First step is to find their favorite reinforcer. If they find something rewarding, use it in training!
Reward based training methods work the best for dogs. After all, would you go to your job if you weren’t getting paid?
When we are teaching our dogs a task, we praise them as soon as they complete a behavior.
Whether it’s the use of a clicker or a verbal praise like “good boy, yes, super!” Following the praise is generally a reward, which is usually a treat.
Some trainers may teach intermittent reinforcement. This is when you only give your dog treats some of the time for the behaviors that they complete. For some dogs, this is okay because they enjoy working for the heck of it. With primitive dogs, I find that training on a 1:1 basis of behavior to reward, or giving your dog praise AND a reward every time they complete a behavior works best.
Food: Treats tend to be the easiest to use on the move. It is very rare that a dog is truly not food motivated. Evaluate the type of treat you are using. If the same old regular dog treats that you always buy haven’t motivated your dog in the past, don’t expect them to start being interesting now. Try novel, high value treats! Use boiled chicken/turkey breast, shredded cheese, freeze dried treats (meat, liver, and fish), lean cooked ground meat, plain yogurt, and meaty leftovers that aren’t super seasoned.
Toys: Some dogs love toys! They are pretty easy to use as a reinforcer as you can ask for a behavior and when they complete it, you can praise and reward with a little play. This is also a great way to burn some of their energy as well. Three types of toys come to mind when talking about toys as reinforcers.
Movement: There are dogs that love to chase! Whether it’s chasing you, a treat, or a toy, chase games are a great way to add extra value to your cues. Ask for a behavior, and as soon as they complete it, praise and run a few steps with them. If your dog gets excited about this, then that is likely a great reinforcer to throw in. For those dogs who love treats and movement, you can toss the treat or toy a few feet away so that they go after it. They tend to love this because it follows their natural patterns of chasing and for some, catching.
The Environment: This is a huge one for dogs and one of the most underrated forms of reinforcement. When we are training, one of the biggest distractions is the environment and all that lives in it. Squirrels, birds, smells can be challenging to overcome. If you use these as reinforcers for your dog, you will be able to harness the distraction and create focus around their favorite part of their walk!
Some may use rabbits as reinforcers, and no, they don’t let dogs catch them. When the dog notices the rabbit, call their name. When they look back at you, praise and reward them by giving some slack in the leash so they can run a couple steps towards the rabbit. The rabbit tends to hop a couple steps further when they do this. The rabbit’s movement is very interesting to some dogs. Then, give a cue to move on and then run away from the rabbit. This is a use of a different reinforcement method, the movement reinforcer discussed in the previous section.
You can also just use sniffing in the environment as a reward. This is a great choice for dogs who seem like all they can focus on is checking out smells. Dogs have incredibly powerful noses that can smell where other animals and novel scents have crossed. They are able to get a lot of information about that creature just from smelling. Think of the act of scenting as your dog checking into their social media.
If your dog is pulling you toward a smell, stop, and wait for them to look at you. As soon as they acknowledge you, praise them and allow them to go sniff. Once you have practiced this for a while, you will start to see your dog checking in with you before they go to smell rather than drag you.
Deciding which reinforcer to use is dependent on your specific dog. Not all dogs will find every one of these suggestions reinforcing.
Decompression, jumpy/mouthy dogs, leash walking, enrichment, body language, resource guarding, kids and dogs, respecting space, leash/dog reactivity, potty training, relaxation protocol & so much more can be found here:
Here is a great link to help with the crate training process.
Association of Professional Dog Trainers Position Statement:
The following statement reflects the opinion of the Association of Professional Dog Trainers.
The Association of Professional Dog Trainers recommends the use of crates for puppies and dogs as a short-term training tool and as safety equipment throughout the dog's life. Crates are a valuable tool for house training, as well as for managing the environment so dogs avoid developing problem behaviors such as destructive chewing and counter-surfing. Crates also provide safe restraint in the car, and make it easier to travel with your dog by providing short-term confinement options in a hotel or anywhere else you might visit.
