Get Your Dog Thinking Update 2018

2018 update..


You know when I began training dogs it was all about forcing the dog to do what you asked. This was not for me so, I just had a good time with dogs. Most of the dogs I worked with were bigger and tougher then I was anyway. This gave me the opportunity to learn how to communicate with dogs and get them to do what I wanted w/o coercion or force. Then came the positive training model. There are a lot of great things that came out of the positive only training model and we use many of these techniques in Motley Dog Dog Training.  We try to have several techniques for common dog training problems and Many of the positive only techniques lend themselves to communication and secure attachment with is the foundation of Motley Dog Dog Training.  So, a natural question that arose from all of this experience is, how do dogs learn and communicate in nature.

When I was in grade school I wrote a seven page report about wolves just for fun. later in life, I realized that dogs are not the stupid creatures that these training models made them out to be. Well, I reviewed this wolf stuff and compared it to dogs.. now dogs are not wolves. To explain, one study concluded that we share 95% DNA with our canine counter parts now I have spent so much time with various canines that I maybe one but, you get my point. (  

(Apparently, this study is about comparing our DNA to chips but, hey it is analogous. The point is that small variations in genetic structure creates very different things.)

What I noticed is that all of these aforementioned learn by communication, example and experience. We have also discussed why there is a lot of evidence that dogs have memory and make decisions. Ever seen a wolf hunt. Based off of years of exploration & the study of various disciplines in psychology, I concluded that the best method of training a dog is to use these abilities. This is the foundation of Motley Dog Dog Training. So, you guessed it, developing comms with your dog is step two.

I will admit that when I began The Motley Method used a lot of non-verbal and verbal communication. I have recently been lucky enough to spend the last year training under the watchful eye of a former US Navy SEAL, and serving as a kind of instructor/team lead on his online training sight. I will continue though this year if anyone is curious, I was honored that I was asked to stay on. Hopefully they asked me to stick around for my brains not just my good looks 🙂  Our systems are very similar. I have stolen one of SOCOM techniques because as much as I hate to admit it… it is a more natural fit for how canines learn in the first place.

Now comms begins with our attachment but, we are going to build on that stage making our bond stronger and a useful tool for the challenges that lie a head. (this means that you will need to continue the exercises from attachment and incorporate them into this evolution…we are here to help.. don’t panic)


When a wolf pup or dog pup, is very young they goof around, explore and mom, the other puppies or the world either, reinforces their behavior, corrects or outright punishes the pup. Now if you have done your attachment exercises correctly then you should notice that the pups area of exploration is expanding.  The pup will look back to you for direct when a challenge arises but, gain confidence by facing challenges on their own as opposed to needing your protection or guidance. (all Motley Dog Dog Training stuff.) When we hit this critical period of development we steal SOCOM exercise and hope we don’t have an angry Navy SEAL after us.

SOCOM exercise. (2017)

Simply you stand there and wait for your dog to offer behaviors and then reward the ones you want. This is so simple but, so important. Just like with pups in their natural learning environment, no one directs them, cues them or gives them hints of what will lead to success. Just genus, it is the natural place to start.

As you can see this helps the dog think..very useful in the future.

Now we have added this 1er step to Motley Dog but, we go a little further.


Did you know you can influence your dogs behavior simply with your body posture or how fast or slow you move. Something to think about as we learn comms with our dog.

Get that dog thinking..





Some of the psychological research that inspired my dog thinking stuff is work like, John Pelley’s work which really inspired me. Not to mention the decades we have been experimenting with Mice and other animals learning mazes and the like 🙂

Thank you Much.. Dr. Pelley and others that make Psychology cool 🙂

Thank you SOCOM


Get Your Dog Thinking


Dog Training sometimes trips people up because they are often learning the steps of dog training while trying to teach their dog.

Humans are only capable of full attention to one task at a time. (search) Remember last month when we talked about simple association well neither you or your dog are simple association animals but, you do both have the limitation of only being able to put your full attention into one task at a time.

