National Train Your Dog Month

As a child I always thought of dog training in a very simple and amusing manner; ask Molly to do a trick, give Molly a treat. Much to my mom’s chagrin I would repeat until Molly’s belly was upset. All I wanted to do was keep her happy.

Thankfully, Molly was very food motivated and we grew up on a quiet side street, never having to cross a busy street. Obviously, even though I attended puppy training, I never understood the need for proper dog training. Hopefully, my parents understood training’s true purpose.

In honor of National Train Your Dog Month, ADinLOS would like to share some important techniques, commands, and yes, even tricks.

The first thing every pet parents should understand is how important the relationship between pet and master. Despite what we may believe, dogs not only need order, they want order. Order begins with listening to a someone they respect. When we allow our pets to tell us what to do, the likely-hood that our pets will listen to us when it really matters lessens. This doesn’t mean we need to force our dogs into submission, rather we need to lead them by enforcing proper technique.

Many people focus on negative reinforcement to keep our dogs from doing what we don’t want rather than positive reinforcement to keep them doing what we do want. The reality is, we need a combination of the two.

Positive Technique 1 – Motivational :
Motivational Training involves the use of food and other valued treats. Typically, the treat, combined with verbal praise is used to entice the dogs into repeating positive behaviors. Eventually after enough repetition, dogs will repeat without the need for treats.
Positive Technique 2 – Koehler:
The Koehler Method focuses on a dogs desire to enact behaviors of choice. When a dog is rewarded, it’s learned experience becomes positive and more desirable then uncomfortable situations, therefore the likelyhood to repeat is increased.
Positive Technique 3 – Marker:
The Marker Training revolves around the use of a sound to express a desired behavior. Once the dog completes the action, a clicker or other cue is used to show satisfaction. This is usually followed by verbal praise or possibly a treat.

Though each involve food or praise, food should not be used overly frequent, or the dog will come to expect it and lose focus. Also, many critique the use of verbal cues as most dogs react and understand non-verbal cues better. Ultimately, the positive technique is the choice of the leader, but it is important to understand the different positive methodologies.

Negative Technique 1 – Replacement:
Replacement technique is used to counter a dogs desire to do a negative incompatible action. When a dog lunges, replace the action with a conflicting action such as a sit and stay. Through repetition, the inappropriate action becomes the new standard.
Negative Technique 2 – Undesirable Consequences:
Undesirable Consequences involves the removal of an inappropriate action. Often confused with adverse punishment,it actually involves a variety of possibilities, including removal of rewards, instilling a positive punishment (stepping on a leash when a dog attempts to jump), or removing the negative until the behavior stops.

Negative techniques often are more difficult to carry-out as the involve two difficulties; our desire to keep our dog happy and time. Usually these habits have grown and became the new standard which requires constant attention and dedication.

Most important commands:
Leave it
Bring It
Drop it
Take It
Our favorite tricks:
Put Toys Away
Have realistic expectations – Fido is a dog, not a human. Make sure your goals are attainable and dog driven, not human driven.
Be consistent – If your goal is get Fluffy to stop jumping on the couch, don’t let him jump in your lap
You get what you reinforce – Pay close attention to what you do and what you say. Often we are doing something different…and negative.
Keep sessions short and simple – Attention spans are short (on both ends). Make sure you and Fido don’t lose focus and frustrated. Try short repeated sessons.
Good body language – Dogs understand body language before they can understand English. If you have poor body language and cues, odds are it might not work.

Remember, every dog is different, do what works for you. Just because your friend told you all terriers are stubborn and won’t listen, doesn’t mean you should give up or not try a technique usually suited for Labradors.

Everyone has heard the cliche phrase of you can’t teach an old dog new tricks, but I disagree. My dogs teach me something new every day.

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