Many dog owners, who have trained their dogs, do not realize the tools for working on many dog behaviors that are problems to us are the training commands themselves. The ability to use these commands repetitively in different situations can help build the types of reactions that dog owners prefer from their dogs in many situations.
Patterns, as I define them in dog training and behavior modification, are manufactured predictable events. That is they are a sequence of steps that become predictable with repetition and consistency. Remember, canines do not share our human language. We can not tell them what is coming up, but our actions to create patterns and structure can place them on more predictable ground.
As humans we take this for granted for ourselves, but if you think about it, our every day patterns and structure lend to the feeling of safety and security for human children and adults alike. Of course we can talk to each other should an unanticipated event comes up. Can you imagine how scary some events are to dogs who do not have that sort of heads up? We can make everything smooth sailing (or smoother sailing anyway) by adding a little pattern and structure to certain parts of our canine's day.
Leon loved fetching as a wee young thing. We both learned about this skill together, and had a lot of fun doing it.
What do I mean by your dog's "bliss"?
Engagement in dog training is the ability to create a relationship with your dog where you are the reward. Engagement done well will have your dog insisting on continuing the activity with their owner. In other methods of training, there are some elements of this as well, but the engagement that I am talking about is much more. Engagement in dog training is more about play with their owner or handler to create that very strong bond and work ethic. As with anything, it can have it's pluses and minuses. I really enjoy this method, because I get to play with my dog and train. The thing that motivates me in this method, is seeing my dog have fun while we are doing it. Why do I also use other methods other than Engagement and Motivational methods? One reason is this is a bit slower process than some other methods in the shorter term. Sometimes if you really need to stop your dog from jumping on your elderly relatives, while including them in your family activities, you might want to take a faster course of action. Of course there are ways to control what you dog does by confining them more, but I like my dogs to have certain freedoms during the day, where this perhaps might not happen if I was only using this method. It takes longer not in time per day, but the progress to build to a goal in general will take more time. There are reasons to want to spend a longer period if time in training your dog. I will go over that at a later date.
Dog lovers know that a dog's physical appearance as far as size, hair length, hair color, ears shape, curly or flat coated, age, and so on. Dog's are also individuals, and these internal characteristics do not show on their outsides. These personality traits and temperaments can vary wildly from playful, wary, suspicious, defensive, resource guarding, driven, active, laid back, and so forth. Add to the mix that some dogs have some training or real life experiences that may be useful as a dog owner or trainer creates a training plan. Recently, one of our blogs went over why there are so many different methods, techniques, and tools that help a dog owner to train their dog.
A professional dog trainer will look at the dog you have right now (as best they can in the time they have) to determine the right path to start down. A dog owner who is honest with themselves can begin to assess this too. None of these traits determine how well a dog will be trained, but they do guide you to what ways will most likely efficiently and effectively train your dog to the best of your ability.
If you have ever looked into finding a complete dog training plan for your dog, you probably found a confusing amount of information out there. Some of one method's rules probably contradicted another's method rules.
Does this mean some people are using methods and training and that don't work? Why can some methods be so different, but still seem to get great results for the dog training team?
In general, training a dog involves teaching a command that can be understood by your dog using a verbal cue or signal. Unless you also know how to teach your dog to be focused, calm, and confident in certain situations, you may be constantly struggling, because you have missed another important piece of the puzzle.
That piece is behavior modification, which does not just apply to dogs with behavioral problems. This can also be for active dogs to learn how to chill in environments that might be exciting in order to do their work or focus on training with you.
A common question that I get asked as a dog trainer is "How long will it take to get my dog trained to do XYZ?" That question does not have any concrete answer, and of course it depends on a variety of factors. Age, temperament, owner commitment, behavioral challenges, and increasing distractions all change this answer. When I am training a dog here, I feel that I need at least 21 days of consistently working the dog on training commands and behavioral exercises to get a dog owner on their way to picking up where I left off easily (or easier). Training does not just happen in one day or in one environment. Dog training, as dog trainers understand it, when you have reliability of a command (and very dependent on whether you are talking about an adult dog or a puppy) without the need of going through much effort other than the verbal command at least four out of five times in various environments and distractions. That actually takes much more than three weeks if you want a full set of commands that can be worked in that way. It also depends on if this is a family's needs for their family dog, if this is a working dog, or if this is a sports and competing dog.
I don't know if most of the dog owning public is aware of the levels that we pass through when teaching a dog a certain command. Here are the four levels that I usually think of:
1) Demonstrate to the dog what you want him to do.You can do this by positioning or luring your dog into position. Dogs need to be shown what to do, because they don’t naturally know the things we take for granted that older dogs have already been taught. Obviously they don't understand our verbal cues, and need to be shown what they will correspond to in the future. In the Demonstration phase, the command is verbalized in conjunction with the luring or placing the dog into correct position.
Feedback is information that lets your dog know whether they are on the right track or not, depending on what you are doing with them. It is important that feedback is given at a well timed point to let them know in that moment if they are performing or working in the direction or task that you want. Ideally you want this feedback to be able to be given with some space in between you once you get going. Rewards and corrections are a type of feedback that is close up. Instead in this article, I am going to talk about equipment, the clicker, and verbal, your voice.
Author, Robin Rubin
Owner and Head Dog Trainer in Maine, Robin Katherine Rubin, started her Maine dog training business in September 2004. Our dog training facility is located in Southern Maine in York Beach and we help families enjoy their dogs more, making sure they listen reliably and resolving unwanted behaviors.