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What is a Dog Whisperer?

By Sally Gutteridge | Posts , Training

It is a term often used, dog whisperer. Giving the impression that communication with a canine is something of a rare achievement. A basic internet search will provide one with plentiful dog expert’s that offer advice and label themselves a dog whisperer.

Let’s face it; you know your dog best. You spend every day with him; therefore you are best placed to work out why he behaves a certain way.

Admittedly the humble dog is another species. Despite being genetically different to us human beings, parallels can be drawn with our behavior which may surprise you. Before you take the word of any dog whisperer, consider the similarities between us.

Motivation

We both need motivation to perform at our best level.

People that are paid well and appreciated by their employers will be keen and interested to perform well. Children that are offered reward for good school results are inclined to study harder.

Dogs that are offered a reward which makes them happy, whether in the form of food or a toy are motivated to learn. It has been proven repeatedly that dogs learn the best when they have prior knowledge of a desired reward.

Positive experience

We both thrive in positivity.

The human being will want to repeat a positive experience. It is within our natures to seek out activities that make us happy. We enjoy social contact with other human beings and enjoy contact with other species. We also feel proud when appreciated by the people that we love and respect which makes us want to repeat the behavior that earned such respect.

Your family dog loves positive interaction with you and the rest of his human family. He will find enjoyment when you are pleased with him and will want to please you further by repeating the behavior that prompted your pleasure. By nature your dog will also want to be around other dogs.

The only exception to the happily social canine is the dog that has not been properly socialized. A dog that has not had contact with other dogs may show fear behaviors including aggression. If you have a dog like this and need help, research a local dog behaviorist. A good and well educated animal behaviorist will often avoid an egotistical term such as the dog whisperer.

Stress reaction and confidence

We can both suffer from stress overload

Our performance falters under stressful conditions. The human being can cope with a certain amount of stress and even thrive under it. If a manageable stress level is stretched further and we cannot cope then our performance will nosedive. Too much pressure, taking us beyond our personal capability will cause overload and leave us unable to perform, or learn anything at all.

As people we often learn better when our confidence is high. Feeling confident can lead us to believe that we are able to take on the world and win.

Inexperienced dog trainers can often place unmanageable demands on a dog. By asking too much of the canine during training sessions and not consolidating previous learning any trainer can cause their dog stress. A stressed dog will not learn. He will simply be unhappy and attempt to leave the situation. This unhappiness and sometimes fear, can be interpreted by a vexed and poorly educated trainer as unwillingness, or even worse dominant behavior. A self-titled dog whisperer that has received little formal education can easily use this theory to encourage others to misunderstand their own dogs in the name of dog training.

In professional and properly educated dog training situations care is taken to keep the dog happy and the training undemanding. By asking too much of any dog, the trainer knows that he will simply over faze it. A good and effective dog trainer will know the dog’s personal limits. The excellent trainer will teach a dog something in careful stages keeping canine confidence high and setting the dog up for success throughout.

Golden Retriever Puppy Training

By Sally Gutteridge | Breeds , Posts , Puppies

The golden retriever is a nice dog to raise and train. Resembling a bear cub as a puppy the retriever will grow into a loyal and humorous companion with stunning looks. This breed of dog is rarely complicated and usually responds well to praise and food reward. Originally bred to retrieve game birds and waterfowl the retriever is often seen proudly, yet gently, carrying a toy or shoe.

If you have decided to introduce a golden retriever puppy into your home then you are in for a treat. Watching this breed of dog grow into a mature adult canine is fantastic. The retriever is honest and faithful. He is a dog of little complication and you will enjoy him.

To help your new puppy grow into a well-rounded adult you will need to provide him with everything a puppy needs. Golden retriever puppy training is just the tip of the iceberg.

