Category Archives for "Training"

The Dog Walking Formula

By Sally Gutteridge | Posts , Training

Dog walking can be made easy and fun by teaching your canine to behave nicely both on and off leash. This could take effort with some dogs, however all dogs will learn when taught properly, therefore the effort will be worth it.

To enjoy dog walking there are three areas that you can concentrate on. These are outlined below;

  • On leash obedience; teach your dog to be nice on the leash and not to simply drag you along to where he would like to go.
  • Off leash obedience; teach recall to your dog and educate him to stay nearby on walks.
  • Cope with distractions; it is up to you to teach your dog to be respectful of both other dogs and people. Teaching the first two behaviors will make this easier.

On leash obedience

On leash obedience is paramount if you are going to enjoy dog walking. If your dog is adept at dragging you around, then you will not enjoy your dog walking experiences.

Often check collars or similar equipment is available to improve the dog’s behavior on the leash. This type of equipment should really be avoided and it is not based on a positive experience for the dog. An exception to this is the use of a harness or head collar if the dog is simply too strong to handle. Both the harness or head collar can be used together with positive dog training to improve the dog’s behavior on leash.

It is quite easy to improve a dog’s behavior, when dog walking on leash, using positive reinforcement.

Positive reinforcement works by rewarding the behavior that you would like the dog to repeat. This reinforcement is amalgamated with the removal of any type of reward when the dog is behaving in an unhelpful manner.  So to improve leash walking it is important to encourage a loose leash by rewarding it.

Here is an example of how to carry this out in easy stages;

  • Get your dog ready for a walk and prepare with plenty of treats or his favorite toy.
  • You can begin this in the garden if you wish for you will only be rewarding a loose leash, the less distractions are better for training at this point.
  • Stand still with your dog then when the leash becomes slack quickly praise him and give a reward.
  • When the leash is continually slack and your dog is relaxed take a few steps in one direction. Then change direction whilst at the same time praising and rewarding your dog for a slack leash.
  • Extend the walking distance and try to keep your dog’s attention on you with the treats and unexpected change of direction. He will learn to watch you.
  • The trick is to build the distance walked but keep the leash slack. If at any point the leash becomes taut simply go back to standing still again and rebuild a slack leash.

Off leash obedience

Recall is very important when dog walking around people and other dogs. This is another habit that needs to be built gradually. Here are some recall stages and tips to help you successfully call your dog back;

  • Begin by calling your dog back whilst he is on the leash and rewarding him with a small treat
  • When you are certain that he will come back on the leash you can have someone hold your dog and call him a short distance to you for a treat. They will then drop the leash to the ground and to allow your dog to return to you. (This is useful because you can step on the leash to prevent last minute escape)
  • Increase the distance as your confidence and dogs capability increases.
  • Gradually introduce distractions but only when you believe your dog can cope with them.


If you have successfully trained your dog in on and off leash obedience by reinforcing his attention on you then you can begin to introduce distractions. Remember to always set your dog up for success by introducing distractions when he can cope with them. If you need to make his reward tastier or interesting when introducing distractions than that’s fine, as your dog learns you can lower the value of reward.

Stranger Danger: Advice on How to Train Your Dog

By Sally Gutteridge | Posts , Training

Many parks and recreation grounds have their particular group. The same group of people that wander around daily together whilst their lucky dogs run and socialize together, the dogs and people become friends and everyone wins.

Unfortunately in many parks there is also often the dangerous stranger. The regular walker who fancies himself (or herself) as the next charismatic well marketed celebrity dog trainer. Usually this individual is seen as somewhat of a nuisance; particularly to people that know the fundamentals of positive dog training. Unsolicited dog training advice is inconvenient, often incorrect and sometimes dangerous.

As new and naive dog owners, we are often pleased to receive any advice given with the aim of improving our dogs behavior. There are risks however involved with accepting and acting upon random advice. After all we wouldn’t accept advice on bringing up our children from strangers so why how to train your dog.

There are many dog training methods floating around in the average dog walking area. These range from hitting your dog with a rolled up newspaper to flicking your heel behind you to kick a poor unsuspecting dog. The kicking is a theory I have recently heard on how to train your dog to walk at heel. How the poor creature is supposed to make that connection is beyond me.

