Master Dog Training Tips and Tricks: Getting your dog to stand still in the middle of a shake


One of the most annoying problems anyone who photographs dogs has to deal with is trying to capture them not looking insane when shaking water off. All my previous attempts have met with failure. Unfortunately, the only solution to obtain this essential behavior is years of precision training. You can't be impatient with this. It comes easily to no dog, not even a highly-qualified obedience champion of Roo's caliber. It has taken five years of daily swims and lengthy photo sessions utilizing sophisticated equipment.

The first rule is that you can never miss a single day of training. If you do, you will lose all the benefit of previous sessions. This trick is just too hard. The mind of a dog can not be allowed to drift too far from the goal. Sub-freezing temperatures, hurricanes, it doesn't matter. You have to drill the dog on this every day.

The top photo illustrates the usual shaking dog photograph. Anyone can take that shot. The second photograph, however, is a perfect example of the success you can expect once you apply Master Dog Training Techniques, an encylclopedia-style series of volumes numbering the thousands of pages which I plan to compile. Space doesn't permit sharing with you the exact process by which I have been able to stop Roo in mid-shake in order to achieve this milestone in dog training (the internet is just not big enough), so for the moment suffice it to say that it is a lengthy positive reinforcement regimen. The dog must be required to go on lengthy hikes and be heated up by being allowed to pretend they have lost their minds as they chase prey, dig holes, tear trees out by the roots, disappear over the horizon for half an hour at a time and so on. 

Then you must make sure your dog never enters the water until commanded to do so. Finding the appropriate commands is tricky because you must be a master of dog psychology, anticipating every possible reaction of the finely-tuned and complex mind of a dog. What works for me is, "Roo, I said don't go in the water!" which ensures that she will run in at full tilt.

Of all the questions received here at TDITC World Headquarters, this has to be the among the top two or three. Hopefully this will encourage those of you who might be about to give up on teaching your dog to hold still in mid-shake so you can get your shot to keep trying. Don't give up. It can be done.