At Motley Dog Dog Training the first step is for me to teach the handler the steps of the technique. I do not normally tell my clients this out right but, have decided that I should. Once the handler has some idea of what they are doing we can teach the dog. Kind of like when you are on a flight and the attendant tells you to put your oxygen mask on before helping your child.

Sit, stay, heal and other common skills will come quickly once the handler and dog know how to communicate. We do not teach the basic obedience to a dog. We simply, learn to communicate with them when we would like them to perform one of these innate tasks. This holds true for more advanced skills too.. Bite work, sniffing around for things like SAR. You get the idea. We are shaping how we want the dog to use the skills they came with and if they do not have them then they do not qualify for the job.

Now that we know that we don’t really teach the dog much of anything, our job is to get the dog thinking about what it can do and learn to tell the dog when we would like it done.

Most people think this is accomplish by reward or punishment… nope. Dogs also come programed to read non-verbal communication better then any person will ever be able to. So, yep we have already begun learn each other non-verbal comms. Even if you are a master of non-verbal communication you have to be paying attention to the handler.

If you have ever tried to explain something to someone else who is not paying attention to you; you realize this is not good communication. Similarly, if you have someone who thinks they are the worlds greatest multi-tasker and they only pay partial attention to you, if you track the result you will find that this slows the process and makes it more time consuming.

This leads us to the basis of training.



Have you ever seen your dog or anyone’s dog looking intently at someone or something and paying close attention ? Did you notice that in that moment it is difficult to redirect the dogs attention away from whatever it is attending to?  This full attention is the target behavior that we are shooting for.

Remember first you learn then you teach your dog. What does you dog pay attention to?

Movement is a big one for a lot of dogs.


New objects

Everyone’s favorite, smell.

The order of this list varies with individual dogs so, pay attention to what gets your dogs attention.

Once you have a list of what get’s your dogs attention you need to work with your dog in a quiet place and experiment with getting their attention.


Dogs are just like people. Some can pay attention for a lot longer then others. The goal is to work on engaging your dogs full attention for longer and longer periods of time.

Play with your dog and you will start to find times when the dog is trying to figure out what you want. This is our goal. Also, we should be to the stage where your dog looks to you for instruction due to a secure attachment.

Motley and I stared with a ball. We started with short periods of time. A few moments here and there and gradually worked up to being able to attend to me and not the ball even in a bunch of other dogs.  Motley also likes to hunt and find things so,  another exercise is when I get his attention and take an object and hide it and have him find it, or put the object in a maze of things and let him figure out how to get the prize.

Motley will now let me direct him to things if he loses something. This is communication. This did not happen over night it took time and an investment to build from, the easy to the hard. Motley makes me look good. Sometimes I don’t know how he puts up with me.

Hopefully, you get the idea, have fun with your dog, enjoy each others company. Get them to climb, jump, find a ball, or whatever you and your dog are interested in.

Start in a quiet place with no distractions and work your way up to chaos :0.  If you loose communication move back to a less distracting environment. Remember also that anxious dogs will take longer to build confidence and allow you to redirect their attention. Be patient and consistent.

This is really the most difficult step in Dog Training but, it is the most rewarding and important. Trust me sit, stay and even the elusive recall commands will be easy once you have invested the time and energy into communication and the ability to get each others attention.

So, for all the humans out there.

Steps in teaching a skill

1. Get your dogs attention

2. Command


3. Mark behavior (shape, model or elaborate)

3. Reward.

The only correction at this stage is redirection the dogs attention.. have a good time and make it a good time for your teammate really is the best motivator. Besides, you will need to practice going from fun and play to serious and confident so, you need the practice changing your non-verbal messages. (when you get it right, it will be obvious because the dog will respond correctly)

If this goes badly remember, you missed something not your dog !!!! Don’t get frustrated just go back and have fun.


Next time we will have our thoughts about how to have a congruent non-verbal message.

A hint… if you are trying to communicate to your dog that you are serious about something yet you are all bent over like you are going to pet the dog…. the verbal does not agree with the non-verbal … you dog will always go with the body language no matter how many years you have been working on the “sit” command… stand up like a leader convey confidence and then see if your dog takes you a little more seriously…

Till next time.


Motley says WOOF !!!!