A Typical Day of Training For An Incredible Maremma Owner
The words “training an LGD” conjure up something different for every person reading this. I believe that most buyers of LGDs would do the work necessary to raise well trained, trustworthy guardians if they knew what that looked like.
This blog is written for buyers of my pups. My pups are at least five months old when they leave me, so most of the oh so important early training work has already been done with them. If you are reading this and have a pup younger than this and want to follow these guidelines go to the “Follow Blush’s Litter” category, find the age range that your pups are in, go back from there to pups that are a week or two younger than yours, and start from there.
Most new LGD owners have a very vague idea of what an optimal training program should look like for their pups. As you live with your pups there will be things they do in your presence that you like – and things they do that you don’t like. If you mark and reinforce (M/R) the things you like the pups will do those behaviors more and more often. Also, typically, doing the behaviors you like is incompatible with doing the behaviors you don’t; an example would be that a pup who is being reinforced for standing calmly in front of you cannot also be putting his feet on you. This is handy stuff!
Building a training bank account is important in a new relationship with a pup, when teaching a pup a new behavior, or reinforcing a behavior the pup was taught here. Incidentally, pups don’t come with a button to push, even for a behavior well understood here, because relationship is earned, especially a training relationship.
When you get your new pups it is almost like starting over, except that the pup will relatively quickly recognize that he does indeed understand that what you are asking for is something he already knows; you just asked for it a bit differently.
Once you have earned a solid training relationship with you pups using a marker word instead of a clicker is fine, and eventually just body language and cuddles will be all that is needed, but in the early days with your pup M/R is a wise investment of time and effort.
Within the fabric of everyday life there are soooo many opportunities for “training sessions” – I have written that in quotations because I want you to fully understand that even if a behavior that happens, and is marked and reinforced, and all that lasts five seconds total that is a full training session!!!! That counts, big time, so toss a dime in your training history bank account and pat yourself on the back for being an effective trainer!
For the purposes of this blog I am going to list behaviors that a pup might do in a typical day that I could M/R for; I will give you real life examples. Every time you read “M/R” think “training session” – EVERY TIME!
Always pay both pups. The one you are looking at knows the click is for him; the other pup near you is reinforced for choosing to participate in your training game by being nearby.
I walk to the gate, pups cuddle with me over the top of the gate. I step back and ask the pups to get back; the pups take their feet off the gate – M/R. TRAINING SESSION
I go in, close the gate, and M/R the pups - TRAINING SESSION
A pup mands in front of me – M/R. TRAINING SESSION
I walk towards the pasture – the pup trots along side me or out in front of me – M/R. TRAINING SESSION
Pup is calm around livestock – M/R. TRAINING SESSION
I suspect you have caught on by this point that just about any pleasant behavior on the part of the pups in the early days can be marked and reinforced because that builds relationship and trust between all of you. Remember to smile and not take yourself too seriously. Training should be fun for the dogs!
NOTE: In this poorly done video (I will re-do this at a later date) I say the word “click” to be sure that the viewer knows why I am paying the pups but I am not coordinated enough to say the word and click at the same time. The click happened as the behavior happened; my word happens later. Sorry about that!