Group training provides basic training and socialization skills for your dog in a small group setting (between 6 and 10 dogs). Classes are held Wednesday's at 5:30pm and Sunday's at 8:00am for a total of 6 weeks (or you can come once a week for a total of 12 weeks). At the end of the training course all dogs are tested and graduating dogs are awarded a Certificate of Achievement. Cost for the full training course is CI$360 payable in advance or at the first training session.
First, make sure your puppy is comfortable wearing a leash. This can feel strange at first, and some puppies may bite the leash. Give your puppy treats as you put the leash on each time. Then, stand next to your puppy with the leash in a loose loop and give him several treats in a row for standing or sitting next to your leg. Take one step forward and encourage him to follow by giving another treat as he catches up.
This command teaches your dog to come when you call him. It’s a good idea to start with this command whenever you take your dog out for toilet training. When he’s finished with his business, tell him “come.” If he doesn’t respond, get his attention. Some dogs are more headstrong than others so you will need patience and consistency. Make eye contact with your dog and keep your body at a level that is higher than his head. This lets him know that you are dominant. If he doesn’t come, go to where he is and continue to say “come” while leading him to where you want him to go. Repeat the process until he responds every time you call. A good trick to use is to initially offer a reward when you say “come” and gradually discontinue the reward offers, because he needs to obey you without getting a treat every time. Don’t tolerate disobedience. When he refuses to comply, let him know that there are consequences. This doesn’t include any act of violence, but rather, guidance, patience and firmness. He will know that he’s displeased you when you calmly scold him with a firm voice. By nature, most dogs want to please their owners, so this is an advantage in training for basic and even more advanced commands.
There is no formal apprenticeship system in dog training, but opportunities to work with other experienced trainers and a large variety of dogs is essential to your education. Volunteering with shelters and local rescue groups is also extremely helpful to introduce you to a range of canine personalities, breeds etc. When you look for a trainer to mentor with, make sure the that trainer is committed to furthering his or her own education, is open to learning about a variety of methods, and is devoted to humane training methods.
Even if your dog is older, curiosity can get the better of him. Make sure your home is a safe place for him by putting yourself in his paws. Crawl around on the floor and check out any potential dangers. Electrical cords, poisonous houseplants, and any item small enough to swallow are just a few of the things that should be out of his reach. Veterinarians perform more surgeries to remove strange objects that a dog has swallowed than for anything else.
Formal dog training has traditionally been delayed until 6 months of age. Actually, this juvenile stage is a very poor time to start. The dog is learning from every experience and delaying training means missed opportunities for the dog to learn how you would like him to behave. During the juvenile stage, the dog is beginning to solidify adult behavioral patterns and progresses through fear periods. Behaviors learned in puppyhood may need to be changed. In addition, anything that has already been learned or trained incorrectly will need to be undone and re-taught. Puppies are capable of learning much from an early age.
Whenever you’re training your dog, it’s important to get as many family members involved as possible so everyone’s on the same page. If you are telling your dog “off” when he jumps on the couch and someone else is saying “down,” while someone else is letting him hang out up there, how on earth is he ever going to learn what you want? Consistency will be the key to your success.
Pups between the ages of 9–12 weeks who were permitted to observe their narcotics-detecting mothers at work generally proved more capable at learning the same skills at six months of age than control puppies the same age who were not previously allowed to watch their mothers working. A 2001 study recorded the behaviour of dogs in detour tests, in which a favorite toy or food was placed behind a V-shaped fence. The demonstration of the detour by humans significantly improved the dogs' performance in the trials. The experiments showed that dogs are able to rely on information provided by human action when confronted with a new task. Significantly, they did not copy the exact path of the human demonstrator, but adopted the detour behavior shown by humans to reach their goal. A 1977 experiment by Adler and Adler found that puppies who watched other puppies learn to pull a food cart into their cages by an attached ribbon proved considerably faster at the task when later given the opportunity themselves. At 38 days of age, the demonstrator puppies took an average of 697 seconds to succeed, while the observers succeeded in an average of 9 seconds.
Starting a training program can also help you to establish boundaries for your dog right from the beginning. Starting an obedience class sets him up for good behavior and makes it easier for him to become a happy and healthy member of your family! Remember, dogs are most at ease when they know the rules. Dogs crave structure and predictability, so training your new dog properly from the start is one of the best things you can do for him.
There is nothing inherently wrong with telling your dog “no,” except that it doesn’t give him enough information. Instead of telling your dog “no,” tell him what you want him to do. Dogs don’t generalize well, so if your dog jumps up on someone to say hello and you say no, he may jump higher or he may jump to the left side instead of the right. A better alternative would be to ask him to “sit.” Tell him what you want him to do in order to avoid confusion.
Over time, the words “good dog” and the affectionate pat become secondary reinforcers. Because they have been paired with food in the past, they take on more meaning and become reinforcement in themselves. It is important to use secondary reinforcement because you will not always have food with you when you need your pet to obey. In addition, if you rely on food to get your puppy to comply, you will have a puppy that will only do the task when you have a treat.
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.
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. 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. Dunbar has written numerous books, and is known for his international seminar presentations and award-winning videos on puppy and dog behavior and training.
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.