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.
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Typical positive reinforcement events will satisfy some physiological or psychological need, so it can be food, a game, or a demonstration of affection. Different dogs will find different things reinforcing. Negative reinforcement occurs when a dog discovers that a particular response ends the presentation of an aversive stimulus. An aversive is anything that the dog does not like, such as verbal admonishment, or a tightened choke chain.
For the first few sessions, pick a room in the house that’s large enough to move around. When your dog figures out what you want him to do, take your training lessons outside, preferably to a fenced-in area, or keep him on a leash when you are in an unfenced area. Distractions will vie for your puppy’s attention, so you’ll need to become more interesting than the street noise, a fast-moving squirrel, or the scent of newly mowed grass.
Here’s an easy technique to get started: hold a treat in your hand so the dog can see it. As the dog approaches you for the treat, move the treat up and over the dog’s head, so it is forced back into a sitting position as it follows the treat with its nose. As soon as the dog starts going into a sit, say “Sit!” and give it the treat within five seconds (this is the critical window for the dog making the association between sitting and getting the treat). Be sure to pet and praise the dog in a happy, excited voice. Repeat this over and over for as long as the dog stays interested. If the dog doesn’t seem interested in the treat, try a tastier one- bits of cheese or hot dog usually do the trick. Remember, the treats should be small, no bigger than your fingernail. Dogs value quantity over size, and we don’t want Fido getting too pudgy! As the training progresses, start raising your standards. Start rewarding only for brisk, neat sits. Carry some treats with you on walks or at the park and have the dog practice sitting in different environments. Soon the dog will not even need the treats for reinforcement and will gladly sit when you ask.
Konrad Most began training dogs for police work in Germany, and was appointed principal of the State Breeding and Training Establishment for police dogs in Berlin, where he carried out original research into training dogs for a broad range of service tasks. At the outbreak of war in 1914 he was charged with organising and directing the use of dogs to further the war effort. He headed the Experimental Institute for Armed Forces' Dogs during the Second World War, and afterwards ran the German Dog Farm, a centre for the training of working dogs, including assistance dogs for the blind. He played a leading role in the formation of the German Canine Research Society and Society for Animal Psychology. His 1910 publication, Training Dogs: A Manual, emphasised using instinctive behavior such as the prey drive to train desired behaviors, advocated the use of compulsion and inducements, differentiated between primary and secondary reinforcers, and described shaping behaviors, chaining components of an activity, and the importance of timing rewards and punishments. The book demonstrated an understanding of the principles of operant conditioning almost thirty years before they were formally outlined by B.F. Skinner in The Behavior of Organisms. While publishers of the 2001 reprint warn that some of the "compulsive inducements" such as the switch, the spiked collar and the forced compliance are unnecessarily harsh for today's pet dogs, the basic principles of Most's methods are still used in police and military settings.
The ideal time to begin toilet training a dog is when they are 3 to 4 months of age. Younger pups generally haven’t mastered bladder control before this time. Older dogs are more difficult to train but not impossible. Isolate the dog in a smaller area which could be a room, a spacious crate or placing them on a tether. The area can be enlarged as they begin to understand where they are to evacuate. Establish regular mealtimes while toilet training. Offer regular opportunities to go to the bathroom starting about fifteen minutes after the meal is eaten and then every 30 to 60 minutes throughout the day.
As soon as your dog comes home with you – that very first day – you should begin training basic obedience commands like Come, Sit, Stay and Down. You might discover your dog can already follow basic commands. You might also find that you need to take it very slow, working on just one command a day or for a couple of days or weeks then moving on to another command. Repeating a command over and over won’t make your pooch listen any better. If you find he can’t speak any English, solicit the help of a ‘translator’ or positive dog trainer to help you communicate more effectively.
Get an introduction to the importance of training dogs, both for owners and the dogs themselves. Through some powerful analogies, Professor Donaldson will put you in the mindset of your dog to show you why certain training methods don't work and others do. Learn the three key principles of dog training that will provide the foundation for every lesson moving forward. She'll also recommend some important tools to have on hand. x
Changing behavior takes time. You need to have realistic expectations about changing your dog’s behavior as well as how long it will take to change behaviors that you don’t like. Often behaviors which are “normal” doggie behaviors will take the most time such as barking, digging and jumping. You also need to consider how long your dog has rehearsed the behavior. For example, if you didn’t mind that your dog jumped up on people to say hi for the last seven years and now you decide that you don’t want him to do that anymore, that behavior will take a much longer time to undo than if you had addressed it when he was a pup. Remember it’s never too late to change the behavior some will just take longer than others.
Training classes for young puppies are also an excellent way to socialize your new puppy to a variety of people, dogs, and other stimuli in a controlled environment. In addition, you will learn how to prevent problems before they can begin, or deal with them as they emerge, rather than having to find a way to correct problems that have already developed. Your puppy might also make some new friends of the same age. You could then visit these friends (or vice versa) with your puppy for social play and exercise sessions. Since the primary socialization period for dogs ends by 3 months of age, puppy socialization classes are most valuable for puppies 8 weeks of age and older. If all puppies in the class have had initial vaccinations, are healthy and parasite free, the health risks are low and the potential benefits are enormous. Discuss the location of classes in your area and when to start them with your veterinarian.
Once you and your dog have basic commands in place (meaning your dog will successfully come, sit, stay and obey other basic commands), they are invited to join us for additional training that is highly valuable in further building upon already learned techniques. Our dog training classes in New Braunfels are designed to place yourself and your dog in public places (surrounded by other dogs, people, smells and sounds), so that you can train your dog to obey you... regardless of the many distractions screaming for their attention!
You can also work on teaching your dog yourself. There are lots of resources available, but it can be difficult to determine which information is bad and which is good. If your dog has habits you'd like to break, don't give up on him. Teach him instead! Consistency and persistency are key. Be consistent with your verbal cues and hand motions - "sit" and "sit down" sound very different to a dog. One word commands combined with a hand signal are best! Be persistent with your training and set aside time to practice every day until (and even after) your dog reliably responds to your commands.
Unless you plan to keep your dog outdoors--and few of us do because it's not recommended--you'll need to teach your dog where to eliminate. Therefore, house training (also called housebreaking or potty training) is one of the first things you need to work on with your dog. Crate training can be a very helpful part of the training process. This includes house training as well as many other areas of training: