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A Tree Climbing Dog
Why My Dog Climbs Trees
My two year old Golden Retriever was showing signs of low self confidence, by always submitting to other dogs. He has a very sweet disposition naturally, but this was something I felt needed to be revised for the sake of his doggy-happiness. I had to think about the best way to motivate this particular dog, while providing him with the desire to drive hard and through the tougher portion of the training process. He has always had an affinity towards his Frisbee disc, so that is where I began.
Tree Climbing Dog [click thumbnails to enlarge images]Click thumbnail to view full-size
More Tree Climbing [click thumbnails to enlarge images]Click thumbnail to view full-size
Every day I would begin to toss the Frisbee for my dog harder and faster, requiring him to move with deliberate speed and intention. As he grew in speed and stamina (about a two week period dedicated to just building strength and stamina was maintained. This was to prevent a higher probability of injury from occurring once the dog began to actually climb the tree), I started to place his Frisbee in a low part of an old dead tree in the backyard, just high enough so he could reach it if he stretched for it. Then, as he became more familiar with the game, I would put the Frisbee a little farther up in the tree. Eventually my dog had to jump a bit to reach the disc. Now that he was stronger, retrieving the Frisbee from the tree became the goal. We practiced this initial climb for about an hour until he flew off of the ground and made his way up the side of the tree.
Eventually, I placed the disc far enough up in the tree that the dog had to give a really solid jump in an effort to retrieve the Frisbee. As we went through this process, he began to show an unexpected talent for this game.He can really climb, using his now larger shoulder muscles he conducts a 'doggy pull-up' and can get his fit body up that tree and acquire his tree-branch- perched Frisbee time and time again. We play this tree game several times a week and he just can't wait to get out the back door when he sees me pick up that old Frisbee disc.
My dog's confidence has improved and his mental state is far happier as is evident when we meet new or unfamiliar dogs. He is sure of himself and no longer becomes instantly submissive. He is able to hold his ground and do some of his own sniffing and dominance displays in a wolf-like passive, yet assertive manner, you know, like the big boys do! Now that he has found himself, I expect he will be dating soon and I will have to start considering an adequate mate for my big strong agile AKC Golden Retriever Dog!
WHAT YOU THINK REALLY DOES MATTER!
Have you ever tried to teach your dog to play a unique game or do a unique trick?
More tree climbing dog [click thumbnails to enlarge images]Click thumbnail to view full-size
- Being able to gain the confidence to get the disc was an important step. Starting out with it positioned low enough so he could stand and reach it, convinces the dog he can possibly go even higher...and he does! Because he can see the disc, he is already thinking through how to get it out of the tree. Make sure his attention is geared around the fact that this is his object, and he has the right to retrieve it from the tree.
- As the disc is placed higher in the tree, he realizes it is okay for him to go after the Frisbee more assertively, as this is just part of the game. Big rewards for the first few times are in order, the idea is to start to build his desire to play along. If he knows that getting the Frisbee out of the tree means he can play with it on is own terms for a few minutes, his motivation will grow.
At first Kal wasn't quite sure how the game was supposed to work, so patience when first teaching your dog the game is really important. Any negative reaction can hinder the dog's learning desires and also creates a bad experience for you both. Manage the first training sessions with respect, and your dog will learn much quicker, and probably have far more fun playing the tree climbing game overall.
[click thumbnails to enlarge images]Click thumbnail to view full-size
Pulling the disc out of the tree from the lower position gives the dog a boost in believing he can accomplish the task.
A bit of a shoulder work-out is required to get the disc down from this higher position. He did a great job! Building the muscles also increases the testosterone content, making the dog "feel" more able and confident.
As the training continued, I saw day after day how much Kal grew in strength as well as his ability. It was pretty amazing just how quickly a K9 develops muscle mass when put to the task. I did increase his protein intake, as amino acids are very important to muscle growth, and real meat offers the highest amount of any food. When increasing the exercise a dog has on a daily basis, remember to also increase his protein intake. Many specialty dog foods are formulated for the athletic dog. These should be the kind of foods you feed your dog when taking on a regular high-energy regiment. His diet is just as important as the exercise itself!
Below you will find a really cool video on getting and keeping a dogs attention during training or any other reason. You will also find several pictures showing you the progression of the tree climbing game and Kal got better on each new training day.