Socialization

Socialization is important for any puppy. The golden retriever is generally nice in nature and friendly to people and other animals. To ensure that your puppy stays this way, you should introduce regular contact with as many new experiences as possible. Any dog if not socialized from a young age can develop fear based issues such as spook barking or being scared of other dogs.  Some of the things to include in your golden retriever puppy training when socializing your dog are listed below;

  • Other dogs
  • Other animals
  • Children of all ages
  • Vehicle travel
  • Loud noises (to prepare for fireworks)
  • Household appliances

Dog training establishments often organize puppy socialization classes. Frequently these classes are catered to all breeds of puppy and not simply golden retriever puppy training. You could take your dog along and allow him to spend some time with other puppies of his own age, all shapes and sizes of dog. By attending these organized groups your dog will learn how to interact with other dogs and this is crucial to his development.

Leash walking

The main thing to remember with golden retriever puppy training is that your small and light puppy will grow into a big strong dog. You may be able to lift him at the moment and jumping up can seem cute. A large untrained retriever can be weighty and quick to use it to his advantage. Sitting on you or jumping for food with no malice can still become a nuisance. So it is a good idea to work on the behaviors that are most likely to become a problem as he grows.

The retriever really is a lovely breed of dog. He has a huge smile which he is not afraid to use and is an easy going pet even from a young age.

Leash walking is an important part of golden retriever puppy training. It is amazing how many adult dogs that have always pulled on the leash are expected just to “heel” on command. When he was a puppy the retriever pulled, as he grew the pulling became stronger but still not much of a problem. Suddenly a dog of 40kg dragging his owner along seems to come as a surprise.

Introducing the collar

Introducing your puppy to a collar can be a little traumatic, but he will soon get used to it. By using positive dog training you can associate food reward, to improve your dog’s acceptance.

The following steps are a guide, to golden retriever puppy training, when introducing the collar for the first time;

  • Have a handful of small dog treats available and your puppy’s new collar
  • Place the collar on the ground and give your dog chance to look at it, reward him when he does.
  • Now pick the collar up and show it to him and reward him
  • Place the collar very loosely around your dog’s neck and give praise and treats continuously to prevent distress over the collar.
  • When the collar is on simply ignore it and any scratching or attention that the dog pays to it.
  • Play a game with your dog and give him lots of praise and reward then take the collar off
  • Repeat this over a number of sessions until eventually you can leave his collar on for longer periods without him paying any attention to it.

Stages based on the ones above can be used to introduce your puppy to many new things. Remember to keep things positive, reward based and fun. Positivity is the only technique to use within golden retriever puppy training.

How to train a puppy to come

By Sally Gutteridge | Posts , Puppies

The owner of a new puppy has an almost blank canvas. A dog learns from the moment it is born and all of a puppy’s experiences determine how it will be as an older dog.

For this reason, dogs that are raised in puppy mills, or farms, and sold in pet shops can arrive at their new homes with fear or socialization issues. Often a new owner cannot understand why his puppy appears frightened or nervous. This insecure reaction from a puppy will affect everything new that it experiences. The puppy mill dog may not have seen outside of a kennel or passed a concrete wall at any point in its short life.

So when researching the best place to get a puppy from, it is advisable to find a reputable breeder or good rescue center. Both will have worked hard to ensure the puppy and its litter-mates are as socialized as possible. They will also be able to give you valuable information such as how to train a puppy to come and suitable feeding schedules.

A puppy with few fear issues is generally much easier to train on recall than an untrained adult dog. When learning how to train a puppy to come, you are not dealing with the unhelpful behaviors already learned by an older dog. To train a puppy to come when you call it is imperative to use positive reinforcement and reward.

If you offer tiny slivers of meat to a young puppy he will follow you. Firstly, you are his security and secondly you taste nice. By learning how to train a puppy to come when your dog is very young you will avoid the awkward unleashing of an older dog.

I have heard owners in the past say that their puppy is too young to go off the leash. I don’t actually believe that a puppy is ever too young to be off leash. By keeping their dog restrained until adolescence any owner can easily set himself up for a failed recall. This is because they are adding the new excitement of free running to the dogs already challenging teenage behavior stage. The sooner the better is my opinion when practicing how to train a puppy to come back when called.

Here are some tips based in positive learning for letting your puppy off the leash for the first time.

