White Lead Skills
Here I will go through each white lead skill and explain what it is and what the test looks like.
In the first level we will teach you about different tools (collars, leashes, harnesses), their proper use, and their pros and cons. We will also teach you how to hold and use a leash in emergency situations to keep you, your dog, and the people and animals around you safe.
Test: After reading the booklet you will have a short guided conversation with your instructor demonstrating that you understand the material.
Yes and No are two very simple signals. They are the beginning of every other signal you will teach. Yes means what you are doing may lead to a reinforcer. No means what you are doing will not lead to a reinforcer.
Test: Offer the dog a treat signaling "yes". The dog should take it. Offer the dog a treat signaling "no". The dog should refuse the treat. After 3 seconds signal "yes" and allow the dog to take the food.
Being able to touch and manipulate your dog by hand is critical to your dog's happiness and safety. When you train many other species that is where you start. You will learn a lot about your dog doing this. Where they like being touched, how they like being touched, as well as where and how they don't. Begin just by stroking your dog down their back. Notice how long slow strokes will affect them differently than short fast strokes.
Test: Handler pets dog all over body, opens mouth, holds mouth shut, pulls tail and rolls dog over or picks them up.
Luring is a very versatile training technique, it simply means getting your dog to follow food with their nose. Don't let that fool you though, it can be much trickier than it seems.
Test: Demonstrate luring
One of the big differences between our training and a lot of other pet dog training out there is that we don’t teach a “stay” signal. Sit means sit, down means down, and stand means stand. It is that simple. The dog must never leave those positions until you give them another signal. This means don’t move from this position, even if something distracts you. Have your dog on lead and ask them to sit, when they sit, take a treat and throw it off to the side far enough away that the dog can’t get to it, but not so far that it isn’t tempting. As soon as your dog gets up say “no”. Remember that “no” is not a reprimand, or punishment (well in the operant conditioning sense it is, see the section on learning theory for more info on this), it is information. Also, be careful not to jerk the leash then this happens, let the dog reach the end of the leash on their own. If you are not good at controlling your hands then tie your dog to a tree or post. if your timing was good you dog will have stopped and returned to sitting. Tell your dog good, but don’t give them a treat. Instead throw another treat. Repeat this process until your dog doesn’t get up from the sit to chase the treat (depending on the dog and your timing this may take a lot of treats!). When your dog stays seated mark it with “yes” and give them a treat. You can also release them to the treat you threw, and I recommend alternating between releasing them and reinforcing them from your hand.
Test: Dog is instructed to sit. A piece of food or toy is then thrown by the handler a short distance away. Dog must remain in position.
The first step of teaching a recall is to teach the dog to enjoy being caught. It doesn't matter if your dog is willing to come to you from a mile away, across distractions, if you cannot catch them once they get to you. So the first step of teaching a recall is to teach the dog to accept you taking hold of their collar.
Test: Dog is allowed to wander away from the handler. The dog is then signaled to come, sit in front, handler reaches out and takes the dog's collar, unclips the Lead and clips a second Lead.
Leading is about communication and engagement. Learning how to follow the handler can be very different and challenging for a dog. In order to communicate using the leash you have to be relaxed. you cannot tense your wrist, elbow, or shoulder.
Test: A champagne flute of water is to be held in the hand of the handler that is handling the leash. The handler then leads the dog to the designated spot. if water drops below a certain level the test is considered failed.
When greeting people, the main thing most people would like is that the dog doesn't interact with them unless invited to do so. They also appreciate it if our dogs were calmly sitting or lying down. So, greeting behavior is essentially a stay. Remain in position and don't be distracted until given another signal. The key to being a well mannered dog is to not impose on people.
Test: Dog in sit, someone approaches, dog must remain in a sit while owners talk and shake hands.
Building up your dog's confidence will have a huge impact on their socialization and training in general. By building their physical confidence your dog will be more ready to try new things and try again after failure (mental and emotional confidence).
The basic physical tasks to ask your dog to learn are 1) to jump over things, or from obstacle to obstacle, 2) crawl under objects, and 3) climb up things. I highly recommend training with a trainer for these things. They can help you build your dog's confidence and troubleshoot any problems you might face. A good agility trainer is the way to go.
Test: Jump over an obstacle, crawl under an obstacle, and Climb up an obstacle
Like muzzle training, crate training is stress relieving tool. Crates keep dogs safe in a variety of situations and it is beneficial for every dog to learn to not just tolerate being in one, but enjoy being in one.
Test: Send your dog to a crate, kennel or car from 6 ft away.
This skill is all about understanding what your dog was bred for. All dog's were originally bred to use their instincts to help us in some way. Whether it is hunting, herding, or protecting us.
Test: Test your dog's aptitude in a working dog sport