Build A Foundation of Communication
Here are some of the foundation we talked about to better communicate with our dog, that we went over in our first session.
Reward Markers: Charging the Clicker or Verbal “Yes”
Reward markers come in the form of a verbal cue of “Yes” or a "Click" the clicker followed by a tasty treat or your dog's food. Using a clicker or word such as “Yes” can provide clarity to the training process by marking the correct behavior in a timely manner and can help teach and reinforce positive behaviors.
Get ready by having the clicker in one hand and and plenty of tasty high value treats ready in a puch or your back pocket. To start press the clicker and give your dog a treat or say “Yes” in a upbeat tone. Repeat this about 10 - 20 times each session. You can also click, backup and reward with food as well.
Your voice can be an amazing training tool. When giving your dog a cue/command, speak naturally. When praising use a higher tone of voice, and when interrupting or correcting (No, Ehh Ehh) use a lower tone of voice.
Timing is how we let our dogs know what they are getting rewarded for. You have about 1.3 - 1.5 seconds to mark the behavior you asked your dog to do. Mark and reward all positive behaviors the moment it happens, just like taking a photo of that moment. The Marker is your bridge to give you more time to get the treat in to your dog. Remember that marking the behavior at the right moment is imperative and then get your dog the treat.
Only your dog can tell you what their motivation is, but for most dogs food is a pretty good one as we all have to eat. You can also use play, toys and praise when training your dog to keep training sessions fun and upbeat, it's important to always end on a good note.
Think of the motivation like being paid for a job well done not as a bribe to do it.If you do not feel like training that day, in a bad mood, tired or sick, take the day off and do not train wait until you are feeling better. If you are losing patience with your dog take a break and give your dog a "time out" in a crate so you both can relax. Give your dog something to keep them busy with while they are in their crate, such as a stuffed Kong or chew.
Training is all about consistency. as we discussed this can be one of the hardest things for us humans. It is important that everyone in the dogs life be on the same page for the best results. Remember the stages of learning we discussed (The 4 A's). Training needs to take place in different environments so your dog knows that the rules apply everywhere, not just at home.
Make training part of your daily life, and you will always have time to practice and build a foundation of good behavior.
The more you practice the better your relationship with your dog will be. A good guideline is to work your dog for about an hour a day. Break up sessions into 5-15 minutes sessions. Create rules and boundaries and be consistent with them so your dog knows what is expected from them.
Reward Markers (Taking the picture)
Mark the exact moment you like a behavior with verbal marker "Yes" or a "Click" of a Clicker. Then reward your dog for a job well done with a tasty treat or better yet use their meals for training. Marking Yes or a Click is always followed by a treat/food. I like to use Clickers in the beginning stages of training a new behavior and then weaned off or replaced later with the word "Yes". You can always reintroduce the clicker later again if you decide to teach a new trick or to counter condition and desensitize a bad association.
Think of the clicker like taking a photo of the exact moment the behavior is achieved.
When using treats use small pieces. Soft treats work best so they can quickly swallow him and move on rather than crunching on a biscuit and then going from crumbs on the floor and getting distracted. Take into account how much you are feeding and if necessary decrease a small amount of Belle ’s meals.
This is geared more towards puppies but can be used to teach good habits as well to older dogs. We want to reward your dog for positive behaviors, we do this a lot with puppies. So when your dog does a positive behavior such as sitting, lying down, going to their bed or crate. Mark with a "Yes" or Click, if the clicker is handy, and reward and praise. By doing this you are building a “Reward History" of positive behaviors.
Having fun is also a very important part of training too. Through training we build a better relationship with our dogs, so rewarding with play during a training break or as the reward for good behavior is a great way to have fun with the training. Teaching your dog a new trick such as roll over or puppy push ups is always fun. Playing a proper game of Tug can be a biologically fulfilling exercise and reward. You should always initiate and end the game as well. If your dog gets overly excited, stop the game and ignore them.
Use Life’s Opportunity To Train
Finding time to train can be challenging at times. Use life’s natural moments to train such as on walks you can add "Heel" and Structured walking, "Sit" at all thresholds, corners and when you stop. On a long stop you can even add a "Down" or work on their focus and attention. Remember any time there is something the dog might want to eat on the street can use that to practice "Leave It". At home, practice "Place" and "Down" while you are watching TV, on the computer or reading a book, even while eating or preparing meal and when you know someone is coming over.
OK, Free or Break (Release cue)
Every Cue/Command has a beginning and end, so instead of repeating “ Stay" we start with the Cue such as Sit/Down/Place and end with a release cue such as "OK", "Free" or "Break". Remember to always release with one of these words, or anyone you choose, as long as you are consistent, so your dog knows exactly when they are released from a command. The release is the reward after they start understanding it. In the beginning, always go up to your dog to release as to not to build anticipation.
Concerning corrections, we always want to make sure the dog understands what we are asking them before applying a leash correction. The correction needs to be enough to stop the behavior but not too much as well. I will show you how to apply a proper leash correction with the tool you are using, Please wait before applying leash corrections until you have spent enough time teaching.
Remember, as a great trainer friend of mine Mark McCabe says, "Look for moments to reward rather then just moments to correct",
The sequence is:
- Any Cue such as “Heel”, “Look”, "Leave It”, “Sit"
- "No", if the ignores the cue and understands it.
- Apply a appropriate correction
- Repeat same cue, and mark and reward for good choice.
Name Recognition (Attention)
A great way to start your relationship with your dog once is to teach them their name. When you are training your dog it's most important that you have their attention. Call your dog in an upbeat tone, when your dog turn their head to look at you mark with a verbal marker such as saying the word "Yes" in a upbeat tone or use a Clicker then reward with a tasty treat or their meal. You want to mark the exact moment the dog turns their head, think of it like snapping a photo of that moment.
Work on name recognition in many different environments. You want your dog to spin their head around and look towards you each and every time you say their name. Always make sure your dog is looking at you before you ask them for a command. Have some fun with friends, family and or your roommate standing or sitting in a circle and practice name game.
Here are few Videos playing the "Name Game";