Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Training Puppies using Belly Bands.

This Is George Attlas' book, now out of print.
Edited by Bella Levorsen.

To quote what George Attla said. "...The dog never makes a mistake. He does
what he does because he is a dog and he thinks like a dog. It is you that makes
the mistake because you haven't trained him to do what you want him to do when
you want him to do it."
The first time a dog backs out of a harness it is usually an incidental
accident. The second time, it is a learned behavior. I guess it is just my
style of training that doesn't allow me to use belly bands. I can see if you
have clients at a mushing clinic and the student dog is hundreds of miles from
home. A belly band is just cheap insurance. Even then, after training many
dogs for over 10 years at mushing clinics I never felt the need to use a belly
It has been a really long time since I trained a dog that had learned to back
out. I recognize the behavior the instant it occurs and that is far as it gets.
Perhaps it is the canicross work I do before I ever hook up to a wheeled rig
that makes the difference. Perhaps it is my voice and the dog listening to me
that prevents the behavior from escalating. I insist before I ever hook up to a
scooter that a dog always face forward with the line out taut. Turning to face
me is only allowed when I call the dog to let them loose or when I use the
command "come around" for a U turn. Even when I untangle a dog in the team I
insist that everyone stay facing forward. Of course this kind of discipline
comes from miles on the trail and not just puppy training.
When running a single dog there is no way he can back out of a harness unless you let your dog get behind you or if the dog turns to face you and backs out then. Dogs also can back out when there is a gang line attached to one or more dogs to pull back on. You have to anticipate what your dog will do and correct the behavior instantly.
Belly bands are often used by drivers that have more than one dog running without necklines. To back out, a dog in a team will usually have to slip the collar first. A dog can learn the behavior if you don't nip it in the bud from the beginning. Backing out is puppy behavior that is easily discouraged by a little gentle scolding . I never train using belly bands. It is better to avoid the scenario where you allow a dog to back out. That is more a lesson in training the driver and not the dog.
This photo was taken this past January at the Frog Lake Dog Races near Mt Hood Oregon. Mojo is in lead with Seamus in wheel.

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