It is usual to hear the term “dominant” and “submissive” whilst out walking too. These terms are overused and often offered as an inaccurate description of whatever some poor dog has decided to do at the time of observation. Often these terms are also accompanied by a statement that an owner has to “be the boss” or “show the dog who is in charge”.

Show him whose boss!

Dominance is an unproven theory on how to train your dog, often and unfortunately this theory can also be quite unkind to dogs. Unsurprising for it is dog training based on a belief that the dog is always looking out for a way to take over the household.

Based on studies on behavior within wolf packs, the dominance theory advocates that every unhelpful dog behavior means that he is trying to occupy the position of leader within the “pack”. So when your dog pulls on the leash he is trying to physically lead, when he stares at your food he is not respecting your leadership, and when he jumps up he is trying to get close to your face to establish dominance.

Theories that aim to show you how to train your dog by dominance range from pretending to eat from the dogs bowl to lying in the dog bed.

Many spin off dog training techniques have appeared loosely based on the theory of dominance. Leadership and being the boss are two of them. Unfortunately for the poor dog’s any advice on establishing dominance often involves physical and/or psychological harm. The alpha roll being one of them, the owner is encouraged to roll a dog on its back to establish dominance. So a confused dog, confronted and rolled over by a misinformed owner is the result.

The truth

The truth behind this theory is that dogs do not want to rule. They do not look for weakness in their human being in order to attempt world domination. Training by trying to keep a dominant role is ridiculous. The dog will not understand what you are doing. You would be speaking to your dog in a language even further removed that the species distance between you and him already. If anyone offers you advice on how to train your dog involving any kind of dominance theory or showing him his place, please for your own and your dog’s sake walk away.

The only way to understand your dog is to accept that he learns by reinforcement from you, the people around you and his environment. If you reward helpful behavior then you are teaching him to repeat it. Similarly if you reward unhelpful behavior he will also repeat it, because he has learned that it is beneficial to him. Put some time into learning how to train your dog with kindness and positive reinforcement. Work out which behavior you may be keeping active by an inadvertent reward such as attention. Work with your dog, not against him with understanding and a mutual respect.

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.


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.

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.

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.

Focus Your Dog with Dog Training Games

By Sally Gutteridge | Posts , Training , Tricks

Dog training games provide so much more than mental stimulation to your dog. They enable handler control and encourage the dog to focus. They build the relationship between you and your dog and bring the same relationship onto another level.

A Dog’s Eye View

Imagine a dull lesson where you become confused and learn very little. No motivation is offered to encourage you to learn and the whole scenario leaves you feeling a little dull and dispirited. The person teaching you may look disappointed and frustrated throughout. You would certainly not look forward to the next lesson. In fact you could easily begin the dread these sessions and want to avoid them or withdraw into yourself.

Now imagine the same lesson taught in an upbeat and interesting manner. Fun is involved in the learning process. You are given a reward when you get things right and motivated by the promise of this reward. During this session you are encouraged to learn in stages that you can understand easily. You will leave this type of lesson with a sense of achievement and look forward to the next one.

Dog training games

Using dog training games to teach your dog anything will work. In my humble opinion the word games should be used far more frequently at the end of the phrase “dog training”. Even the word gives a good feeling and certainly accentuates the level at which a dog should be taught. By making any learning experience a game for your dog you will be employing positive dog training.

Control and Focus

Old fashioned dog training has claimed that a dog must have respect and be shown dominance. This is neither modern nor proven dog training. Many problems that people encounter with pet dogs can be controlled simply by teaching the dog control and focus. We have all witnessed the frustrated dog walker repeatedly and almost desperately issuing a sit command to an over excited dog. A dog that is that is neither looking at nor paying attention to him. At some point we have probably all been that poor dog walker, I certainly have.

There is no point in asking a dog to do anything if you do not have his attention. There is little point asking for his attention when highly distracted if you have not trained him to focus on you. By using dog training games you can bring your dog to a point where he looks directly to you for a reward when he sees a distraction.

Dog Training Game to Encourage Focus

A brilliant game to encourage control and steady focus is based on reward. It is a simple game that can be carried out over a few minutes, a few times a day and will provide quick and effective results. You will need a reward that the dog likes and a quick hand.

