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Dog training series concludes with how to keep control when other dogs are present

The Outdoors
Lead Summary
Scott Rall, outdoors columnist

This is the fourth installment of the do-it-yourself obedience training for your own dog. Prior columns have covered the basics of getting the sponge in the obedience bucket level of obedience outcome when training in your own dog.
The steps covered in the first three articles should have taken about 4-5 weeks to get really ingrained in your dog to the point where their compliance to known commands is very solid even if there are other distractions nearby like other dogs, rabbits or any number of other things like a group of kids etc.
The next steps will be to add the ability to control your dog with commands other than your voice.
The first is whistle training. I love using a whistle because the whistle cuts through many challenges you and your dog will face in the real world.
Let’s cover the first of those commands. One loud blast of the whistle is the command for “sit.” When you have your dog on a leash and give them the “sit” command, add one blast of the whistle and repeat the voice sit command.
The whistle command is not one of those wimpy whistle blows like a little kid can accomplish. This is one loud blast. By adding the whistle command with the voice command, it will take a very short time for the dog to comply only with the whistle and no voice. Sitting on the whistle will come in very handy when we start doing more advanced training work.
The other command is a series of tweet-tweet-tweets. This is the whistle command for “here.” The same program is followed. Sit your dog at a distance and give the “here” command followed immediately by a tug on the rope and a series of loud tweets in rapid succession. Blow the tweets until the dog has made it all the way back to you, repeating the “here” command as a helper.
I indicated the whistle can overcome some of the obstacles a voice command has trouble conveying. In heavy winds the voice command can get drowned out. The whistle cuts through that wind.
Other dog owners who are hollering commands to their dogs, which can confuse your dog, can be overcome when your dog is whistle-trained.
If the dog is ever going to have a life in the field hunting, a whistle command will spook far fewer birds than a big loud voice command of “here.” As before, just start out by using both the voice command and the whistle command and soon the dog will respond equally to both. Dogs take to whistle commands much faster than you might think.
After you have a good grip and good dog compliance with both whistle and voice commands on a leash, check cord or rope, you can then add a remote training collar. These are devices that allow you to make a correction to the dog for non-compliance from a distance. It is super important to understand that a remote collar has never taught a dog anything. They are only a way to make a correction for the dog’s failure to comply with the very well-known commands of “here,” “sit” and “heel.”
This again uses the least amount of correction possible to get compliance but is done with the understanding that you will ultimately need to get compliance, and if a higher level of stimulation is required to be successful, then that is what will need to be done.
There is a lot of repeating the prior proper steps with this training addition. Give the “sit” command and then apply a leash tug and a small electronic stimulation to the collar. Do this with no rhythm or cadence. Give the dog lots of freebies, meaning no corrections at all. Over time you can give a command, eliminate the leash tug, and make the correction for non-compliance only with the electronic collar. After a time, the dog’s compliance to both voice and whistle commands will be almost automatic.
Never for a second think that once this obedience training is complete, this effort is a one-and-done. Regular refreshers will be required.
Remember that every dog, I repeat every dog, will try to move up in the pack, and they will challenge you, the pack leader, on a regular basis to see if you are willing to give up your spot.
Electronic collars are a great tool in the hands of a human who understands that they are only reinforcement tools and not teaching tools. Corrections can only be made for commands that you know your dog has a deep and complete understanding of and has failed to comply to.
I will go into more detail on electronic training collars in a future column. The key today is to decide if you are up for the commitment to train your own dog and then do what it takes for about 45 days to achieve the best results.
If you have a dog question, feel free to reach out to me at and I will be glad to try to help you if I can.
Scott Rall, Worthington, is a habitat conservationist, avid hunting and fishing enthusiast and is president of Nobles County Pheasants Forever. He can be reached at or on Twitter @habitat champion.

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