  • Take treats, small and delicious food reward will motivate your puppy to stay near you.
  • Walk quickly away from the puppy yet still offer plenty of reward, this will keep you interesting.
  • Change direction regularly, this will encourage your puppy to focus on you.
  • Use a toy if your puppy likes them, something squeaky that you can use to keep his attention.
  • Utilize your voice, a higher pitched voice than usual will keep the attention of your puppy.
  • Have a helper hold your puppy and go a few steps away then call him, give him a treat when he gets to you.
  • Call your puppy between two people both rewarding his return with a treat and plenty of praise.

Walking in new and unfamiliar areas will increase your puppy’s need to feel secure and as you are his security he will stick close to you. This need will assist greatly in learning how to train your puppy to come.

Keep in mind that it is important to speak to your veterinarian about vaccinations and associated risks before introducing your dog to the outside world. Areas of high canine population and high disease risk the vet may encourage full vaccination before outdoor walking. In this case it is important to do what you can in the house and garden.

When researching how to train a puppy to come when called it is important to be very careful. There is a lot of uneducated dog training advice on both the internet and in some actual dog training establishments. Look for advice that only promotes positive dog training and reward based reinforcement techniques. Be careful of any advice mentioning dominance, punishment or aversion. None of these methods are fair to dogs or proven to work long term. Remember if it makes you uncomfortable and your puppy unhappy do not do it. Puppy and all dog training should be positive, fun, reward based and progressive.

Play with your dog … It’s important!

By Sally Gutteridge | Behavior , Posts , Training , Tricks

Playing with your dog will build the relationship between you. It will use his mind in order to enable him to settle when you need him to, and an enthusiastic game will certainly be fun for both of you. The home that hosts multi dogs automatically provides stimulation for the animals by allowing interaction with each other. Single dogs benefit greatly from the interaction and stimulation they get when you play with your dog.

Play is beneficial to you as an owner too. Tug of war with a delighted and enthusiastic Staffordshire bull terrier on the other end of a tatty rope toy really is a great way to let off some steam after a hard day. The enthusiasm of an excited dog is infectious. They are in their element whilst being given individual attention and their happiness spreads. Any owner that walks through the door after a bad day to be met by a loyal and overjoyed canine companion cannot fail to appreciate the shift in mood that their dog provides.

Play is a great way to instill general control and training into your dog. Dog training games involving commands such as wait, sit and leave can all be taught when playing with a toy. Your dog is likely to learn well when the lesson is based in play. Happiness and positivity encourage thorough learning. This happy and eager state of mind is what clicker training and other positive reinforcement techniques are based upon.

There are many ways that you can play with your dog. Certain breeds enjoy games that are catered to their instinct. An example of instinct based play is a Labrador that retrieves the ball, endlessly asking for just one more throw. The springer spaniel bred for sniffing out game birds in bushy areas will really enjoy interaction based around searching for her toy.

Playing with your dog is great. Whether you are throwing a ball, pulling on a toy, teaching him to jump into your arms or simply playing chase you will both thoroughly enjoy yourselves. There is no room to be self-conscious when you play with your dog. Canine games are great for stress relief.

Play with your dog … some ideas :

Play ball. This is great for dogs that sniff around and use their noses a lot. Enhance a normal game of fetch by introducing some techniques often used when training search dogs. Hide the ball somewhere where the dog has to work by sniffing to find it. Then guide him into the area watching him follow his excellent sense of smell until he finds the toy.

You can play this inside or out. By shutting your dog outside a room you can go in with the ball and hide it. When you let him into the room he will search until he finds his toy. Vary things by placing the toy at different heights and touching a lot of the room on the way around. You will be creating disturbance for him to sniff at.

Scatter feeding is great for a hungry dog. Throw treats or his dried food around and he will become very excited wondering where the next sweetie will land. You can ask things of him when doing this, practice control like sit or down before throwing the treat.

Tug of war is another good game to play, a couple of rope toys and some treats and you can have a grand old time. Practice control by regularly offering either a treat or the other toy as a bartering tool. Your dog should easily let go when you are offering a swap. If he doesn’t just stop playing and this will let him know that he must swap or the game ends. Let him win the toy sometimes too, it will increase his confidence and keep him interested.

