Play training focuses on the reward of play for engagement, enthusiasm, and motivation of the tasks, obedience, behavioral change, and relationship being formed. It sounds easy, right? The dog does this, and then we go and do that. The knowledge of the impending reward of continuing the game increases the likely hood of the behavior and/or performance that you want. In theory, it is easy. In practice, you can make mistakes that I would rather others avoid if possible.
On Sundays, I am going to try to blog and post (on our Facebook page) Shana's training progress. Normally I am training Shana because:
This fall though, we are taking a trip to Boston, and staying in a very fun dog friendly hotel across from Fenway Park. Shana has only been to a city a few times in her life. City distractions are very different than the distractions she sees in a small town (and some of those still can scare her or put her on defense drive). So now I have a specific goal that I am training for.
Do you find your dog to be timid or fearful around things that don't scare most other dogs? If you have also wondered about the reasons this can happen, there are a few as follows:
1) Puppies not socialized or handled by breeders. Usually these guys recover very well, but they may present as very fearful at the beginning.
2) Adult dogs that have grown up without proper socialization and exposure to the outside world.
3) Puppies that have experienced a traumatic or very scary experience during the fear stage.
4) Adult dogs that experienced Number 3 during the puppy fear stage, but their owners did not realize it or did not work with their dog in the meantime. Often owners might think something like this will pass, but for many dogs it just gets worse unless they are helped along the way.
5) Traumatic experience as an adult dog. (As an example my first dog got to experience a microburst at night with us one evening. All our screens on the windows blew in, and the power was instantly out. After that, Jazzabelle was very afraid of any thunder and wind storms, which we helped her with later.)
6) Incident that may have happened that you did not see happen.
7) It could be that a medical reason, like loss of hearing, is causing them some distress. In case of sudden behavioral change, you should make an appointment with your vet.
8) So many more possibilities may exist that caused this.
9) You may never know the cause.
Bottom line is that you have to move your dog forward. They may not fully recover, but you can greatly improve their lives and their thoughts on the trigger (thing that scares them).
Treat Training and Luring Insights
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.
Dog owners tend to wince at the suggestion of using a correction. So many dog owners associate the word "correction" in dog training with punishment or treating their dog harshly. This is not what is meant by most dog trainers or dog sports enthusiasts.
My definition of a dog training correction is to further advance a position, speed, or behavior through communication the dog understands to mean what they had just done is not what was wanted and therefore offers another option or stops something. Some examples of corrections are verbal markers, spatial pressure, and the use of some training equipment. Please note that corrections should not be used, generally speaking, until the dog has started and advanced through the first stages of dog training, which is teaching. Once a performance can be reliably predicted to a standard, then you are ready to correct errors or non performance.
The ability to teach dog training commands that are later on reliable and functional depends upon how the ability to break them up into steps and then layer onto them different environments and distractions. This is also true when you are modifying your dog's behavior or changing your dog's perception of things that might make them defensive or scared. Many dog owners are not aware that going slower and methodically is going to give them a much better chance of reaching their dog training or behavior modification goals with their dogs.
Dogs neither understand English nor read minds. It is the dog owner's and trainer's job to break commands down into parts which can be taught well, and then advance the command by increasing things like the three Ds (duration, distance and distraction), which was discussed in our previous blog post.
Many dog owners and dog training students quickly get stuck in one place or feel that they have reached an impassable point. This cycle can make dog training students bored when they can't go onto something more challenging in dog training or behavioral modification of their dog. Meanwhile, with an understanding of how to advance their training and get to their goals, those goals are probably within reach by tweaking what they are doing or finding professional dog training help to bring it forward. How does a dog owner honestly measure their success in dog training and/or behavioral modification. This is the topic of this blog today.
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.
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.