Phoenix Dog Training Fundamentals – 5 Key Dog Behavior Factors That Affect Training
Whether you already have experience of dog ownership, are a new dog owner or are about to be a dog owner, then training your dog is one of the most important aspects you need to consider. Likewise if you currently have a dog with behavior problems, then dog training is essential.
However, knowing you need to train your dog and actually training your dog are two entirely different things. Just where do you start?
To successfully train your dog, you need to consider and understand some key facets of dog behaviour. Knowing and understanding these 5 facets will greatly improve your dog training.
1. The origins of dogs. Dogs are in essence descended from modern day wolves. While domestication has dampened or eliminated many traits, some key natural instincts still remain. Like wolves, dogs are pack animals. What does this mean?
Well, there are several traits that derive from being a pack animal. The important ones when it comes to training are dogs are naturally sociable, they are used to routine and they are used to a social structure (i.e. the famed alpha male).
As sociable animals dogs thrive on the interaction with other dogs. A dog does not consider you as a human but rather a funny looking dog. Therefore, dogs thrive on the interaction with you. Just like a wild wolf, rejected by the pack, if you starve a dog of this interaction, they will become unhappy and very agitated.
When it comes to training, you can use this to reward or punish your dog. Interacting with your dog (e.g. patting, encouraging/excited talk, etc) can be as much of a reward as treats of food. Similarly, ignoring your dog (e.g. turning your back, stern talk, putting them in another room, etc) can be a harsh punishment for a dog. Its definitely better than smacking them.
As with all animals (including humans), dogs thrive on routine. If they know what and when they are likely to be doing certain things, then they are relaxed and comfortable. They know what to expect and are not confused by ever changing circumstances.
Training should also stick to a routine. Decide when the best time of the day is best for you to train your dog and stick by that time as rigidly as possible. Your dog will soon get into a routine of expecting to be trained at say 3pm every day and will be prepared for when training time comes. If your dog is ready and expecting to be trained, then it goes without saying that they will actually train better.
2. A dog’s memory. We all know that goldfish have short memories. However, you may be surprised to know that dogs also have short retention memories. If you could tell your dog something, it is likely that by the next day or a few hours later, they will have forgotten. On the other had (or paw) dogs do have incredibly good associated memory. This basically means that if your dog can associated something with what you tell it then it will likely remember what you told it for years to come.
For example if you told your dog (assuming you could speak doggy language) that the chocolate biscuits were in the cupboard your dog would probably forget this within a few hours. However, if you showed your dog where the chocolate biscuits were, repeating the words ‘chocolate biscuits’, every time you said ‘chocolate biscuits’ it would probably go straight to the cupboard. It may also search the cupboard every few hours for the rest of its life looking for the chocolate biscuits but that’s not the point.
Therefore, when training your dog you need to associate the training topic with something. For example: if you are teaching your dog to sit. If you associate the word ‘sit’ by getting your dog to physically sit and then giving them a reward. Repeat this a few times and soon your dog will associate your command ‘sit’ with it physically sitting and then getting a reward. The difficult bit is disassociating the reward – ask yourself why almost every dog will naturally sit when you have food in your hand?
3. Doggy language. Despite comments above, we cannot speak doggy language and dogs cannot speak our language. This is important when it comes to training. You have to choose words for commands that both you and your dog will remember. Be careful not to choose very common words or else your dog will be easily confused when this word keeps appearing within the middle of a sentence. A common word often used in training dogs is ‘come’. For this example, it may be better to use a slang version or combine ‘come here’ into a single short word.
The important thing is that when you decide on a word for a command to stick with it and be consistent, otherwise your dog will become confused.
I know it can be difficult, especially if you come home to your new TV pulled off the cabinet, to always use pre-selected words when talking to your dog. Your dog does not speak human language and will only know what those few words you have trained it with are (and the tone you have used). So if you start using other words or different tones your dog will not understand.
For example: imagine someone speaking to you in a foreign language asking for directions to the city hall. You can’t understand a word they are saying yet they get more and more frustrated, talking in a louder and quicker language. Is it your fault you can’t understand them? Why are they getting angrier when you have no idea what they are saying? What is their problem? What will I do? Similarly, if you haven’t trained your dog to understand what ‘sit’ is and you start shouting ‘sit’, ‘down on back legs’, ‘down’, etc is it your dog’s fault it is looking at you confused and increasingly scared.
4. Puppy behaviour. Just like babies, puppies do not know how the world works or how they are supposed to behave within that world. They need to be taught and learn what is good, bad, right or wrong.