Activity toys are great to encourage a dog to play alone when you are busy. A ball or similar that can be stuffed with treats is a wonderful occupier for a food loving dog. An activity ball will be bashed around merrily until empty so probably best used outside or when the dog is alone.

If you are feeling stressed or just a little sad, play with your dog for a few minutes and it will put an entire new slant on the day.

Bang! How to Teach a Dog to Play Dead

By Sally Gutteridge | Posts , Tricks

The bang trick is great fun to watch and perform. A dog that is taught properly to respond to “Bang” as a command word will drop to the ground, when shot with a gun created from his handlers fingers, and stay perfectly still until a release cue is given.

This trick is very impressive when your dog can do it well. The skill used in how to teach a dog to play dead is mainly timing and reinforcement. It is a brilliant trick to teach with a clicker for this reason alone. We are however going to utilize a cue word rather than the clicker to teach this trick. By reinforcing with a word you will learn a lot about your own timing when giving commands to your dog.

Whilst showing you how to teach a dog to play dead we will use the cue word “good” and offer a treat as a follow up action. Your dog will quickly associate the word with his reward. The cue should be given at exactly the time your dog is carrying out the behavior that you would like to encourage.

Positive dog training

Modern, kind and motivational is a fantastic description of positive dog training.

During the process of how to teach a dog to play dead, you too can learn. There are certain personal rules that professional dog trainers follow in every training session. Whilst teaching your dog this trick, we will be following two of these rules.

The importance of timing during positive reinforcement

Positive reinforcement is the act of reinforcement with reward, of a behavior offered by your dog. Because a dog can offer more than one behavior at once, it can be easy to reinforce the wrong one. An example is a dog that sits and barks can easily associate a reward for either the sit or the bark. As the one teaching your dog, it is your responsibility to time the reinforcement to pinpoint exactly the behavior you want. Admittedly this timing is not as easy as it sounds.

How to use your voice to get the best results from your dog

We will be using only two words when teaching your dog this trick. These words are “good” and “bang”. One of the biggest dog training mistakes is to talk too much. If you are talking throughout the training session your voice will begin to have no effect.  It will simply sound to your dog, like a radio in the background. So challenge yourself to only say these two words whilst teaching your dog this trick.

How to teach a dog to play dead in easy stages

  • Prepare with small tasty treats and show your dog that you have them
  • When he sees the treats your dog may offer the behaviors that he has already learned, if one of them is to lie down then pinpoint this behavior with the word “good” and give him a treat
  •  If this behavior is not pre learned simply wait. Your dog will lie down eventually then use the word “good” and give him a treat.
  • You dog will soon associate the down position with “good” and a treat
  • Now he knows that the down position is beneficial begin to withhold the word “good” and allow him to work out what to do next. He will quickly attempt to get nearer to the floor.
  • Every time he offers a behavior that seems to lead to him lying on his side reinforce with “good” and give him a reward.
  • Keep this up and he will soon learn that lying on his side provokes the word and reward.
  • Now gradually introduce the word “bang” and the “finger gun” Use it as a prelude to “good” and his reward, you are associating the word to his lying down position.
  • Progress by withholding the two words and reward ever so slightly until your dog lies completely still on his side. Then further the progression by bringing the word “bang” and the “finger gun” forward so that you offer it as your dog begins to lie down. Keep the word “good” and reward for prolonging the position.

Depending on your individual dog this could take two to ten short sessions, every canine learns to a different timescale. If you pay attention to your timing, you will be able to see whether your dog has interpreted your reinforcement command, whilst you learn how to teach a dog to play dead, like a professional.

Dog Training Commands

By Sally Gutteridge | Posts , Training

Dog training commands are widespread and varied. The humble and loyal canine is employed within so many roles that the list of dog training commands is getting lengthier all the time.

