Reinforcement can be anything your dog likes. Most people use small pieces of a “high value” food for training treats — something special — such as dried liver or even just their kibble. Lavish praise or the chance to play with a favorite toy can also be used as a reward. Dogs must be taught to like praise. If you give the dog a treat while saying “Good dog!” in a happy voice, he will learn that praise is a good thing and can be a reward. Some dogs also enjoy petting. Food is often the most convenient way to reinforce behavior.
Once your dog has learned to sit on command, he is ready to learn to lie down. Begin in the sitting position. Instead of moving the treat over him, however, lower it slowly in front of him. He will respond by lowering his own body to reach the treat. As soon as he is in the down position, say the word “down” and offer him the treat. Avoid using the fuller phrase, “lie down,” as it is easier for dogs to learn single syllables.
Some dogs are fearful and when they are exposed to frightening situations, they need to have your reassurance that everything is going to be okay. Gradual exposure to new situations is the best approach. If your dog is afraid of loud noises, start with moderate situations, staying right beside your pet, and increase the exposure giving lots of affection and reassurance, but don’t stress your dog unnecessarily. Overexposure to fearful situations can lead to phobias. Dogs become phobic when they are left alone, victimized by abusive humans or other animals, or neglected by their owners. Giving them reassurance and the best possible care with lots of love and attention increases the odds of having a well adjusted dog.
Whether you want to learn how to train a puppy or are hoping to teach your old dog some new tricks, Petco’s expert trainers in New Orleans are here to help. We offer beginning through advanced classes for puppies and adult dogs, including complete training packages and a canine good citizen class. Learn more or sign up today by calling (504) 226-2030.
When training is started at 7 to 8 weeks of age, use methods that rely on positive reinforcement and gentle teaching. Puppies have short attention spans, so training sessions should be brief, but should occur daily. Puppies can be taught to “sit,” “down,” and “stand” using a method called food-lure training. We use food treats to entice the dog to follow its nose into the proper positions for “sit,” “down,” “stand,” and “stay”.
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.
Use these training tasks as you integrate the puppy into your life. For example, ask your puppy to “sit” prior to receiving her food, “sit” before you let her in or out the door, and “sit” before you pet her. These are times when your puppy wants something and is more likely to comply. In this way, you are training your dog all the time, throughout the day and also establishing predictable rules and routines for interactions and helping the dog to learn who controls the resources. Training your puppy prior to getting each requested necessity, helps to prevent problems. Having your puppy sit before getting a food or treat prevents begging, while teaching your dog to sit before opening the door can prevent jumping up or running out the door. Be creative. The time you spend training your puppy now will pay off when you have an adult dog. To have a well-trained dog, you need to be committedto reinforcing the training tasks on nearly a daily basis for the first year of your puppy's life. The more you teach and supervise your puppy, the less opportunity it will have to engage in improper behaviors. Dogs do not train themselves, when left to choose their behavior they will act like dogs.
A year-long study by the University of Pennsylvania, published in the journal Applied Animal Behavior Science (Elsevier), showed that aggressive dogs who were trained with aggressive, confrontational, or aversive training techniques, such as being stared at, growled at, rolled onto their backs, or hit, continued their aggressive ways. Non-aversive training methods, such as exercise or rewards, were very successful in reducing or eliminating aggressive responses.