View Full Version : training cavaliers

22nd January 2007, 05:29 PM
I just wondered whether any of you have found it difficult to train your cavaliers to do particular things and whether they're particularly good at others.

We have been going to training regularly and Scampi is very distractable, and refuses point blank to go in to a 'down' at training. Sometimes when I think she's got the hang of something, and I try the same trick a few days later, she looks at me completely blankly as if to say, 'you can't POSSIBLY expect me to know what that means'! Perhaps it's her youth?!

What do you reckon?

22nd January 2007, 05:36 PM
Yes, I would say it is the age. 19 weeks is developmentally like a two year old child-- good luck getting them to do anything they don't want to do.
If she bonds to you there won't be anything she won't do to make you happy. That makes training MUCH easier. I think it is one reason why negative training methods don't work as well with cavaliers.

22nd January 2007, 05:41 PM
Down I always found the hardest and had to do it for practice for ages - and reinforce for yrs. I was taught to raise my hand straight over my head and say down. If she didnt immediately respond (this was after the easy sit command), too keep my hand up but bend down with a treat in my other hand and hold in front of her nose as i lowered it to the ground. Sometimes it was necessary to give a gentle pull on the leash. It was like they always were saying hey I sat but I am not bowing!

22nd January 2007, 06:08 PM
I do think that age has something to do with it, but there is a lovely stubborness about cavaliers as well. Wesley (3 years old) still likes to pretend that he has no idea what I am talking about, gives me this precious little head tilt and does the exact opposite.
This is especially true when he jumps onto the bed, and I tell him "off". He will roll over on his back, wag his tail like crazy and just moan like he is sayng "oh come on mom!!!! Puuuu-lease le me stay??!!" Or when I am asking him to sit before I let him out of the kitchen. He just stares with a blank look and waits for me to give in out of frustration. :roll:

22nd January 2007, 06:23 PM
Yep, lol Our Charley never figured out "come", not for all of his 14+ years!

He'd just look at you, then look away.....he might come and he might not!!:lol: :lol:

Sometimes, they seem to consider instructions to be suggestions. ;D

22nd January 2007, 10:00 PM
Kingston knows the "down" command perfectly, but that doesn't mean he likes to do it! He usually tries to cheat by laying down and then popping right back up again. I think some Cavs are just excitable and the "down" position is too submissive for them.

22nd January 2007, 11:18 PM
Ollie does down quite well.. depending on his mood :roll: :lol: Sometimes I tell him to sit and he will sit but slide right down into a down. When I try to "Shake" his paw he just lies down and usually tries to bite my hand :x Puppies! Lol

23rd January 2007, 12:39 AM
It's easier if you can make the command part of your routine whichis harder with 'down'. Holly though caught on very quicky; Amber finds 'down' harder which is funny as she's the more submissive of the two. I don't think I tried doing serious training with holly though (beyond sit, come etc) until she was nine months or so.

23rd January 2007, 01:44 AM
A down position would not be more submissive than a sit or any other command obeyed. If a cavalier won't stay down, it is because it isn't understanding what is wanted, and our own lack of conveying a clear message, hence the dog will tend to pop back up. Unfortunately the very subtle and complex issues of dominance and submission and the language associated with this area of dog behaviour has been appallingly oversimplified by the popular TV trainers in particular and many books, and carried into areas it just doesn't belong, IMHO. The more I watch professinal trainers work with dogs, the more I feel this is true, to the detriment of our relationships with dogs. I think a lot of dogs would be happier and be trained faster and better if we all simply dropped the whole notion of dominance and submission from our brains and vocabularies and left them where they belong, with the canid scientists. :)

Dog trainers will always say it isn't the dog that needs training, its the owner. It actually takes a lot of work to learn how to communicate effectively with your dog -- all of us send mixed and confusing messages so frequently -- something I have gradually realised over time even when I was SURE I wasn't (but I hang around too many professional trainers for this pass unnoticed! :lol:).

Often we are not consistent in our tone of voice, even in what we say; we repeat commands several times so that 'sit' means nothing to a dog; it is waiting for a 'meaningful' command like 'sitsitsitSIT!' which WE have taught the dog is the 'real' command through our own impatience and cluttered way of communicating.

I actually think it is easier in many ways to train a deaf dog as we are forced to give a single very clear hand signal rather than out idle chatter which must really confuse dogs. Plus we often do a range of body movements with a spoken command, not a consistent movement, and the dog can get confused by those -- dogs tend to watch body language more than listen for commands.

I've actually found cavaliers, including a deaf older cavalier, really easy to train. They seem to always love to do anything that is fun and rewarding (hence why correction based training tends to defeat a cavalier and intimidate, not promote learning). But it is one thing to get the initial vbasic command across -- and quite another to have this elicit a consistent and reliable response, especially a down stay, which takes ages to build up to longer and longer downs. You need to work in one then 5 then 10 second increments and onwards tilyou can get a downsty until released. Hard work!

If a cavalier seems really stubborn, owners might want to might check its hearing, especially in any dog over about 5. Also try reteaching commands along with a hand signal and see if the hand signal doesn't work far better. :)

23rd January 2007, 01:54 AM
Well said Karlin. I think clear communication is the reason that clicker training works so well. It is a clearer way to tell the dog "correct and a treat is going to follow." We always train with a hand signal first (started when we had a deaf dog). It is only after the dog has a clear understanding of the behavior that we even add an oral command. Our dogs don't speak English right away :lol: :lol: . Also, young pups have focus issues and will learn best in very short sessions repeated several times a day. Your pup is still very young at 19 wks.

23rd January 2007, 12:54 PM
I agree with Karlin... although Woody will responsed to "Dinner" anyway I said it - I will even mouth it and he knows.... :D