  • A food reward is probably best for this game, tiny pieces of something that the dog likes will be easy to work with and encourage the dog to want more. Smaller frequent treats are very motivating.
  • Get your dog in a sit position (I assume that you have taught your dog to sit), and then drop a treat on the floor. What you will want to do at this point, is reward a good choice on your dog’s part. If your dog lunges or tries to get to the treat, then immediately put your foot over the treat.
  • But on the other hand, if your dog is able to ignore the treat and looks at you, then give him another (and different) treat to reinforce this behavior.
  • When the game is over, you can tell him to “Get It!” so that he can get the treat on the floor, or pick it up and give it to him.
  • By proofing the command and lengthening the amount of time before rewarding, you are establishing focus and control and at the same time playing fun dog training games that allows your dog to think and gives your dog the opportunity to make a choice.
  • Try this with many different distractions, including toys, other people and even other dogs. As long as you have your dog on a leash and that he can’t leave you for the distraction, you should be able to reward the right choice.

When your dog knows to look to you before reacting to something, in this case his treat, he will eventually learn to do the same with other distractions. By employing this focus technique to all your dog training games you will obtain the best results.

Basic Dog Training 101

By Sally Gutteridge | Posts , Training

Basic dog training is not complicated. To train a dog is simply to teach him to do something. Dog training is often seen uniquely as teaching a dog to behave nicely, or do specific tricks to impress. What many people do not understand however is that is just as easy, if not easier, to train a dog to misbehave.

Simply put, much of the dog training that happens within the average home is not of the formal variety. If we react to our dogs behavior in a way that he finds rewarding, then we are training him to repeat that behavior. To a dog there are no good and bad behaviors, simply rewarding and non-rewarding behaviors. If we keep this in mind we can never accuse our dog of naughtiness for he is only carrying out an action that benefits him, often with reinforcement from us as his handler.

Unplanned rewarding behavior

With basic dog training, we need to work out what the dog may see as a reward. You may be surprised by the amount of human reactions that the dog may see as rewarding for instance;

  • Pushing the dog off when he jumps up – the dog receives physical interaction
  • Shouting at the dog – vocal interaction
  • Chasing the dog if he is running away – A really fun game

When interacting with your dog in any way begin to assess whether he sees the interaction as a reward. You will then be able to work out whether you are unwittingly reinforcing his behavior therefore encouraging it to continue.

One simple rule

A great rule to adhere to throughout your life with a dog, is simply ignoring the unhelpful behavior and reward the behavior that you would like him to repeat.

This rule is probably the most important thing to learn when you are carrying out basic dog training with a pet dog. Professional dog trainers that use reward and reinforce techniques apply this rule to everything they do.

Add motivation to the rule and you can teach your dog everything from perfect pet dog behavior to competition obedience and everything in between.

Positive dog training

The best basic dog training is positive and reward based. There is no room for any type of punishment within positive dog training. Punishment does not work and will produce a confused and unhappy dog.

Basic dog training commands

Basic commands can be easily taught in a positive manner. By reinforcement of a particular behavior, or specifics that may lead to the behavior, you are allowing the dog to work things out for himself.

Here are some of the most basic dog training commands and how to teach them using positive reinforcement:

  • Sit – Show the dog a reward then wait for him to sit. That’s it! Do not ask him to sit or lure him, do not touch him in any way and if he tries to jump up to get the treat hold it up higher. Take the treat further away if he tries to help himself to it.

Your dog will eventually sit. It is inevitable and when he does sit then reward him with the treat immediately.  Timing must be perfect for him to make the connection between action and reward. When you reward him add the word sit.

Repeat this and soon your dog will be sitting much sooner. He will work out what prompted the reward previously and offer the same behavior, easy.

  • Down – The down command can be taught in the same way. It may take longer as lying down will take more thought than sitting. An easy cheat to provoke your dog to lie down is to pop the treat under your foot. He will then lie down in order to try and get to the treat, when he is on the ground reward by lifting the foot and add the command word.

You can even tap your foot whilst it covers the treat. This will associate the tap with the lie down for a treat in your dog’s mind. You can then use the foot tap without a treat and reward the lying down directly from your hand.

  • Leash walking – Positive reinforcement can be used to encourage a slack leash when out walking. Simply by using reward when the leash slackens. There are various ways to encourage a slack leash. Changing direction, stopping walking and calling the dog back will all slacken the leash and then correct timing and reward can reinforce the behavior.

Basic dog training should always be a positive experience for both dog and owner.

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