Watercubs & Kivisilmän
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Waterwork training on land:
When people hear ’waterwork training’, they automatically picture a lake or an ocean. However, the majority of the work is done in the livingroom, backgarden or the training field. It is much easier to teach the dog new things while on land, rather than in water. The dog is easier to direct, control and reward on time on land. In water, moving is harder and slower and you cannot use all the helping tools which you have on land. The training period will also be longer when you train on land.
Train in as many different places and situations as possible. Be patient, as often the dog will forget everything it has learnt when trying to train in an unfamiliar place. Dogs are situation bound and regression is normal in any new situation. The more places you have trained in, the more the dog will be able to function in unfamiliar places.
1. Strong command words (stop, no, back, wait, let go…) which stop the action. They should be given with short, low and sharp voice.
2. Stimulating command words (forward, jump, get…) which encourage the dog. They should be strengthened with dynamic, high, singing voice.
When your dog works well on land, even in the presence of disruptions, you are ready to go into the water. Your dog has to be in complete control at all times, because an over-excited dog will not be able to concentrate and listen to their handler. You have to make sure the dog is calm before telling it what you want done. A dog who loves water is excellent, but you need to know how to harness the energy correctly, so that waterwork stays a safe and fun sport. Waterwork drive does not mean the dog is not in total control.
The main commands you will need for waterwork are:
-come: the dog will come to the handler
-take: the dog will take whatever is in front of its mouth, be it a rope, dummy, oar or a life jacket…
-let go: the dog will let go of the object in its mouth
-bring: the dog will bring the desired object back to the handler
-find: the dog will know the desired object is somewhere within a meter’s vicinity. The dog will start actively searching for the object by circling
-forward: the dog will continue swimming forward
-no: the dog knows that the action is not desired and will start to offer other actions. E.g. with directed retrieve, by using the ‘no’ command the dog will start circling and looking for a new swimming direction, until it hears the command ‘forward’
-good: the dog know that the action it is doing, is correct and nothing should be changed. It is used in long-distance swimming and of course when praising the dog
-jump: the dog will jump from the boat, pier…
-bring and take -commands have an additional ending. E.g. bring boat, bring dummy, bring doll, bring drowning person, bring rope… the dog knows exactly which object to bring
training the dog’s name. This is easily done during leash walks: call your
dog only by name and reward it every time it initiates eye-contact. The dog
will learn very quickly the equation: dog’s name=immediate reward from
handler. By training the name, you can reinforce your contact with your dog,
and in situations where there are numerous dogs, your dog will know which
command is directed to it.
Start by using the dog’s favorite toy. If the dog is not interested in toys and does not carry them naturally, this has to be taught.
Get a dummy which the dog is even slightly interested in. Put it high on the top shelf next to the front door. Whenever you come back from e.g. shopping trip, work, play with the dummy before greeting the dog. Gradually your dog will start to wonder, what the toy is that is so interesting to you. You can tease the dog with the dummy, but always place it on the shelf when the dog is still interested in it. Slowly you can start playing with the dog with the special dummy. Your dog will associate the special dummy with fun play and think it’s absolutely-fantastic! You can also give the dog its favorite dummy and start running. When you stop, play with the dog and the dog will associate the dummy with the fun run and play.
Even if your dog knows how to carry things naturally, you should teach the dog to associate a command word with the action. You need to be able to get the dog to carry specific object in specific directions at specific times.
It is important to remember that when training the ‘let-go’ command and by using a treat for a reward, the dog will very easily learn to anticipate the command and lets go too early. It is a good idea not to use treats but rather play as a reward. By playing, the dummy is made even more interesting and this will make training for the other commands easier.
Take a hold of one end of the dummy and command ‘let go’. Place your other hand under the dog’s jaw. If the dog does not let go, push your finger between the side teeth and release the toy. The toy should always be let go after the first command, as you cannot hope to win a tug-of-war with an adult Newfie. Always continue the play right after so that the dog associated ‘let go’ with fun play, not the losing of a toy. When you start playing, give the command ‘take’, so that the dog knows it is allowed to take the toy in its mouth.