A healthy and happy puppy will be a bundle of energy, desperate to explore as much as they can as quickly as they can. Dogs do not have good eyes that can see things or hands that can feel the intricacies of objects. Instead they have noses that can smell things and mouths that can chew objects.
5. Structure and enjoyment. While I have in a round about way touched on these two above, no dog training information would be complete without mentioning these two aspects on their own.
However you decide to train your dog, as with routine, you must have a structure to your training. If you have never trained a dog before, how do you know when your dog can start learning to sit, stay, etc and when it can run down to the local shop and pick the paper up for you?
You need to know what it is you actually want to train your dog to ultimately be able to do and what steps you need to take to get to that point. Personnel dog trainers, dog training classes and dog training guides can all do this. Personally, I prefer to train my own dogs and believe that in the end you develop a much stronger bond with your dog. Also, your dog is more obedient to you rather than the trainer. However, at the very least, and particularly if you have never trained a dog before, I would recommend purchasing a dog training guide.
The small amount of money for a dog training guide, compared to the time you would waste searching for free online tips that will be a mix match of training and will not provide the structure, is just not worth it. More than that, the time saved in training and the end result of a properly trained dog for the rest of its life (around 15 years) is worth many times more than the cost of even the most basic training guide.
If you, and more importantly your dog, do not enjoy training then you will never properly train your dog. Training will take longer and be much harder. When you start training your dog remember they are most likely to be a puppy and at that age all they want to do is run and explore their new world. Be flexible with the time you plan to spend training. Try and keep training short but if your dog appears to be really enjoying it then be prepared to train for longer. Likewise if your dog will just not focus, then maybe leave it for a bit before going back to it. With a routine and structure to your training, your dog will soon learn that when it comes to training they need to focus for a short length of time and will be better able to do so.
Dog Training Part V: The Command Voice?
Most training revolves around giving the dog consequences for his behaviour, in the hope of influencing the behaviour the dog will exhibit in the future. Operant conditioning defines four types of consequences: Positive reinforcement adds something to the situation to increase the chance of the behaviour being exhibited again (for example, giving a dog a treat when he sits.) Negative reinforcement removes something from the situation to increase the chance of the behaviour being exhibited again (for example, releasing the tension on an uncomfortable training collar when the dog stops pulling on the leash). Positive punishment adds something to the situation to decrease the chance of the behaviour being exhibited again (for example, growling at a misbehaving dog). Negative punishment removes something from the situation to decrease the chance of the behaviour being exhibited again (for example, walking away from a dog who jumps up). Most modern trainers say that they use "positive training methods", which is a different meaning of the word "positive" from that in operant conditioning. "Positive training methods" generally means preferring the use of reward-based training to increase good behavior over that of physical punishment to decrease bad behavior. However, a good trainer understands all four methods, whether or not she can put operant-conditioning terminology to them, and applies them as appropriate for the dog, the breed, the handler, and the situation. Rewards Positive reinforcers can be anything that the dog finds rewarding - special food treats, the chance to play with a tug toy, social interaction with other dogs, or the owners attention. The more rewarding a dog finds a particular reinforcer, the more work he will be prepared to do in order to obtain the reinforcer. Some trainers go through a process of teaching a puppy to strongly desire a particular toy, in order to make the toy a more powerful positive reinforcer for good behaviour. This process is called "building prey drive", and is commonly used in the training of Narcotics Detection and Police Service dogs. The goal is to produce a dog who will work independently for long periods of time. Some trainers believe that the toy acts as a positive reinforcer for the desired behavior, when in all likelihood the prey drive works on an entirely different level from standard training and conditioning techniques. This is seen most clearly in the fact that, according to the laws of operant conditioning, positive reinforcers lose their effectiveness if they're given every single time a dog does what is desired of him; the more predictable the reinforcer, the less reliable the behavior. Yet detection dogs only work well when they are always rewarded with a toy, every single time they find drugs or explosives, etc. The reason for this disparity is that when a dog is trained through the prey drive, the training activates an instinctive, automatic sequence that has to be completed in order for the dog to feel satisfied. That sequence is: search, eye-stalk, chase, grab-bite, and kill bite. So when a dog searches and finds drugs or explosives, he feels he hasn't finished his job unless he can bite something. This is the primary reason he's always given the toy. It's not really a positive reinforcer. If it were it would reduce the reliability of the behavior overall. It's a means of completing the predatory sequence for the dog. Punishments "Positive punishment" is probably the consequence that is least used by modern dog trainers, as it must be used very carefully. A dog is generally only given this type of punishment if it is willfully disobeying the owner. Punishing a dog who does not understand what is being asked of him is not only unfair to the dog, but can make the dog a fearful or unwilling worker. Punishments are administered only as appropriate for the dog's personality, age, and experience. A sharp No works for many dogs, but some dogs even show signs of fear or anxiety with harsh verbal corrections. On the other hand, certain dogs with 'harder' temperaments may ignore a verbal reprimand, and may work best if the reprimand is coupled with a physical punishment such as a quick tug on a training collar. Trainers generally advise keeping hand contact with the dog to positive interactions; if hands are used to threaten or hurt, some dogs may begin to behave defensively when stroked or handled. Avoiding punishment Keeping a puppy on a leash in challenging situations or in his crate or pen when not closely supervised prevents the puppy from getting into situations that might otherwise invite an owner's harsh reaction (such as chewing up a favorite pair of shoes). Next: Dog Training part V- The command voice
Dog Obedience Training in Phoenix Az: 5 Commands Your Puppy Should Know
There are many training techniques and philosophies that claim to be the fastest, easiest or most affective way to train your dog. The one thing that every dog training technique seem to mirror is that positive reinforcement and reward is the most effective. The second thing that all training techniques have in common is that the first step is to teach the dog fundamental commands. These fundamental commands will be the foundation of communication between canine and human.
