Training Tips

Who is Training Who?

Training is a two-way street: Buddy is just as involved in training you as you are in trying to train him. The trouble is that Buddy is already a genius at training you, a skill with which he was born. Put another way, a dog comes into the world knowing what is to his advantage and what isnt, and hell do whatever he can to get what he wants. You, on the other hand, have to discover the skills of training him, just as we had to.

One of these skills is figuring out how to recognize when youre inadvertently rewarding behaviors you may not want to reinforce. Begging at the dinner table is a good example. When Buddy begs at the table and you slip him some food, he is training you to feed him from the table. You need to ask yourself, Is this a behavior I want to encourage? If the answer is no, then stop doing it, no matter what.

Most dogs eventually ignore commands that dont lead to tangible consequences. When he responds to a command, reward him by praising him. If he chooses not to respond to a command he has been taught, correct him.

Now look at another situation: Buddy has taken himself for an unauthorized walk through the neighborhood. Youre late for an appointment but dont want to leave with Buddy out on the streets. You frantically call and call. Finally, Buddy makes an appearance, happily sauntering up to you. You, on the other hand, are fit to be tied, and you let him know your displeasure in no uncertain terms by giving him a thorough scolding. You now need to ask yourself, Is this the kind of greeting that will make Buddy want to come to me? If the answer is no, then stop doing it, no matter what.

Here are two examples of how your dog is training you:

1. Buddy drops his ball in your lap while youre watching television and you throw it for him.

2. Buddy nudges or paws your elbow when youre sitting on the couch and you pet him.

Buddy has trained you well. Is there anything wrong with that? Not at all, provided you can tell him to go lie down when you dont feel like throwing the ball or petting him.

Knowing Your Attitude

One of the most important aspects of training is your attitude toward your dog. During training, you want to maintain a friendly and positive attitude. For many people, maintaining this attitude can be enormously difficult because frequently they dont start to think about training until Buddy has become an uncontrollable nuisance. Hes no longer cute and cuddly, he has become incredibly rambunctious, everything he does is wrong, and he certainly doesnt listen.

Don't train your dog when you're irritable or tired. You want training to be a positive experience for your dog. If you ever get frustrated during training, stop and come back to it at another time. When youre frustrated, your communications consist of no, bad dog, how could you do this, and get out and stay out. Youre unhappy and Buddy is unhappy because youre unhappy.

A better approach is to train him with firm kindness so both of you can be happy. An unfriendly or hostile approach doesnt gain you your dogs cooperation and will needlessly prolong the training process. When you become frustrated or angry, the dog becomes anxious and nervous, and is unable to learn. When you feel that youre becoming a little irritable, stop training and come back to it in a better frame of mind. You want training to be a positive experience for Buddy (and you).

This excerpt is from Dog Training for Dummies by Jack and Wendy Volhard.




Homework- Super Puppy


Welcome! Here are the weekly handouts and my advice for many of the exercises in Super Puppy class. You and your dog will get out of it what you put into it. Practice what you've learned every day but keep it fun. Turn training into a game. Ask your dog for something (such as a sit or down) before giving something that he or she wants, such as a game of tug, dinner, a ride in the car, a chance to go outside, some time on the sofa with you, etc. Think of more things your dog likes and values and use them as rewards.

I am very happy to have you in class!

Mindy Cox.

Here are some training tips:
  • Remember to keep training fun for you and your dog and stop before your dog wants to. Keep your dog happy and confident.
  • Catch and reward your dog being successful and stay positive. Ignore the times your dog is unsuccessful.
  • Rewarding positive behavior will build trust and improve your relationship. Punishment erodes the relationship and in some cases may cause aggression.
  • Make a list of what your dog values most (types of food rewards, play, petting, ride in the car, etc.) so you know how to reward.
  • Begin training at home in an environment that is not distracting. As your dog learns the exercise, slowly increase the level of distractions.
  • Break training into small steps.
  • Plan ahead. Have your tools ready before you begin (such as clicker and treats).
  • Reinforce highly to maintain a positive attitude.
  • Multiple short sessions are better than one long session (boring and tiring!). There are moments of training opportunities all during the day.
  • Play and training should be indistinguishable to your dog. They both should be fun!
  • Don't be afraid to act silly sometimes. Your dog will enjoy your playful attitude.
  • Continue to socialize your dog by exposing him or her to new, positive experiences.
  • Be sure your dog gets lots of exercise and environmental enrichment. A tired dog is a happy dog!
The AKC S.T.A.R. Puppy Program is designed to get owners and their puppies off to a good start. Upon passing the test, you'll get an application to send to AKC® for enrollment in the AKC S.T.A.R. Puppy Program. It's the young dog version of the Canine Good Citizen test. We will do some of the test items in class. Click here to find more info.