The training for the ‘bring’-command is essentially the same as for ‘take’, but the distance is longer and the object is on the ground/water/other person and not in your hand. When the dog knows the ‘take’ command, it basically knows the ‘bring’ command.
avoid using treats, as the dog will learn very easily to anticipate the
reward and will let go of the object too early. If you have rewarded the dog
by pulling play, it will bring the dummy to you more surely as it knows that
without the toy you cannot play. If the dog drops the object too early,
never pick it up but command the dog to ‘take’ it again. You can push the
toy around and try and make it very interesting to the dog. When the dog is
bringing the object to you, you can back away a few steps while calling the
dog. This way the dog will learn to offer the toy. Never reach out or grab
the toy quickly as this is very hard to do in water and often the dog will
start to circle a meter away from you not wanting to release the toy. It is
much easier to teach the dog to bring the toy all the way to your hand and
to keep it in its mouth until you are ready to take it.
take-commands have additional endings
Teach the dog to recognize one object among others (command: bring dummy), by placing the object closer than others and in direct line to the dog. The dog will usually bring this object to you as it is the easiest to bring.
When the dog
brings the specific object to you, change the command (command: bring oar)
and the desired object (oar) and start from the beginning by placing the oar
closer and in direct line to the dog. Gradually you can make the exercise
more difficult by placing the objects next to each other or directing the
dog to the furthest object…
You do not
need to practice the find-command separately. It can be taught with the
bring-command. When the dog is a meter from the desired object, command
‘find’, always before ‘take’. This way the dog learns that ‘find’ means the
object is very near. This command is essential in water, as the dog will not
always be able to see the object e.g. when there are high waves, wind.. The
‘find’ command also means that the dog is near the desired object. The dog
will learn to listen to this command and not care and swim past any other
objects in the water until it hears the command.
Place the dog sitting next to you, tell it to wait and step away for a few steps. Place a treat in an open jar or a plate on the ground and return to the dog. Command ‘forward’ and point at the treat jar. Usually the dog will head straight to the treats. Even though the dog gets the reward from the jar, praise the dog and call it back to you for additional treats. Repeat the exercise a few times and you can make the exercise harder at your next training session by placing the treat jar further away. When your dog knows to head straight to the jar, place the treat on the ground. This way the dog cannot see the treat but if it understands the command, will head forward (use the ‘find’-command a meter before the treat).
When the dog knows the command, you can start sending the dog to ‘empty’ space ie. sending the dog forward without placing the treat on the ground. When the dog has advanced a certain distance, go to the dog and reward it. Do not call the dog back, as this the idea is that the dog goes away from you not that it comes to you. When the dog knows how to go forward to an empty space in the direction you want 5-10m, you can trust that it will know the command in water as well where the distances are much longer.
Remember to train the command in different directions, so do not only practice following the road. Also practice crossing the road, backwards and at angles in different directions.
You can use
the ‘forward’-command with the ‘bring’-command
(bring-forward-find-take-come-let go): the dog continues forward past the
different object and knows it is going in the direction.
You should practice this command with the ‘forward’-command, especially when training to send the dog into “empty” space. You can place three treat jars on the ground (only one has a treat) and send the dog to one. When the dog is heading to the wrong one, use the ‘no’-command (e.g. forward-no-no-forward-find).
When the dog
knows the ’forward’-command, you can teach the dog to change direction by
using the ‘no’-command. Reward the dog the second it changes direction, so
it knows what is expected. With a more advanced dog, you can make the dog
change direction multiple times and direct it to the desired object even if
the objects are very close together.
dog throughout the exercise, never leave them until the end. You have to
make sure the dog knows that what it is doing is correct. As an example,
when the dog is bringing an object, you can command depending on the length
of the distances (the longer, the more commands): bring, forward, good,
forward, good, forward, bring, good,…, find, take, good, come, good, come,
good,… When the exercise has ended, remember to praise the dog by using
different words, so that the dog knows the exercise is finished: perfect,
magnificent, super, awesome!
It is often
difficult to train the ‘jump’-command on land, but if you have access to a
blow-up boat or any other base which is higher than the ground is, you can
use it as the starting point. The easiest way is to teach ‘jump’ when you
are teaching the ‘come’ command. Place the dog in the boat, tell the dog to
wait, and back away. Call the dog (jump-good-come) and reward. It is also
important to teach the dog to leave your side. You can teach this by placing
a treat jar a few steps away from ‘the boat’ and directing your dog to it
(jump, forward, find).
11. Away-command (i.e.
taking a line)
Training this command is not difficult if your dog kows the 'take' and 'forward' commands. Give your dog an object and command 'away' at the same time as you point towards your assistant who is standing a few meters away. If the dog looks like it will hesitate, the assistant can back up and encourage the dog by using their voice to come to them. Command Let go after which the assitant rewards the dog by a short play. Decide before you start, who commands and at what time using which words.You can also run with the dog to the assistant during the first few tries. Remember, if it looks like you are having a lot of fun, the dog will think that it's extra-super-duper-fun to take a line.
And the most important thing, which you should never forget is to Have fun!