Written by Joanne Bardsley - Canine Comprehension Dog Trainer and Tutor.
Our advanced or “Great Dog” owners will have been asked by our trainers “Are you doing your one hour drop step-away?” The answer is often a resounding “No!”, and so in this blog, I will try to illuminate some of the reasons why this is a good idea.
This exercise incorporates the contrast between positive and negative reinforcement and gives the owner a practical opportunity to utilise their “vocal lead” (i.e. all the different tones of praise).
The one-hour duration is important because it is a significant amount of time for your dog to remain in the ‘drop’ position. Over this length of time, the dog will (hopefully) be exposed to numerous distractions or temptations, which give the perfect opportunity to utilise your warning tone and/or contrasting corrections if needed.
Obviously, when you are first working on this exercise, you should expect your dog to get distracted and get up several times. Don’t see this as a bad thing – these mistakes can be easily rectified using your contrasting reinforcement, circle correction, and of course – praise! (And no, the time does not re-set each time the dog gets up, it is a one-hour exercise in total.)
While the dog is in its drop over the hour, don’t forget it is still ‘working’ and should not get up until the final release command is given. It is perfectly acceptable for the dog to fall asleep in this exercise. If they wake and get up, give them a small circle and put them back in their drop.
When your dog can do a reliable one-hour drop step-away, you won’t remember how you ever did without it. There are so many useful applications for this exercise – for example, having lunch outside at a café, or even if you’re having visitors who are afraid of dogs.
Hopefully this blog has convinced you to have a go! If you are having trouble with this or any other exercise, please speak to one of our helpful training assistants.
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