In reality whatever we train our dogs to do can be called anything at all. We can ask a dog to sit by using the word “egg” if we want to, as long as we have shown the dog what the word means. Generally though the commands we teach to our dogs are far more sensible than “egg”

During competition training particular dog training commands are used. Dogs that carry out specific roles also have their own cue words. Here are some examples of dog training commands used within the English language on a daily basis.

Used in formal obedience and general pet obedience training;

  • Sit, probably the most used command, strangers are not adverse to walking up to any dog and asking for a sit response, and more often than not the dog will perform correctly.
  • Heel, asking the dog to walk at heel both on and off leash.
  • Down, used to ask the dog to lie down on command
  • Wait, can be a prelude to another command
  • Stay, similar to wait, sometimes used differently dependent on training establishment, the stay is often used for longer term out of sight stays, where the handler can expect the dog to wait for them for several minutes.
  • Come, recall, the command used to call a dog back to his handler and the one that many can struggle with.
  • Off, particularly useful for dogs that are disposed to jumping on people and furniture.

Flyball and agility training is often based around the dog training commands;

  • Up, jumping over things
  • Over, jumps and catwalk/a frames
  • Through, used to send the dog through the agility tunnel or tire jump
  • Steady, to slow an enthusiastic dog whist competing and agility circuit
  • Wait, used to steady a dog and prevent it missing crucial touch points on agility equipment
  • Fetch, a command used in flyball to encourage the dog to fetch the ball from the dispensing box. Very few formal command words are used in flyball either competition or training as the dog is encouraged to be fast and keen, the atmosphere and adrenaline at a flyball tournament is electrifying. During this activity, handlers often tell their dogs to “go” “fetch” and “come” or “come out”

Working dogs are often taught to respond to the generic obedience commands. Role dependent commands are also introduced; some of them are shown here;

  • Seek, a search dog command often used with military arms and explosive search dogs
  • Find, another search based command; this is used by tracking dog handlers as well as drugs detection dog handlers.
  • Find body, Search and rescue dog command. The target is referred to as the “body” often in these circles.
  • What is it, is used by hearing dog trainers to encourage the trained dog to lead to the source of sound after a positive alert
  • Forward, used by guide dog trainers when teaching the dog to lead a blind person
  • Fetch, Used by physical assistance dog trainers as a prefix to anything from phone, walking stick, coat, food item.
  • Chase or attack, Used in military dog training on release of a protection dog to detain an escaping suspect

Dog training commands vary, depending on the training establishment, the particular dog and the role employed for. Some of the commands used when teaching our dogs tricks are great fun;

  • Speak, barking on command
  • Quiet, cessation of barking
  • Bang, feign shooting the dog with our fingers
  • Sleep, feign a deep sleep
  • Spin, twist the dog around in a circle
  • Through, teaching the dog to run through our legs
  • Over, teaching the dog to jump a raised leg
  • Weave, a great trick where the dog walks through our legs as we walk
  • Wave, teach a sitting dog to wave or high five with one paw
  • Look left/right, reinforcement of the dog looking in a certain direction.
  • Stand tall, stand as tall as you can with your front paws up

Trick commands are great fun and can be used when reinforcing a broad range of impressive behaviors. You can even teach your dog to respond to dog training commands uniquely in a completely different language. You dog will relate to the tone and pitch of your voice rather than the word itself.

How to Train Your Dog to Sit using Positive Reinforcement

By Sally Gutteridge | Posts , Training

As a new dog owner it is perfectly normal to see your recent addition to the family as a complete mystery. Particularly with so much, and often conflicting, dog training advice available.

It is true that we are a completely different species to the canine and that we don’t speak the same language. It is possible however to communicate perfectly well and develop a great relationship with your new dog.

Dog training

Even when researching the command that we all initially teach our dog, how to train your dog to sit, you will encounter many training methods and lots of different advice. This advice can range from;

  • Push the dog’s rear to the ground
  • Lure with a treat
  • Punish if the dog doesn’t sit on command – (even a tug on the dogs collar is punishment)

To be a good dog trainer and kind to your new canine ignore all of the above. Methods that involve punishment are dated and unfair to the dog, any dog training type that is based on dominance and wolf behavior is also inaccurate. The only ethical way to train your dog is with kindness and positive reinforcement. Teach your dog with a suitable reward to ensure his attention and motivation during training sessions.

