8. Reward your dog’s successes. Because dogs generally repeat actions that are successful for them, reward-based training is a proven method for teaching the behavior you expect and desire of your dog. Although one of the most valued rewards you can give your dog is a tasty dog treat, rewards can come in the form of praise, affection, or playtime with a favorite toy, too. Just be sure your rewards are given in response to good behavior and not used as a bribe to elicit the behavior you want.
After discussing it with your veterinarian to ensure your dog has all the necessary vaccines, you may wish to take your dog to group training classes or the dog park. Pay close attention to your dog’s body language to be sure he’s having a good time — and is not fearful or a dog park bully. If you’re unsure of what signs to watch for, check out this video on safety at the dog park.
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.
A training class is not there to train your dog. Its purpose is to teach you to train your dog so you will need to be committed to train your dog for short sessions (5 minutes) several times a day rather than just simply turn up for classes! This little bit of training everyday will be repaid with a lifetime of living with a well behaved dog. You will also learn to avoid problems before they begin as well as receive help to overcome any that you already have with your dog.
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Learned helplessness occurs when a dog ceases to respond in a situation where it has no option to avoid a negative event. For learned helplessness to occur, the event must be both traumatic and outside the dog's control. Family dogs that are exposed to unpredictable or uncontrolled punishment are at risk of developing disturbances associated with the learned helplessness disorder. Punishment which is poorly coordinated with identifiable avoidance cues or response options, such as when punishment takes place long after the event, meet the criteria of inescapable trauma.
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Just as you would with a new puppy, you should introduce your shelter dog to crate training as soon as possible. In this way, you can work on housebreaking and be comfortable that he won't get into mischief when left unsupervised. It's also helpful because it gives your shelter dog a place of his own. Between living in a shelter and now coming to a new home, your dog may feel extremely stressed. Having a place of his own to retreat to when he feels overwhelmed can go a long way in helping him get settled in his new home.
Start with the basics. For most trainers, the “basics” are sit, lie down, stay, and come. Although many owners start with the sit command, consider beginning your training by teaching your pet to come to you. This is perhaps the most useful command when it comes to keeping your dog out of harm’s way, and it’s one of the easiest commands for a dog to master. Simply catch your dog in the act of coming toward you and say the word “come” as you offer him praise. You can also practice this command with a long lead in your backyard or other outdoor space.
Punishment is operationally defined as an event that lowers the probability of the behavior that it follows. It is not "punishment" in the common sense of the word, and does not mean physical or psychological harm and most certainly does not mean abuse. Punishment simply involves the presentation of an undesired consequence (positive punishment) when the wrong behavior is performed, such as a snap of the leash, or the removal of a desired consequence (negative punishment) when the wrong behavior is performed, such as the trainer eating the cheese that would have been the reward. A behavior that has previously been developed may cease if reinforcement stops; this is called extinction. A dog that paws its owner for attention will eventually stop if it no longer receives attention.
If you're adopting a puppy rather than an adult dog, expect an adjustment period for yourself, too! Adopting a puppy is like having a baby. There will be lots of potty breaks because their bladder isn't yet fully developed. Expect to get up a couple of times during the night for potty breaks. If you work, plan to come home everyday at lunch to let your puppy outside to potty. If you can't come home, consider hiring a pet sitter. Or, use an X-pen instead of a crate and set up a potty area on one side. Just know that a puppy HAS TO potty several times a day and plan accordingly. We recommend writing down every time the dog goes potty (both outside and accidents) so you can begin to see their patterns and how frequently they need to go out. Puppies will also chew on everything available, so don't make anything available that he shouldn't chew 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.
“It’s kind of like doing a background check,” Mr. Bekoff said. Certified Pet Dog Trainer, International Association of Animal Behavior Consultants and Certified Dog Behavior Consultants are three that experts point to. Accolades from the American Veterinary Society of Animal Behavior and the American Animal Hospital Association are also promising signs.
When you follow these basic tips for training your dog, you should see results fairly quickly. Keep in mind that every dog learns at their own pace, so don’t get discouraged if it seems to be taking awhile. If you are really worried about the pace your dog is learning at, go back through and check that you are following all 5 super tips. We are confident, that with time and patience, your dog will eventually figure out what kind of behavior you expect and successfully learn to follow your commands.