Prior to the 1980s, Karen Pryor was a marine-mammal trainer who used Skinner's operant principles to teach dolphins and develop marine-mammal shows. In 1984, she published her book, Don't Shoot the Dog: The New Art of Teaching and Training, an explanation of operant-conditioning procedures written for the general public.[23] In the book Pryor explains why punishment as a way to get people to change often fails, and describes specific positive methods for changing the behaviour of husbands, children and pets.[33] Pryor's dog training materials and seminars showed how operant procedures can be used to provide training based on positive reinforcement of good behavior.[23] Pryor and Gary Wilkes introduced clicker training to dog trainers with a series of seminars in 1992 and 1993. Wilkes used aversives as well as rewards, and the philosophical differences soon ended the partnership.[34]

The University of North Texas in Denton’s Department of Behavior Analysis is offering graduate and undergraduate courses on behavior modification through positive reinforcement shaping. Students do their hands-on research at zoos and animal shelters and at home. Training a pet is a course requirement for graduates and undergraduates alike. To learn more about this and other university programs that involve modern animal training, visit the Department of Behavior Analysis at the University of North Texas.
In one study laboratory-bred Beagles were divided into three groups. Group A received an electric shock when the dogs touched the prey (a rabbit dummy fixed to a motion device). Group H received a shock when they did not obey a previously trained recall command during hunting. Dogs in group R received the electric shock arbitrarily, i.e. the shock was administered unpredictably and out of context. Group A did not show a significant rise in salivary cortisol levels, while group R and group H did show a significant rise. This led to the conclusion that animals which were able to clearly associate the electric stimulus with their action, i.e. touching the prey, and consequently were able to predict and control the stressor, did not show considerable or persistent stress indicators, while animals that were not able to control the situation to avoid the shock did show significant stress.[62]
Once you’ve completed the above process, establish yourself as the Pack Leader by going through the rest of your day exuding calm-assertive energy. Everyone in the household should ignore the dog. You can acknowledge the dog if she joins you, of course, but don’t go overboard with affection yet. Just as you’re still getting used to her in the house, she’s getting used to being in her new house. You’ve gone a long way already toward teaching her that this is your territory and you make the rules. Now, she’s going to observe so she can figure out what the rules are, and who’s who in her new pack.

I am so grateful to Richard for his expertise with teaching me how to gain respect from my dog, showing him I am the leader and by doing so we are loving each other a little more everyday. My GSD is a rescue and he is approximately 2 years old. This is not my first GSD but my past fur babies have been mine since puppy so this has been a challenge....
To start training your dog to “settle,” leash her up and take a seat. Step on the leash so your dog has only enough room to sit, stand, and turn around, but not stray from your side. Then, wait. Your dog may be excited at first, and try to jump up on your lap or run around the room. Let her figure out that she can’t go anywhere. Once she settles down on her own, say “yes!” and give her a treat.

A Hungarian dog training group called Népszigeti Kutyaiskola use a variation of model-rival training which they describe as the Mirror Method. The mirror method philosophy is that dogs instinctively learn by following the example of others in their social sphere. Core to the program is including the dog in all aspects of the owner's life and positive reinforcement of copying behaviors. Mirror method dog training relies on using a dog's natural instincts and inclinations rather than working against them.[67]
Handler should walk off with the leg closest to the dog while clearly and loudly saying the dog’s name and “heel.” Dog should heel at side with lead in handler’s left hand, unless the dog is hard to handle. If this is the case, the handler would put the lead in the right hand and have the left hand placed on the leash a few inches away from the chain.
However, a training class serves many functions. Trainers can demonstrate techniques and help guide you through the steps in training. They can help advise you on puppy training problems, and can help you advance your training to exercises that are more difficult. The puppy will be learning in a group situation, with some real life distractions. And, considering human nature, the pet owner who takes his or her dog to a puppy class will be forced to practice (do their homework) throughout the week if they do not want to fall behind by the next class. Finally, a training class is a good place to meet and talk to other new puppy owners and see how all puppies behave.
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In the 1950s Blanche Saunders was a staunch advocate of pet-dog training, travelling throughout the U.S. to promote obedience classes.[15] In The Complete Book of Dog Obedience, she said, "Dogs learn by associating their act with a pleasing or displeasing result. They must be disciplined when they do wrong, but they must also be rewarded when they do right."[22] Negative reinforcement procedures played a key part in Saunders' method, primarily the jerking of the choke chain. The mantra taught to students was "Command! Jerk! Praise!" She felt that food should not be an ongoing reward, but that it was acceptable to use "a tidbit now and then to overcome a problem." Saunders perhaps began the shift away from military and police training methods, stressing repeatedly the importance of reinforcement for good behaviour in training—a move toward the positive training methods used today.[23]
This is the best place! I took my puppy here for training classes and would do it again in a heart beat. The trainers are highly informed in training dogs, love every puppy, and are VERY approachable. I have recommended it to a handful of people with new puppies. They even answered questions for me months later. Top quality!!! You guys are perfect!
I took a puppy class and it helped tremendously!!! The trainer was more than willing to answer any silly little question that i had (and anyone else in the class – believe me there were a lot!) She emailed us tasks & additional info too. I saved the emails & still refer back to these sometimes. Katrina was more than willing address any problems I was having with my pooch. The techniques that we were taught I still use. Recently I travelled up state where i had my dog off leash (which freaked me completely out) then i just used some simple targeting tasks we were taught in class . After a day i was completely calm with her off leash & every time I call her she comes running! This is something i dont think i would have been able to achieve on my own. Taking the class was definetly the best thing I could have done for my puppy!
Laying a solid training foundation will make life with your dog easier and more fun. If you’re not sure where to start, sign up for an in-person obedience class; there’s no better way to train your dog than to practice with an expert IRL. You can also follow any of the helpful links above, and check out our blog archives for additional tips and tricks.

