Training my own dogs

Well, what do dog trainers train their own dogs to do? Most of the time we train them to do things that save us time or effort……mostly effort. For instance, one of my dogs has the job of counting all the other dogs and closing the front door after they all come inside. I trained her to do that out of self preservation or at least preservation of my love of sleeping in.

Recently though I’ve had another need for training.

My wife and I go on hikes with the three dogs on a regular basis. Usually one good hike a weekend at least. We’ve never had any problems with the dogs on these hikes until recently. My oldest dog, a 14 year old schnauzer named Halloween, has recently lost her hearing and her eyesight isn’t doing so well either. Now, this hasn’t really slowed Hallie down much, she still likes to go on hikes with us and roam around in the woods but it has made calling her back to us a bit more difficult lately. That’s a problem. Because when she wanders off she wanders into the type of brush I just don’t like walking through (prickly, low limbs smacking me, mud……you get the idea). So, what’s a lazy dog trainer to do?

I read an article a while back about dogs that were used in WW I. They patrolled the battle field after an action, and if they found a wounded man they would grab a ribbon off their chest or shoulder and run it back to the medical officers, then lead medics back to the person. I figured I could adapt that for my old deaf dog.

So this weekend we started working with Gwen, my springer spaniel getting her to go and grab a tab leash with her mouth and pull on it. We started by just dangling this thing on a string off my belt and telling her to “go get Hallie” and grabbing the leash for a treat. After she got pretty good at that, I started moving the tab closer to Hallie and getting her accustomed to having Gwen run up to her at a good clip. Then, I hooked the leash to Hallie and sent Gwen to go grab it. At this point, that’s all the training I’ve accomplished but by the end of the weekend, I should have Gwen so that she’ll grab the tab leash and lead Hallie back to me! Is that cool or what? It’s a great job for Gwennie and it keeps me from having to wade through the stickers to get my old dog every time she wanders off the path.

Now, if you ever wonder what a dog trainer trains his own dogs for, thing laziness and you’ll be close to correct.

Steve Haynes
Austin Dog Trainer
Fidelio Dog Works

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