The class handouts will help you remember what we did in class and help you to practice at home. Keep playing games that increase focus and attentions such as the Name Game, Find It and Watch. Also be sure to reward your dog when he or she offers you attention without you having to ask. When you ask your dog for a stay, be sure to use the release word you have chosen; it's not ok if your dog makes the decision when to get up. Maintain your criteria!

How awesome your dog behaves and responds is totally up to you. The amount of motivation, ambition, and standards you have will reflect in your dog's level of training and attention to you. We will continue to learn a lot over the course of the class. You will be amazed how much your dog can learn.

Please keep me informed if you have any questions or I am not covering the things you are most interested in. I am here to serve you. If you need to reach me before class, please call 561-427-6700. Please let me know by phone or email when you can't attend.

Name Game

Find It

Clicker Training

Clicker Fundamentals

Rewards List

Reinforcement and Use of Rewards

Getting Focused Attention

Attention Training and Name Recognition

Capturing Your Dog's Focus

Getting Your Dog to Come

Exercise Finished! Release Cues

Watch Me

Targeting- a Fun Game

Basic Obedience Skills

Loose Leash Walking

Go to Your Mat

Self Control Games

Luring Since this is not your puppy's first class, by now you should not be using a treat to lure into a position. If you still are, please phase it out quickly. Work on moving into all six positions (sit from down and stand; down from sit and stand; stand from sit and down) without your lure.

Keep track of your pet's progress so you will know if you are going too fast or if you can add in more challenges. If your dog does an exercise correctly 5 out of 5 times you can make it slightly more difficult. If he or she is right 3 or 4 out of 5 times, keep doing what you're doing until it's close to perfect. If your dog is only correct one or two out of five times, you need to make the exercise easier. Always strive to keep your dog successful so training stays fun and motivating.
Here are exercises to work on:

Ready...ready...Go! game Hold your dog back with a hand on his chest, collar or harness; then release him to some treats that are several feet away. When the treats are consumed, call your dog back to you and reward that. This should be high energy and fun. You can also release to a toy and play a game of tug (be sure you get to the toy quickly so that your dog does not play keep away). When your dog gets good at this, ask for a behavior that is on a verbal cue such as sit, down, paw, etc., before you release him to the treats. This game can be a powerful motivator and it's great to teach your puppy to listen even under times of high arousal.

Tips if things don't go as planned:
1. They don’t perform the behavior correctly and try to get the food or toy regardless, jump ahead and beat them to it (make it a bit of a competition!)
2. They don’t perform the behavior and look a little like they are stuck on the spot, like the lights are on but nobody is home. This is because they are too aroused (excited) to be able to function at that level. Calmly stroke them on the side, get them moving a little to stop the stickiness and try again now that their arousal levels are a little lower.
3. They don’t perform the behavior correctly and manage to beat you to the toy. What do you think you should do? Laugh about it - it’s no big deal and you know for next time to change things up.

Play this with all kinds of rewards, all kinds of cues and higher and higher excitement levels to help teach the concept of listening no matter how exciting the environment is!

Advanced Attention game: Show dog treat in hand, stretch arm out to side. Do it with offered attention: wait until dog looks at handler; to begin with click as soon as you get an eye flick to your face. As he gets the idea of this exercise you can make it harder by clicking with longer attention to you.

Build: Nothing In Life Is Free

Continue to work on It's Your Choice: The Game of Self Control

Shape, Targe, Lure. What's the Difference?

Keep practicing and learning. Continue to challenge you and your dog with new skills. Take another class. How about Focus Foundation, Rally, Nose Work, Play & Learn or Puppy/Adolescent Agility?

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