Crate training also helps minimize stress during times of emergency, while boarding in a kennel or while spending a night at the vet clinic. When introduced properly, a crate becomes a safe place that many dogs seek out when they need a break from a hectic home environment. Introduce dogs to the crate gradually and make sure that it's a pleasant experience. It is important to choose a crate of appropriate size and adjust confinement times as the dog matures in order to build long term success. Avoid using the crate as punishment, and avoid crating a dog who is experiencing anxiety, whether that anxiety stems from the confinement itself, separation from a loved one, or from environmental factors like a thunderstorm or other dogs.
The APDT does not recommend the use of crates as a confinement tool for extended periods – this is a tool best used in conjunction with a comprehensive training and socialization program guided by a professional dog trainer. To find a trainer in your area visit the APDT trainer search page. For detailed tips on choosing a crate, introducing your dog to it, and appropriate crating schedules, see this article on our website at https://apdt.com/resource-center/crate-training/
Instead of punishing behavior we don't want to see, let's tell our dogs what we do want to see!
Barking problems are among the most common complaints that dog owners have. Why do dogs bark?
Well, for a variety of reasons. Dogs will bark if they feel threatened. They may bark when they play and get excited. Some dogs will bark for attention. Some will bark if they are in pain and they’ll even bark when they’re lonely, bored or stressed.
Certain breeds or breed types are also genetically inclined to bark more than others. How you’ll prevent or resolve your issue with barking will partially depend on what is triggering your dog to bark.
For example if your dog is barking or vocalizing because he’s in pain, treating the source of his pain would be the obvious solution. If your dog is barking through the front window as dogs pass by your house, blocking off his access to that window is a simple way to help prevent his barking.
Keep in mind that the more your dog practices barking the better he’ll get at it. So identifying what is triggering your dog to bark and if all possible, removing the trigger or trying to stop the barking before it occurs is the simplest way to prevent the barking. Anti-bark collars which use shock are inhumane and are inappropriate for most kinds of barking problems (and often make the problem worse!). With the right kind of help and a strong desire to stop the problem, most pet parents can successfully resolve barking issues in a safe and humane way.
The Alert Barker: If your dog is barking to alert you to someone or something outside, the answer is quite simple. Remove the source of what triggers his barking. For instance if your dog barks at people as they walk past your home, prevent his access to the window using furniture, closing blinds, blocking off the area with a baby gate or confining him to a room or his crate while you aren’t at home.
The Lonely Barker: Fortunately the remedy for the lonely barker is often simple. Try changing your dog’s environment a bit. Remember that your dog probably wants to be with people. Dogs who are left outside for long periods of time are often the worst offenders of barking. Your dog needs to play with you and feel like he is a part of the family. Dogs typically don’t do well when left alone for long periods of time. Make sure you set aside time for regular walks, playtime – even some training sessions. You’ll want to be sure that you give him the social contact that he needs to keep his body and mind occupied. Barking when left alone may also indicate separation anxiety. If you think that anxiety is the source of your dog’s barking, contact a professional dog trainer in your area who specializes in working with anxiety. You may also want to work with your veterinarian to see if medication is necessary to help improve your dog’s behavior.
Attention Barking: Attention seeking barking is a learned behavior! When your dog brings a toy over to you, drops it on the floor, barks and you pick it up and throw it. You have just taught your dog, “When I bark you play!” Even if you look at him or verbally scold your dog when he barks, you will still be teaching him that his barking is a successful way to get your attention. How can you remedy it? You need to ignore his demands. His barking may initially increase and so don’t give in or he will learn that persistence pays off. However, if he barks and you really ignore him or even better if you ignore him and walk away until he is quiet, he will eventually learn that barking doesn’t work and it will decrease.
Dogs chew for a variety of reasons. The main ones are teething, boredom, and separation anxiety. Puppies between four to six months of age chew because they are teething and chewing helps to ease their gum discomfort. You must provide your puppy with appropriate items to chew, and confine him to areas where there are no tempting objects such as sneakers, socks, children’s toys, or any other household objects.
Using a crate or baby gates are good ways to keep your puppy contained and keep the puppy safe from harmful items to chew, as well as protect your home from an eager puppy’s teeth! It is unfair to expect your puppy to know what he cannot chew if you allow him free run of your house and access to all of your personal items. If you use a crate make sure that you give your puppy some safe, durable chew toys to chew on while he is in his crate.
