ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

Proofing Trained Behaviors

Updated on January 5, 2018
newfclub profile image

The Newfoundland Club of America—responsible for the preservation, protection and welfare of the Newfoundland Dog in America since 1930.

water and draft work with Newfoundlands
water and draft work with Newfoundlands

Where the Rubber Meets the Road

Problem solving to help dog trainers work through difficulties after activities are learned. Once the basics are understood every dog goes through a learning period where they test the parameters of each exercise. Proofing makes sure that your dog knows what is expected for his contributions to the working team.

By Cheryl Dondino, originally published in NewfTide 2000, reprinted with permission.

obedience work
obedience work

A lot has been written about training methods used to teach a dog a new command, skill or exercise. People have discussed whether to use food, force, praise, withhold praise, etc. to get a dog to learn something. With puppies we talk more about how to teach the puppy to want to do things for you and to want to play the games we create.

Less is said about what happens when the dog knows a command or an exercise, and then decides not to obey on a given day. At some point, when your Newfy fully understands how to hold his bumper coming out of the water, where heel position is off leash, how to turn a corner with the cart, how to come quickly when you call him to you from playing during free time, he will turn a deaf ear to your commands. This usually happens when the treats become more random, or maybe when the leash comes off. I actually prefer not to enter a test or trial until we reach the point where this happens and then work through it. This is where the rubber meets the road. It is a test of your dog's understanding of his role in relationship to you as his pack leader. It also sets the stage for how he (and you) will act on other exercises when you get to this point.

Draft Work
Draft Work

How you respond to his first bout of stubbornness (and any that follow) on exercises when you are positive he knows what he is supposed to do will affect how much farther you can go together. This is true not only about the individual exercise, but also whether you can take your teamwork to another level or not on the whole as well as in other areas. Those of us who train have heard it all and have also been tempted to use it all on our own dogs. "He can't follow or do this today because; so I won't insist he do it."

We make excuses for our dogs verbally, and also by our own nonverbal responses. An owner might walk slower because his dog has decided to lag because there aren't constant treats or pats on the leg being offered, he might go out and get the cushion for his dog because he isn't "in to" getting it today; he's tired, he's bored easily, someone else is using a bumper he likes better next to us, he can't stop when I command him to when pulling a cart today because he was distracted so I have to stop him eventually with my body. All these are rationalizations we use to avoid confrontation with our trained dog. We don't want to push back when they give us their first stubborn, "I won't do it until you bribe me" day. Sometimes we hold entire conversations with our dogs concerning their lack of follow through on a command, forgetting that dogs aren't capable of reasoning or active discussion on the topic at hand. This is a turning point in your relationship when it happens.

Training Teamwork
Training Teamwork

Again, I'm not talking about teaching a dog something new, or even reinforcing until he has it down pat. I'm talking about what happens when the dog tells us for the first time that he won't do something he knows very well how to do. There are as many ways of getting a dog's attention and then insisting he follow through as there are teaching methods for new exercises. Some are harsh and end up damaging the dog's trust in his owner. Some are ineffective because they border on going back to the bribe stage to avoid the issue, or might be based on "begging" the dog to obey.

My own opinion is that, the least amount of force to get the job done is the best way to handle stubbornness; but that the dog must give you effort towards compliance with the command. Sometimes I stop the dog, get refocused and then insist on the follow-through. Sometimes it seems to me that the dog is having a mental lapse as far as what to do. In that case, I work the command with the dog and then insist he do it a second time himself, following instructions in response to my command so that he is compliant with my commands. It's that "I'll do it with you if you need my help, more than one time, if necessary; I'm there for you; but now you need to do it on your own this one time" way of responding to the problem.

Repetition and Rewards
Repetition and Rewards

We don't do our dogs any favors when we aren't consistent about whether they need to obey. This is true whether or not we are working towards a title with our dog; and especially true concerning manners training. Dogs that don't need to obey us until we start yelling, give the sixth command, get out the bribes, count to three (ever hear parents threaten their children using the counting to three method?), or just give up are not happy dogs who know their place in our homes or in the homes of our friends or when taking part in a club activity. Dogs who are in charge by being the one to decide whether a command you have given them needs to obeyed now or ever on any given day cannot be counted on for their consistency and miss out on the beauty of a partnership with you and a long journey of mutually satisfying work with you.

Think about this when you get to the proofing stage in your home, or in working towards a working event. Try to catch yourself before making excuses and concentrate on solving the challenge you are facing . . . together . . . with the highest possible standard your intelligent Newfoundland is capable of reaching . . . as a team.

© 2012 Newfoundland Club of America


Submit a Comment

No comments yet.


This website uses cookies

As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at:

Show Details
HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the or domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)
ClickscoThis is a data management platform studying reader behavior (Privacy Policy)