Reinforce with reward

Positive reinforcement is based on rewarding a behavior with pinpoint accuracy, often with a treat or toy. It can be very difficult to give your dog either of these rewards quickly therefore difficult to pinpoint a particular behavior. So we use a cue word or other sound to show the dog that this particular behavior has provided the reward.

It is fairly easy to teach your dog to associate a stimulus or sound with reward. In the early 1900’s Scientist Ivan Pavlov learned that dogs in his laboratory would salivate at the sound of a bell. This was after a short time ringing the bell before meals because they associated the bell sound with feeding time.

In modern dog training we utilize this association to teach our dogs how we would like them to behave. Clicker training is a prime example of this, the dog is taught to associate the click with a food reward. The click sound can then be used to pinpoint a behavior with accuracy and show the dog exactly which behavior earned him the reward.

How to train your dog to sit-the importance of timing

When working out how to train your dog to sit using reward and reinforcement timing is crucial. If your dog offers three different behaviors in succession it is easy to reinforce the wrong one. Positive reinforcement is based on accurate timing for reward. So if you are training your dog to sit and within two minutes he sits, jumps up and barks it is easy to reinforce any of those with inaccurate timing.

So to train your dog to sit for a reward be careful with your timing. It is easy for your dog to associate anything he is doing at the time with reinforcement. If you say good boy and give him a treat for any behavior he will always repeat that behavior in the hope of getting a treat.

How to train your dog to sit:

  • Decide on the association sound or word that you will use as a reinforcement tool (The prelude to the treat)
  • Show your dog a reward, something that he really likes and that will motivate him.
  • When you have his attention with the reward simply wait whilst he works out how he can get the treat from you.
  • Your dog may offer behaviors that he has already learned, if he does just ignore them
  • Eventually your dog will sit to try and work out what to do next, immediately reinforce with your association sound (click) or word. Then give him his treat.
  • Repeat this and each time you will see that your dog is offering the sit sooner. Your dog has learned to sit by working it out for himself in order to gain a reward.
  • Now you can introduce the command word sit, your dog will soon learn that this particular word is a prompt for the sit response.

When your dog learns with positive reinforcement he has to really think. The thinking involved ensures that your dog learns thoroughly and effectively. Each command you teach your dog by using this method will stay in his mind forever, for it is learned with motivation and a pleasurable experience.

Train your Dog Not to Bark by Getting the Behavior on Cue

By Sally Gutteridge | Behavior , Posts , Training

An incessant barking dog is sufficient to drive the most patient and loving dog owner slightly mad. The most tempting thing to do in this circumstance is to shout at the excited dog to stop. By doing this though you are only getting the dog more excited. In many cases he will believe that you are joining in and bark louder still.

The owner of a persistent and random barker in the home may develop a nervous twitch, never knowing when the next noisy tirade will be provoked. The dog that barks out on walks is just as distressing. Muttering apologies towards huffing strangers whilst dragging along a hollering canine is upsetting and infuriating for the most resilient of dog owners.

If you are the owner of a dog that seems pre-disposed to bark you may be surprised to learn that to stop this behavior it is necessary first to reinforce it. Yes, to train your dog not to bark you will first need to train him to bark on command.

Your dog needs to first associate a command to the behavior, then when that command is learned he will need to learn a specific command to stop the behavior. With my dogs I use the command word “speak” to encourage a bark, followed by the command word “quiet” to encourage the cessation of the barking.

Train your dog to bark on command using the clicker

  • Tune your dog into the clicker, ensuring he knows that every time he hears a click he will, without doubt receive a reward.
  • With your clicker and dog training treats wait for your dog to make a sound and reinforce with a click then reward. Begin to introduce the cue word that you want to use (speak)
  • Each time your dog makes a sound reinforce the behavior and soon your dog will begin to realize that to get his treat he will need to bark. Keep using the cue word too so that your dog associates it with the action.
  • By teaching your dog to bark you are introducing control over the action and eventually this will progress into your everyday lives.

