In the 1950s Blanche Saunders was a staunch advocate of pet-dog training, travelling throughout the U.S. to promote obedience classes. 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." 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.
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.
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.
The most important concepts in dog training are positive reinforcement, repetition, and patience. You didn’t learn the alphabet in a day; it would be unfair to expect your dog to remember every command perfectly after only a few tries. End your training sessions before the dog starts getting bored or frustrated, and try again another time, and have fun! If you stay calm and positive, the dog will pick up on your attitude and learn faster.
Sit is one of the most basic commands and it helps you to maintain control over your dog under all situations. This should be the first command that you teach. Start by telling your dog “sit.” Gently push downwards on the haunches until he is in the sitting position. When he is there, praise him and possible give him a doggie treat as a reward. It’s always a good idea to use hand gestures when teaching commands. A finger pointing downward will help him to learn the word and the gesture together. When fully trained he will respond to either. Repeat this process until your pet has learned to sit on command. Space the treats further and further apart until they are no longer needed.
Training clubs that run the Kennel Club Good Citizen Dog Scheme - the largest dog training programme in the UK are a sensible place to begin. Here you will learn about every aspect of dog ownership from the Puppy Foundation Courses through to Bronze, Silver and Gold award levels. Go to GCDS Training Clubs in your County to find one near to you or email the GCDS Team (firstname.lastname@example.org) or call 0207 518 1011.
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....
When you adopt a puppy or dog from a shelter, he comes with a history — not the least of which is being relinquished to the shelter. Keep in mind that the stress of this, along with whatever the dog has experienced in his past, can make him less than confident in new surroundings. Plan on giving him some time to adjust to his new home and family. Dogs can take anywhere from a few hours to several months to get used to living in a new place. During this adjustment time, do what you can to make your new dog feel safe and comfortable. Be patient while he adjusts, but also try to keep things consistent and predictable in his new environment.
If your dog exhibits a behavior you don’t like, there is a strong likelihood that it’s something that has been reinforced before. A great example is when your dog brings you a toy and barks to entice you to throw it. You throw the toy. Your dog has just learned that barking gets you to do what he wants. You say “no,” and he barks even more. Heaven forbid you give in and throw the toy now! Why? Because you will have taught him persistence pays off. Before you know it you’ll have a dog that barks and barks every time he wants something. The solution? Ignore his barking or ask him to do something for you (like “sit”) before you throw his toy.
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Konrad Lorenz, an Austrian scientist who is regarded as developing the foundations of ethological research, further popularised animal behaviorism with his books, Man Meets Dog and King Solomon's Ring. Lorenz stated that there were three essential commands to teach a dog: "lie down" (stay where you are), "basket" (go over there) and "heel" (come with me).
Stand a short distance away from your dog and say its name and “come!” in a happy, excited voice. As soon as the dog looks at you, toss it a treat. After several repetitions of this, wait until it takes a step towards you before you toss the treat. Slowly raise your standards until the dog must come all the way up to you to get the treat. Try standing farther away or in a different room. If the dog is interested in something else, like a toy, and ignores you, try a higher value treat with a pungent smell, such as wet cat food. This will grab the dog’s attention even at a distance.
Classical conditioning (or Pavlovian conditioning) is a form of learning in which one stimulus, the conditioned stimulus, comes to signal the occurrence of a second stimulus, the unconditioned stimulus. Classical conditioning is when a dog learns to associate things in its environment, or discovers some things just go together. A dog may become afraid of rain through an association with thunder and lightning, or it may respond to the owner putting on a particular pair of shoes by fetching its leash. Classical conditioning is used in dog training to help a dog make specific associations with a particular stimulus, particularly in overcoming fear of people and situations.
Once the handlers are all finished with an exercise, be sure to call an exercise finish. This is a release when the handler will praise their dog excitably, playing with a toy or giving them a treat. (I actually prefer praise over treats). This doesn’t last long just a few seconds unless it is the end of a class or break time. If that is the case, make sure the handlers know there is no work to be done during breaks or after class unless you have a one-on-one time set up with them. They should not practice after a class until the next day.
This is another important command to teach your dog. You start by telling your dog to lie down in a certain spot. While you’re speaking, help to position the dog in the laying position, gently with your hands. Praise him for obeying. Be patient and continue to work with him until he understands what you mean. Offer rewards in the beginning, and gradually decrease the rewards until he will obey the lie down command without requiring your intervention.
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Summary: This training workshop is open to new adopters, seasoned pet owners, and anyone looking to learn a little more about how to effectively communicate with their dog. This workshop covers the basics of how dogs learn and how you can make the most of their training. As an added benefit, anyone who attends this workshop will receive a discount code for 10% off a Manners training class.
Killing and eating: From an evolutionary standpoint, dogs don’t see a massive distinction between beginning to feed and an animal dying—once the prey is no longer fighting or fleeing, eating begins. Therefore, we often see dogs practice the application of a clean dispatch via pressure or the “grab and shake” with toys, ropes, or other items they find.
From there, start your schedule of feeding, toileting and play/exercise. From Day One, your dog will need family time and brief periods of solitary confinement. Don’t give in and comfort him if he whines when left alone. Instead, give him attention for good behavior, such as chewing on a toy or resting quietly (Source: Preparing Your Home For A New Dog).
Puppies can begin very simple training starting as soon as they come home, usually around 8 weeks old. Always keep training sessions brief — just 5 to 10 minutes —and always end on a positive note. If your puppy is having trouble learning a new behavior, end the session by reviewing something he already knows and give him plenty of praise and a big reward for his success. If your puppy gets bored or frustrated, it will ultimately be counterproductive to learning.
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.
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The general principles of positive training are simple. Just like humans, dogs will repeat behaviors that they are rewarded for. Begin by choosing a behavior you want to encourage, such as sitting. Give the command, then watch carefully. When your dog does something close to what you asked for, quickly give her a reward. As she learns the command, you can shape her behavior by rewarding only a more accurate response. Your training coach can assist you and offer advice for tricky situations.
Before enrolling with a particular club contact them and ask if you can go to watch a class without your dog. This will help you decide if this is the right environment for you and your dog. Some clubs have waiting lists and you will need to book ahead, some accept people on a roll on roll off basis. Prices will vary from a joining fee and then weekly payments to a one off fee for a certain length of training.
Leashes are mandatory in some areas and they give you more control over the dog. Your pet may resist the leash initially, but reassure him that it’s okay as you attach it to his collar. Begin by gently coaxing and pulling him in the direction that you want to go. If he is afraid, be patient and work with him until he becomes more comfortable. Most dogs quickly learn that the leash will not harm them. If your dog has been abused, the process may take longer. Reward your dog by taking him on a nice walk. Do your best to avoid harsh stops that may cause choking. You’ll find that the leash can protect your dog from harm when walking near a roadway. It’s the best way for maintaining physical control of your dog at all times. Some leashes have a retractable mechanism that will allow to to let greater lengths out so your dog will have more freedom when appropriate.
In order to have a well-balanced dog, we have to teach her the house rules, and set boundaries and limitations from the get-go. The message you send your dog the moment she enters your home for the first time is critical, because it immediately establishes the ground rules in your dog’s mind. If you just let her run in the door, the message is, “Here! Everything is yours, and you can do whatever you want.”
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.