The first command you should teach is SIT. With a few slight differences, most advice about dog training agree. The easiest way to teach this command is to cause the desired outcome to occur without much effort. For very young puppies, hold their food bowl above and behind their head. Your puppy looks up, loses his balance, and sits. You reinforce by saying the command, SIT, then praise puppy and reward with a treat. Repeat this process during each meal time and with treats until he will SIT on command without a food stimulus. Older dogs have better balance so an extra step may need to be used. Some dog training techniques suggest using a leash with no slack to keep your dog still, then just using a treat held above and behind his head, command SIT. If your dog resists, use your forefinger and thumb to apply pressure just in front of his hip bone or slide your hand over rump and apply pressure as you tuck legs and tail under to cause him to SIT. As always, praise and treat for desired result Every other fundamental command will build on the success of the SIT Command.
The second command that you must train your dog is NO. This command demands consistency from you, as the trainer, and every member of the household. The NO command need to always be spoken in a sharp guttural tone and alone. Do not use with your dogs name, or in a panicked or high pitched tone that only comes naturally if you were to walk in and see your dog chewing your favorite pair of shoes. Your tone needs to be authoritative sharp and strong to relay your displeasure. Withhold attention as punishment. Consistency is the key to train your dog.
STAY is another command that every dog should know. Building on SIT, stand beside your dog with the leash taunt, held straight above his head. Incorporate hand signals and place your open palm in front of dog’s nose. Say STAY and move in front of your dog to block his forward movement. If he moves, repeat hand signal and STAY command. If he stays, move back next to him, make him hold his STAY for a few seconds, praise and treat. As with each dog training technique, continue to slowly increase increments of distance and hold time with each training lesson. An additional element when training your dog to STAY is the three D’s. Duration, Distraction, and Distance. As I just mentioned, it is important to slowly increase the increments of Duration and Distance but Distraction must be introduced to test your dogs understanding of this command. Be sure to add distraction while training your dog before the distance gets too long. Common distractions would be someone entering the training area with a toy, another dog walking by, etc.
DOWN command can be taught just after SIT is mastered. It is important to use only the word DOWN. Your dog does not understand variations such as Lay Down. You must be consistent in training your dog that DOWN only refers to laying down. If you want to teach your dog to get down off of your chair, train OFF as your command. To teach your dog to lay down, first command him to SIT. Using a treat, draw your dog into a laying down position by dragging the treat between his legs and moving it forward. When the desired position is reached, praise, and treat. As you train your dog each new command, be sure to combine each command so patterns do not develop and the action of each different command is rewarded when achieved. (SIT DOWN STAY), (SIT STAY COME), (SIT STAY DOWN)
Teaching your dog to HEEL makes walks in your neighborhood a pleasant experience. I am sure you have seen or experienced the owner that gets walked by their dog. The owner is fearful of each approaching human or animal because they have not been trained to HEEL. Your goal is that your dog will stay close to you on a walk. He will not pull you or become too hard to control with the distractions of other dogs or humans. Start from SIT, add ‘Let’s Walk’ so your dog knows what is expected after he has learned to HEEL. A good tip, exercise your dog with play before training to HEEL. Work out all excess energy and train your dog in a quiet distraction free area. Start at SIT, use your dogs name and command HEEL. If your dog does not stay with you and darts away, turn in the other direction and repeat command HEEL and dog’s name. Remember to always to praise and treat desired responses.