Ideally you should give the command phrase once and then use your food to move the puppy into positions. Once the puppy has performed the task, add in verbal praise and an affectionate pat, which are known as secondary reinforcers (see below). If the puppy does not immediately obey on the first command, then you are likely proceeding a little too quickly. If you keep repeating the command, the puppy will learn that several repetitions are acceptable before it needs to obey. Keeping a leash attached can help to gain an immediate response if the puppy does not obey.
In the 1980s veterinarian and animal behaviourist Ian Dunbar discovered that despite evidence on the peak learning periods in animals, few dog trainers worked with puppies before they were six months old.[25] Dunbar founded Sirius Dog Training, the first off-leash training program specifically for puppies, which emphasizes the importance of teaching bite inhibition, sociality, and other basic household manners, to dogs under six months of age.[31] Dunbar has written numerous books, and is known for his international seminar presentations and award-winning videos on puppy and dog behavior and training.[32]
You will be training your puppy from the moment you bring it home and start to house train. Puppies start learning from birth and good breeders begin handling and socialization right away. Some training can begin as soon as the puppy can open its eyes and walk. Young puppies have short attention spans but you can expect them to begin to learn simple obedience commands such as “sit,” “down,” and “stay,” as young as 7 to 8 weeks of age.
Basic obedience training is necessary to keep your pet and those who come in contact with him safe. Disobedient dogs can be hazardous as well as embarrassing and destructive. Obedient dogs can be a pleasure to have around. You will start by teaching your dogs some basic commands. Patience is required while he is learning because he may not understand what you’re doing at first, but hang in there, he’ll catch on.
Small pieces of food or a favored toy can be used to motivate your puppy to perform most tasks. Provided the reward is sufficiently appealing, the puppy can be prompted to give the desired response by showing the puppy the reward, giving a command, and moving the reward to get the desired response. For example, food held up over the puppy's nose and moved slowly backwards should get a 'sit' response; food drawn down to the floor should get a 'down' response; food brought back up should get a 'stand' response; food held out at a distance should get a 'come' response; and food held at your thigh as you walk should get the puppy to 'heel or 'follow'. By pairing a command phrase or word with each action, and giving the reward for each appropriate response, the puppy should soon learn the meaning of each command.
Based on the principles of social learning, model-rival training uses a model, or a rival for attention, to demonstrate the desired behaviour.[65] The method was used by Irene Pepperberg to train Alex the African Grey Parrot to label a large number of objects. McKinley and Young undertook a pilot study on the applicability of a modified version of the model-rival method to the training of domestic dogs, noting that the dog's origins as a member of large and complex social groups promote observational learning. The model-rival training involved an interaction between the trainer, the dog, and a person acting as a model-rival, that is, a model for desired behaviour and a rival for the trainer's attention. In view of the dog, a dialogue concerning a particular toy commenced between the trainer and the model-rival. The trainer praised or scolded the model-rival depending on whether the model-rival had named the toy correctly. It was found that the performance times for completion of the task were similar for dogs trained with either operant conditioning or the model rival method. In addition, the total training time required for task completion was comparable for both methods.[66]
Next, drop a treat on the floor near you. As soon as your puppy finishes the treat on the ground, say his name again. When he looks up, give him another treat. Repeat this a couple of times until you can begin tossing the treat a little further away, and he can turn around to face you when you say his name. Avoid repeating your puppy’s name; saying it too often when he doesn’t respond makes it easier for him to ignore it. Instead, move closer to your puppy and go back to a step where he can be successful at responding to his name the first time.
Dogs like having a routine. A dog who has spent the last few weeks or more in a shelter or rescue may have been stressed out in part because his life had become so unpredictable. By establishing a routine for feeding, walking, playtime and bedtime, you can begin providing some stability for your dog. In most cases, this will help with his adjustment to his new home.
If you’re interested in training your dog to come to you when he’s called, one way to teach him is to play the Recall Game. This training game is played with two people, one hungry dog, one 6-foot leash, and plenty of small treats. Practice the Recall Game on and off leash inside, on leash outside, off leash outside in a confined area, and then ultimately on and off leash with distractions when your dog is ready. Be sure you can touch your dog’s collar every time he comes to you, and before you give him a treat.
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