Train your dog not to bark on command using the clicker

Now that he can bark on command it should be easy to train your dog not to bark using the same method.

  • Begin the training session as you did when you were teaching him to bark.
  • Give the command word that prompts him to bark and reward the action as usual then when there is a pause in his barking, pinpoint this with a click and introduce the other cue word (quiet).
  • Repeat this a few times then eliminate the cue for barking altogether, the aim now is to associate silence with the second and more useful cue word.
  • With practice you should be able to command a bark then command a silence.

You can now proof the command words by asking the dog to “speak” and “quiet” in many areas and situations. Build this up gradually to keep his excitement levels under control and make sure he is focused enough to obey them. Excellent dog trainers always set their dogs up for success; this builds confidence and enables more effective learning. Similarly, a good dog trainer will not issue a command word if the dog is too excited and is unlikely to respond.

When both of the command words are learned and proofed, you can begin to use them in situations where the dog would normally bark out of control. Begin by setting yourself and your dog up to succeed. Watch your dog and be aware that once his excitement levels are too high he will probably not respond. By keeping distractions and triggers for barking low to begin with, you can maintain his attention on you whilst you train your dog not to bark.

Eventually and when you have trained your dog not to bark, you will be able to use the command word effectively in all situations. Ensure that you get the command in quickly though and maintain the dogs focus on you with reward and reinforcement. This technique can be used alongside other obedience commands to maintain control of the behavior of your dog both in and outside of the home.

Recall Training – How to Train Your Dog to Come!

By Sally Gutteridge | Posts , Training

Recall training with your dog is crucial. The majority of dogs need to be able to run free to use up their energies on a daily basis. If your dog will not come back when called, then exercise can become a worrying and frustrating time.

The biggest thing to learn about recall with dogs is that you must be interesting and rewarding. If you are either irritated (by your dog’s lack of response) or offering your dog nothing worth coming back for, your attempts are unlikely to be successful.

Think of it this way, if someone is trying to get your attention and they look angry you are probably going to avoid them. You will not meet an aggressive look if you can help it. This avoidance also applies with an angry owner and a disgraced dog. The dog will be even less likely to come when called if he has previously experienced punishment on his return.

Body language

Look at your dog’s body language when he approaches you. If his head and tail are held low then he is uneasy returning. This reaction is often seen in dogs that have been rescued or suffered abuse in a previous home. To a dog lover this can be an upsetting behavior to encounter.  If your dog is displaying this behavior then you can work to change it with plentiful reward, praise and positive physical contact. Get low to the ground and gently guide him into you with a food or toy reward. Make coming back to you a fun and pleasing exercise.

Reinforce by Reward

A successful recall should be rewarded and reinforced. When learning how to train your dog to come back, you must keep this in mind throughout. If your dog has bounced around you just out of reach for 20 minutes it can be difficult to reward, but you must. The frustrated dog owner that grabs a reluctantly returning dog and tells him off is simply teaching more reluctance to return.

Recall can be taught in effective stages. Learning how to train your dog to come will be new for you too. The exercise is particularly enlightening if you have a new or difficult dog to train.

Stages of successful recall training

Begin calling your dog back on leash and rewarding him.

  • When you call your dog back guide him in to you with a treat. From the moment you ask him to come you must work hard to keep his attention only on you. So say his name, show him the treat and holding his reward at nose level guide him right back to you.
  • When he has recalled successfully hold his attention until you release him with your voice. This will prevent him learning to grab his reward and leave again. You can refine this by taking his collar, giving him the treat then partnering the release command (off you go or similar) with release of his collar.

When this process is smooth you can incorporate it into longer recall opportunities. These are best practiced first with no distractions then progressively including distractions such as dogs, people and other animals. Using a combination of techniques when working out how to train your dog to come will firstly get the best results and secondly help you decide what works for you and your particular dog.

