In the last blog, we discussed the place command. The stay command, specifically, is a command that you can is part of a sit, down, or stand command. This is where you want your dog to stay in a certain position anywhere that you are.
There is a quote passed around by many professional dog trainers "What your dog can't do on leash, they can't do off leash". Leashes are very important pieces of dog training equipment, but they aren't talked about that much in pet dog training circles. They really deserve our respect, because leashes are a life line to a dog in training, who will be enjoying some off leash freedom some day beyond confined areas (fences, walls of a building, and so on).
Deciding that a puppy or dog is going to join your family is an exciting time. A family discussion or personal decision has been made. A prospective dog or puppy owner has many dreams and expectations for their new companion before they even arrive. Some of these expectations can be entirely reasonable, and some of these expectations might be unreasonable. The start to finding your new dog or puppy should come with in depth thoughts on what those are, and what your lifestyle is like now.
READ MORE BY CLICKING THE LINK TO THE RIGHT.
Leashes are a dog's safety net and life line for much of their lives. Many public places are bound by the leash laws of their municipal government. Also, if your property does not have a fence and they are not off leash trained, generally if your dog leaves your property then YOU have probably violated a leash law.
Many owners hold the leash casually, in a way that can harm the human, and in a way that can cause the dog to be free where they should not be and where it is dangerous. The topic of our blog today, is the best ways to hold a leash for the safety of both the dog and the dog owner.
Today I am going to go over the very commonly used practices of treat training used with luring to train your dog. Most of this training falls under the category of positive reinforcement. That is the practice of adding something to increase the likely hood of a behavior. In this case, we are talking about food rewards.
CONSIDERATIONS WHEN TRAINING WITH FOOD:
Most puppy training starts with food training. Puppies are maturing, and do not have the focus of an adult dog. They are discovering the world with their paws, nose, eyes, and mouth. Therefore, humans need a good reward method to catch their attention for any period of time.
Adult dogs will have more maturity and focus (usually). Therefore, the first section does not necessarily apply to them. Although, these are things you may want to consider, especially if your adult dog seems at all flat when training. Both young and old dogs need a distraction free place to start learning at first.
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.
Calming or relaxation exercises benefit all dogs, unless you have the rare very relaxed dog in any situation. In the majority of dog or puppies though, learning to relax is a very important skill. It helps those dogs of sound temperament, it helps dogs with behavioral problems, it helps young puppies, and it helps those older adults not exposed to the concept of self chilling.
I always hope to influence very young puppies with these exercises, but you don't always get that lucky. Many years ago, I myself had not discovered the very value benefit to my dogs of doing these. I discovered the value, when trying to figure out how to calm my dog, Jackie, before we got into the ring to do obedience and earn his Companion Dog title. This was the key to his success in that area, but this is also the key to a well rounded, confident dog, who has been exposed to many stimulus's that get most dogs all riled up, and cause dog owners many unneeded problems. These exercises are worth the time and the effort. Some may be very boring, but they are enormously valuable. I would not do them myself it they were not.
I am not going to talk about head halties or harnesses in this article. I consider them management equipment and not training equipment. These types of equipment are designed to keep the pressure on the dog at all times, and not allow for decision-making ability on the part of the dog. There are definite uses for them both behaviorally and for the safety of the owner. We will be going over those in a separate blog post.
The following are all equipment that are used in a training program with other many other tools and methods. This is a small but important parts of training that is combined with handler confidence, body position, praise, rewards, consistency (arguably the most important tool), vocal tone, motivation (as in what does your dog naturally like to do, and use it) and training plan. None of these operate well without the others. Reading your dog and their response to tools and stimuli is also important. Have a trainer handy to walk you through whether your dog will not work well on the collar, or are just going through common avoidance antics. This is often hard for a first time dog owner/trainer to judge. You also need someone to help you fit these properly. None of these should be too loose, and the metal training link collar should have about two inches of extra link in it (depending on the size of your dog of course, this is the rule for most medium and large dogs—smaller dogs need much less slack as well their necks are teeny tiny). Generally, these tools and some training methods are used after a dog has become approximately six months of age.
Most dog owners, especially first time dog owners, do not have a real understanding of what dog training is. How could they? This is not something taught to us in most schools, and dogs are a totally different species than we are. The building blocks of dog training are very important, and it is the understanding of these and why they are used that confuse most dog owners.
The first thing you should know is dog training is a process. There are many steps, and if you don't step off on the right foot in the first place, you will make your self a lot of unnecessary work later or just give up in frustration at a point where you could have excelled. This blog seeks to give you some insights to understand the bones of the process in hopes that when you start training you will continue on to a very enjoyable life for you and your dog with a fabulous working relationship.
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.