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.
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.
This is just the beginning of the spin trick. There are more steps later on to have the puppy or dog doing this on their own for the verbal only or signal only command.
Equipment needed: dog or puppy, six foot leash, flat collar that does not come off of head, treats, place to sit or kneel down (can be done standing too, but usually you need to start lower down. NOTE: TREATS SHOULD BE SMALL FOR PUPPIES AND NOT THAT BIG FOR DOGS EITHER. THEIR KIBBLE CAN BE USED FOR THIS.
STEP 1: Hold handle of leash in one hand.
STEP 2: Put treat in the other hand.
STEP 3: Make sure you have the puppy fairly close to you on the leash.
STEP 4: Place the treat close to or right on the puppies nose if needed in a closed hand.
STEP 5: Then lure with your hand so the puppy's head turns to start. Don't expect more than a head turn at first. If they do go all around with their body at first, then great! The second time they may not. Just be patient with the puppy or dog at first, as they do not understand exactly what we want yet. This is the teaching or showing phase of training.
STEP 6: When they turn their head, say "good boy" or "good girl" (notice we are not giving a command at this point), and then open your hand so they can take the food.
STEP 7: Repeat for about 15 repetitions. Young puppies should only be trained for a short period of time, and ideally you want them wanting more at the end.
NOTE: If they start moving their body with the food on the first session, that is great but it might not happen. Do not push the puppy (or dog) too fast. Stay slow and steady and the exercise will perform better in the long run. In the next session, you may want the dog to do a complete spin before getting the treat. When that starts happening consistently, then you can use the command "spin" or "good spin" (if you are using a marker system) when the dog or puppy completes the spin.
In the past (before I knew how to train my dogs and before I even had an inkling of dog training), down hill skiing on vacation was the most relaxing thing for me. This was true even though I was a $hit skier, and had to take lessons every time to improve myself. I feel like it is the same reason that training dogs (and just hanging with them too) relaxes me. FIRST of all you have a goal to reach. SECOND to reach the goal you need skills and a plan to obtain those skills and THIRD if you don't concentrate on that, you are going to fall off the mountain! 😂 Okay, maybe it is just that you don't get down the mountain the way you wanted OR you get hurt on the way there (by your own self).
So the first time I went skiing with my husband on vacation, I took for granted that you put on the skis and magically down the mountain you went. I mean I had skated when I was thirteen, right? Thankfully, we did have a ski instructor who came with us (and somehow ignored all the obvious signs that I had no idea what I was doing----which included riding up in sub zero weather holding onto my gloves instead of having them on---sliding backwards on my skis before getting onto the lift). Long story short, we got down several hours later, by the instructor (from the top of the mountain mind you), skiing backwards while I held onto his ski poles in front of him. Clearly mad skills HE had and strength. I needed to start on the bunny hill first, and then the advanced bunny hill, and so on before you even think of starting at the top of the mountain.
Pandemic Day 17's dog training tip: Bring you and your dog to the bunny slopes first. More of that soon, since I have some time on my hands.
Follow Mannerly Mutts Dog Training's Facebook page for tips on how to handle the bunny slope.
Question from a pet dog owner and training client:
Since you asked for questions, here is one that may not be common. Sally is obsessed with animals she sees on tv. She will charge the screen and bark. I'm afraid she will knock it over! She wears the ecollar and I stim her and say, "No" or "Get Away".
She sits in place and stares at the screen. I stim her again and she either scooches backward toward me or comes and sits on my feet. I want her to learn to ignore the tv and to do something like "place" on the couch. We used to enjoy Animal Planet, Westerns, hunting shows, lol! Now it is the Dreaded Toyota Dog Days commercial! She has memorized the music and comes running after two notes!
When I am out and about a common question that comes up is "how do I stop my dog from barking?". As with just about any training question, this is not something that can be answered for their particular dog and situation in the line of a grocery store. I realize that even though many dog owners have been living with this problem (sometimes for years), they think I know a 10 second secret that I can share. There are no "magic wands" in any dog training (highlighted this because management and avoidance are different and separate issues) issue. This does not mean the solution is hard, but it is a situation in which training and communication are required. Therefore, you need to teach your dog when and how to stop barking, and what the cue is that communications the need to stop.
Novice is the first level of the American Kennel Club's obedience trials. Three different judges must at least qualify a team with a score of 170 or higher in order for the participants to move onto the next levels, if they would like to. You can move onto open and utility trials after that. When people see these dogs in the ring, they think it's all about "pretty walking". It's actually about a lot more than that. Here are some dog training obedience exercises from the Novice trials, and their real life applications.
Corrections are ways to improve communication in training and make corrections for training items that are either lacking precision and/or behavioral problems that need to be addressed. Corrections are not the same as punishment (either in the general public understanding which refers to a reaction after a negative event or the more scientific definition of punishment, meaning reducing behavior only or in other words does not mean physical harm in the scientific definition).
For about the fist six months of a puppies life, training goes along usually with minimal corrections (like no, trading items, or redirection to something more appropriate) and punishment might be a simple crate time out. Hopefully you have been doing formal training during this point, which does have less expectation and precision than one would have of a more mature dog going through training.
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.