  • Have someone hold your dog and then you run away, short distances at first then longer, dependent on your dog’s capabilities call your dog and as they release guide in with the reward as before. Take the dog’s collar and give reward then release command.
  • Recall races are great to improve motivation, two dogs held side by side and shown the treat in the same way will race keenly to you for the reward.
  • Changing direction when out walking with your dog off leash will encourage him to watch you, as will taking the opportunity to hide if it arises.
  • Call your dog back at random intervals during a walk. Reward and release will show the dog that he is not only called at the end of a walk, this will prevent him running away to prevent the walk ending.

Different breeds of dog will need varying training techniques in order to get the best from them in all areas. All dog training should be positive and reward based. With research of your dogs breed traits you will easily work out how to train your dog to come back. Remember that consistency and kindness paired with motivation and reinforcement will get the best results.

Dog Training Treats, The Cornerstone of Positive Dog Training!

By Sally Gutteridge | Food & Treats , Posts

Positive dog training is reward based and motivational. Training your dog in a positive manner will ensure that the two of you have a great relationship. Communication is increased immensely by reward based training, and reinforcement alongside reward is a really enjoyable way to teach your dog.

Some dogs have little interest in training treats. The toy motivated dog will work nicely for a tennis ball or tug on a toy rope. Most dogs however will become quickly and easily motivated by a whiff of smelly cheese or liver sausage.

Dog training treats – motivation for reward

By introducing dog training treats into your training sessions you will see the difference in your dog immediately. He will become motivated and want to earn his reward. He will be alert to the potential result of his behavior and responses. Your dog will perform knowing that a reward is possible.

It is a similar response to the human pay increase.

Pet shops sell many varieties of dog training treats. Some catered to the dog’s great sense of smell. Scent of nice treats can be extremely motivational to your dog. Similar to a freshly cooked meal that will make our mouths water in anticipation. Some pet shop treats are already catered to dog training and use with the clicker.

It is not necessary to buy pet shop dog training treats. Leftover meat or cheap sandwich meat will easily get a dog switched on to learning for his reward. Small squares of cheese will present the same result and for hungrier dog’s part of their daily meal.

Working out the value of dog training treats

The best way to use treats as reward is to work out their value to your dog. Dogs, like human beings have preferences. I know a Yorkshire terrier that becomes completely manic for a lick of an empty cream tub; he prefers sweet rewards such as doggy chocolate drops. (This is a special blend of dog training treats since pure chocolate can be quite toxic to dogs.)

When you know your dog you will be able to tell if his interest is piqued by a particular treat. You can test him out with various small amounts and see which he likes the best, and then you can use the favorite for ultimate motivation.

Dog Training Treats – Optimization of effect

There is little point using the treat that your dog likes best to carry out easy tasks. Reward should reflect motivational level needed. By beginning with lowest level of reward you can gradually build to higher value dog training treats to build your dog’s motivation.

Here are some ideas for reward treats beginning with lower value treats and working to the elite and tastiest food reward.

  • Carrot chunks
  • Cherry tomatoes
  • Daily ration of kibble
  • Small dog biscuits
  • Dry dog treats
  • Dog chocolate drops
  • Soft pet shop bought dog treats
  • Cheese
  • Cooked meat’s i.e. ham, sausage, hot dog sausage
  • Cooked liver and liver cake

Be careful with some human food. Any chocolate that is not specifically for dogs carries a toxic ingredient that is poisonous to the canine so steer well clear of this. Also be aware that much excess food in the form of dog training treats can cause weight gain.

Size of treats

To provide an effective motivational reward dog training treats should be tiny. A taste will leave your dog wanting more. Slivers of ham just big enough for your dog to taste will be sufficient reward. Think how the first tiny half square of tasty chocolate makes you feel, much better than you feel after devouring a large block of the same treat. It is paramount that you leave your dog wanting more throughout and at the end of a training session.

If dog training treats are too big your dog will lose learning momentum whilst the takes the time to eat them. He will also tire of them quicker therefore his motivation will wane sooner.

You can utilize the value of treats during training sessions. By having a stash of mixed treats ready your dog will never know if he is getting an average treat (piece of kibble) or something really special (square of liver) By alternating reward value you will maintain the motivation of your dog.

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