Here is the Sample Session from the Weekly Lesson Page. This is a very simple session with experienced dogs. Apryl used this as a little warm-up for the experienced dogs so they’d know what their job was and not be silly on camera for the rest of the session. It’s a good practical example of Working with Multiple Dogs.
Set the Working Dogs
I mentioned that these dogs on Spots and Pedestals were experienced. They have been through this drill countless times. Apryl probably could have just set the dogs up on the Pedestal and the Spot without reinforcing them, but adding some rapid fire reinforcement at the beginning of the session does help them remember that the Spot or Pedestal is a good place to be. Keep in mind that these dogs do hour long downstays at times and are quite accomplished at this skill, so giving them 5 cookies per minute (CPM means cookies per minute. It is a fun expression for rate of reinforcement, a very important dog training concept. CPM should be between 15 to 30 CPM when learning or adding value to a behavior or a situation. A focus on reducing CPM should only happen after the dog perceives great value in doing the behavior the handler is...) is some pretty rapid reinforcement.
It worked. The dogs were totally cool holding their position the whole session.
If we were working dogs that were less experienced, the Rate of Reinforcement for the Working Dogs would have been much higher.
One thing that is very important for successfully managing multiple dogs is energy level. The energy level of the game needs to be low and even. Slow, methodical, plodding… etc. Apryl’s energy level here is quite low, she’s rather flat in her emotional expression and is methodical in her movements. It’s very easy to lose the handle on multiple dogs if the energy level of the game fluctuates too much. High intensity excitement is too high a distraction and with multiple dogs, things can go south quite quickly.
As our dogs get more accustomed to taking turns and staying on task, then we can start to add some fluctuating energy levels and higher intensity distractions.
Recalling the Distraction Dog is pretty cool. Our working dog(s) is on task as we Recall the Distraction Dog. The Working Dog(s) hold position while one of the Pack is Released and moves towards the handler. Great experience for the Working Dog! And it’s Super easy.
Grab 2 dogs.
Choose the dog with the best Spot or Pedestal behavior to be your Working Dog and the dog with the weaker duration skills can be the Distraction.
Get the Working Dog on the Spot and Set their Position. Recall the Distraction Dog.
As the Distraction Dog is recalling, Pay the Working Dog.
Dismiss Distraction Dog and Repeat.
Max time – 2 minutes