While another dog is working, a dog is being taught to station

Two of my own dog training “holy grails” have been accomplished by Lewis and me. He is capable of both patiently waiting in another room while I train Clara and successfully stationing himself in the same room. Hallelujah!

These skills have wide-ranging implications

I’ve spent the most of my training time with Lewis since since I obtained him at the end of December 2021. Clara, my steadfast, wonderful Clara, has therefore not been getting as much enjoyable training time with me. Lewis’s management and training have left me worn out. She also enjoys exercising. You might recall that we were developing her trick titles. But we haven’t stopped. Finding misplaced items and sustaining her other trick behaviours have been our main goals. But unlike before, we no longer work every day.

Lewis came to me with a severe case of FOMO. He doesn’t appear to be experiencing any signs of separation anxiety or isolation discomfort, as far as I can tell. He had, however, spent vital months of his puppyhood in a situation of deprivation while living in a veterinary clinic. He was hurt by that and also picked up a wide variety of demand behaviours.

While another dog is working, a dog is being taught to station

I was unable to do something as basic as leave him in the den for five minutes while I brought Clara into another room to trim her nails for months. He shouted and shook the fence. And sometimes, goddammit, get it open. What fantastic reinforcement!

But over the course of roughly five months, he has discovered that he will get a turn. He’ll receive some. Not always, but frequently enough to be valuable. He has been receiving more of everything for months, (Clara would like me to remind you of this.)

I’m not very good at training with precision, but if you require persistence and a slow, steady growth, I’m your guy.

Dual dog training
I previously discussed how to train many dogs in a blog post, and I still use same approach today. It is relatively easy to educate one dog to wait while another receives active training. Sue Ailsby taught it to me. Train the dog that will be waiting while you work with another dog to wait on a mat or other station. Don’t concentrate on the busy dog and occasionally, or perhaps each time you treat the active dog, give a treat to the waiting dog. More praise and attention should be given to the dog who is waiting. When training with the working dog, begin by moving very slowly before quickly returning to the waiting dog and providing reinforcement. Increase the working dog’s activity and item engagement as you go along, and keep giving both dogs plenty of praise.

The waiting dog’s high rate of reinforcement won’t last forever. Once kids understand that they will eventually get a chance, you can spread out your timetable later and reduce the value of the treats. The biggest reinforcer of all can be starting work.

The videos where I started this with Lewis are nowhere to be seen. But here is one of my older films with Zani where I teach this habit in a logical way. The movie below demonstrates my most recent success as I train Clara to climb on and inside of objects while Lewis waits patiently on a Klimb platform. This has taken a while to happen.

Leave a Comment