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"?
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?
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.
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.
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.
Objectives: Using a crate is important for many reasons. House training, boarding, possible veterinarian visits where they are staying hours or overnight, safety in the house (puppies will try and chew wires and all sorts of things left to their own devices), just having a shower without worrying about what puppy is getting into, and separating out from company that may be afraid of dogs, in general. The objective is to create a peaceful place where your puppy or dog knows they are safe and comfortable to rest and relax.
Equipment: Crate, flat collar on dog (so you have some hold on him putting him in or out), toys placed in the crate already, and a lot of patience. You don't want your puppy to see you getting frustrated. This is all a learning experience for them.
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.