Guest Post: Timing is Everything in Training

Reprinted with permission from Sally Hummel, Rugby James. This article is original in content and not to be reproduced elsewhere in any form. Copyright May 3, 2016.

Mama Sally

For many years when she was alive, my mom enjoyed picking lottery numbers and buying a ticket each week.  It was the most fun her $2.00 could buy, and you can’t say that about much, these days.  She would agonize over which numbers would actually be the winners….laying out her previous tickets, and wondering what she should change to have a winner this time.  There were many times when she actually matched several numbers, but she never actually matched them all, and as we all know, the only one who wins that huge jackpot is the lucky person who happens to get all of the numbers right!

Success in dog training can be just a bit like that, although dogs are much more lenient than the lottery officials!  Dogs have a very limited time to understand praise or a correction–one or two seconds.  This means that your timing must be very precise if your dog is really going to learn what you want him to know.


Walking a dog is one of life’s simple pleasures, isn’t it?  Don’t we all dream about that nice relaxing walk where we can take Sparky out and get some pleasant exercise with him?  Let me say first of all, that in my opinion, the “right” way to walk a dog is to teach a dog to walk on one side of you only, left or right, and not to pull on the leash at all.  And when I say loose leash, I mean loose, like you can see the letter “J” in the leash from your dog’s collar or harness up to your hand.  That’s it!  Easy peasy, right?

Most of the problems I see on leash walking is because an owner is correcting the dog too late, after the dog is already pulling.  Once the leash is taut and the slack is gone, your dog gets no correction of any kind.  It’s just his brute force dragging  his owner forward.  Dogs are far stronger than they look. So most often, the dog wins. Then he continues to do what works for him, even though he’s gasping and struggling in the process.

Learn to watch your leash instead of your dog.  When you see the slack starting to go, because your dog is pulling too far ahead, that’s the time you want to offer a tug back not up and tell your dog, “NO!”  He can feel that tug on his collar when the leash is loose, and most of the time, a dog will look back at you.  That’s when I change directions, effectively asking the dog to follow his leader.  When he willingly comes along, looking up at me, I offer him a small kibble sized treat for his efforts.

At the very moment that your dog gets up from a sit stay, if you quickly tug straight up with the leash and repeat, “NO!” your dog will most often sit right back down and look up at you.  I say, “Good dog!” and ask him to “Stay” again.  Correcting your dog after he’s already up and taking steps is way too late.

What a huge difference you will see on your results when you adjust your timing!!  Learn to anticipate what your dog will do next!  Dogs will often do things in patterns just like humans.  So if your dog has gotten up twice on that Sit/Stay, you can pretty safely assume that he’s going to get up the third time, and be ready to time your correction to catch him in the act of making the mistake.  That’s an effective correction, and it’s something that will help your dog learn exactly what you want!

Rugby James

When I lived in the udder homes what I had, mostly fings was inconsistent for me.  Sumtimes I gotted trained, and sumtimes not….sumtimes I gotted walks, and sumtimes not….sumtimes I gotted to pull on walks and sumtimes not….see what I mean?  How’s a lil dogger wif a small brain and no fumbs gonna learn anyfing from that one?

Doggers is just no dummies and we can figure stuff out purty quick when Uprights sends us the right, consistent information from the leash!  If the Uprights is all over the place wif the stuff that they’re doing to train us, why would they fink their doggers will figure it out? Pfft!

For all of my dogger Furends what gots special needs like me, this stuff is really important!  Sumtimes, if the Mama uses a voice what is too strong, or moves too quick at me, it makes me back up and growl, on account of I gets skeered of that stuff.  But when she works slow and steady wif me, doing the right stuff, and the same stuff, I can learn and come along, and then I feel safe and it builds my confidence and our trust togedder.  I like knowing what stuff makes the Mama happy, but really, I lubs getting kibbles and lotsa pets  and ear scratches for getting stuff right too!

If you isn’t sure what the right stuff is to do, find a trainer like the Mama what can help you learn!  I’ve heared that Uprights can learn new stuff, even if they is old, and that will make a big, big difference to your lil doggers!  Learning how to nail down the timing for training is really so very helpful for doggers to figure stuff out!  Doggers doesn’t getsa stay on Earf for a very long time, so I fink it would be really good if Uprights could really enjoy their doggers and make a good life wif them doing the stuff what makes everpawdy happy.

Sally&RugbyBioIn 2007, a dog trainer found herself falling in love with her first rescue dog. That trainer was Sally Hummel and the dog would become Rugby James. The goal of her website is to provide education, support, community, encouragement, and hope. Difficult dogs are often “recycled from shelter to home to shelter to home, and back to shelter, until they are often put to sleep.” Sally would like to change this by sharing her own day to day life with a “neurotic” dog. She wants to help owners “stay committed to their pooch, and try to make life better for them.” Her site exists because she believes pet owners can live well with a difficult dog. Her own Rugby James is living proof of that!


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