 2009

lunge-training for dogs

Penny and I are always ready for something new, and I'm wondering about a new training method I saw on a German blog today. It's called 'longieren' in German and my dictionary translates it as "lunge" training.

As I understand it, you put up a circle of stakes and join them with a line of tape that is lower than the dog's height. You start off by walking around the circle with the human inside and the dog outside, on a normal lead. (Maybe a dog like Penny, who's used to working off-lead, wouldn't need the lead). You reward the dog every time she as much as glances at you. So I guess it's like "heel", but they say to use a different command, because of the fact that you are doing special work. The dog is only rewarded if she is outside the ring.

Next, over a series of training sessions, you use a longer, very light lead and you move towards the centre of the circle, thus having the dog further from you. The aim would be to get rid of the lead altogether, as the dog realises rewards only come when she is outside and you are inside.

I'm a bit fuzzy on how the treats get to her. Maybe you throw them?

It looks great for training a dog to work at a distance, something Penny can do well in the kitchen or the training venue, BUT NOT IN THE PARK!!

All the information says it's great for increasing the bond between you and your dog, and for giving exercise at the same time. But it says to be careful not to let the dog over-exert herself, because she will be having lots of fun and might not notice how tired she's getting.

Eventually you could be doing hand-signals for sit, drop, reverse direction of movement, even adding in jumps or whatever your imagination offers.

On one site I read the circle could be between fifteen and thirty metres in diameter, depending on the size of the dog (and, I guess, how much exercise you want them to get in the session).Hmm... could be a problem finding a place to set it up.

I've tried searching the Net for English sites but all I find is stuff about stopping a dog from lunging at people. Maybe there is another English word. I'm certainly going to keep my eyes open for information, because it looks good.


Anonymous said...

I've had the exact problem with finding a website that would show me how to teach my dog to lunge. Horse trainers teach their horses to do the exact same thing, but I can't figure out how. I found a video on youtube of a dog lunging, but no explanation. It's been driving me nuts, because this is something I really want to do with my dog. I've been able to teach him voice commands, and he runs next to me with no problem, but I can't get him to leave my side.

parlance said...

Hi, anonymous. The trainer who runs my fun/tricks sessions is a horse rider and also trains dogs (obviously!). I think she knows something about lunging - would you like me to ask her if she can point you to a site? It's a long shot, but maybe she can.

Anonymous said...

That would be really helpful, so far the training hasn't been working. Thank you!

parlance said...

I asked her and she didn't know of any specific sites. However, she suggested setting up a ring of some sort, perhaps using something like a baby playpen, and you stand in it and give the commands with the dog next to you but separated by the playpen. If he can do an action, throw him a treat. Gradually step away from him, only making the distance a tiny bit more each time and rewarding for doing the action at any distance away from you.

Hope this is helpful. Do you do clicker training?

Anonymous said...

I'll try that, hopefully it works. I've never tried clicker training, becuase I didn't see a point. Do you think it could help me?

parlance said...

Clicker training simply means that you give the dog an exact signal when she is doing the right thing. It's very effective. I don't use an actual click any more - I use the word "yess!"

If you search under 'clicker training' on the web you will find lots of resources. It works very well.

Anonymous said...

So clicker training doesn't actually need a clicker, it can be with any sound, as long as it is the same sound all the time? That might work. I'll try that.

parlance said...

Yeah, I only use the actual clicker when training a totally new trick or move. I use my voice for other times - the short word marks the EXACT moment the dog is doing what you want to reward, so you have to watch, eg for the exact moment when the bottom hits the ground. I'm so bad at co-ordination that I couldn't click at the right moment.

I also say that the word "yess" marks the end of the move, so Penny can leave the position and come to me for a reward. Not everyone does it that way, though. Some want the dog to stay in position until the 'release' word, which, when I use it, is 'go free'.

Anonymous said...

I think I'll try that; it sounds like it could really help. Do you have a different sound for when your dog disobeys?

parlance said...

There's really no disobedience involved. It's just you explaining very clearly what you want. If the dog does something different, that is ignored by you, ie you don't reward it.

If a dog is being rewarded for doing what you want, then they will actually try to do it, so they won't disobey.

If the dog does something different, just have a think about why the request wasn't clear, why you didn't show the dog exactly what you wanted.

If you go to YouTube, there are heaps of short video clips of dogs being taught tricks. I've uploaded some, but I'm absolutely not an expert. If you browse my YouTube (killarneykate's channel) you'll see how I do it. But you'll find better ones under search terms such as "youtube teaching the dog clicker training".

Have fun!

Anonymous said...

Okay, thank you for your help!