Excellent examples of chew toys for your puppy are Nylabones, sterilized bones, durable, hollow rubber toys like Kongs stuffed with a little bit of peanut butter, biscuits, yogurt, or other food items that are good for your puppy. If you have a puppy that is an aggressive chewer, avoid items such as rawhide or cow hooves. Dogs with powerful jaws can break up large bits of these items and swallow them, causing stomach obstructions and possible surgery to remove them.
Puppies experience pain in their gums as they lose their baby teeth and their adult teeth come in. You can give them ice cubes to chew on, which will help numb the painful feeling in their gums and jaw. You can also make “chicksicles” by putting some chicken broth in your ice cube tray.
Teach your puppy what toys are appropriate for him to chew on. When the puppy attempts to chew on something unacceptable, remove the object from the puppy’s mouth, and then give the puppy an acceptable toy to chew on. Praise the puppy when he starts to chew on the acceptable toy. You can use the same technique with an adult dog that you have just adopted. You can also teach your dog a “leave it” command to let go of objects, and it can be particularly useful when you walk your dog outside, as many dogs will tend to pick up less than desirable objects on the street like cigarette butts and trash.
Adult dogs who are bored will chew to give themselves something to do during the day when you are not at home, or in the evenings when you are home and not interacting with the dog.
Exercising your dog regularly can assist with ending destructive chewing, as a tired dog is a happy dog. Giving your dog an outlet to expend his pent-up energy is an excellent way to eliminate destructive behaviors, as a well-exercised dog will most likely want to relax and sleep in your home instead of finding things to chew on to work out his frustrations.
There are some excellent toys as well to provide your dog with mental stimulation when you are not home. Invest in some durable “dog puzzles”, such as the Buster Cube and the Kong. A Buster Cube is a hollow cube that you can ll with kibble or other treats, and the dog must gure out how to roll the cube around to get the treats. You can even feed your dog his or her breakfast in this way, as it will take the dog quite some time to get all the kibble out and help him to expend energy in a positive, fun way. Kongs are another toy that you can stuff with food and provide to your dog while you are either not at home, or preoccupied with household tasks. An expertly packed Kong full of food can be a challenging task for your dog and provide exercise for the dog’s gums and jaws as well.
1. What do Rewards Have to do with it?
It’s poetic to think that dogs live to please their masters, but the reality is that dogs live to please themselves. When we ask our dogs to do something, the first thought racing through their heads is, “What’s in it for me right now?” Behaviors that are rewarded are statistically more likely to be repeated, so when we regularly reward our dogs for a job well done, they’ll want to keep showing up for work! Not all rewards are created equal, and understanding what your dog finds rewarding is an important step in the training process.
2. Using Food in Training.
Food can be a very valuable reinforcer (paycheck!) for dogs during training. It’s one of a very short list of things that dogs are born already knowing is good. While most dogs easily learn to enjoy praise, petting and play – all of which also make good rewards — food still holds a special place in their mind due to its primal nature. Some people express concern about using food in training, worried they will create a dog who will only work if he knows there’s food. This is a valid concern, as it can happen if food is mis-used. The trick is to make sure that food is being used as a reward and not a bribe. There’s a big difference!
3. Reward vs. Bribe.
If you ask the dog to do something, he does it, and you give him a treat, that treat is a reward. If you ask the dog to do something he knows how to do, a behavior that he has demonstrated repeatedly on request for a long period of time, and he doesn’t do it, maybe you ask again. If he STILL doesn’t do it, and when you then reach into your pocket and get a treat, and all of the sudden the dog springs into action to comply with your original request, THAT treat just became a bribe! You asked him to do it, he didn’t, you got food, and he decided to get to work. Good training strives to avoid this.
4. Preventing Bribery.
The trick is to get the visual presence of the food out of the learning picture as soon as possible. For example, when lure-training (think cookie on the dog’s nose and over his head to achieve a sit), you want to get the cookie off his nose just as soon as you see him grasp the physical mechanics of the behavior. At that point, start using the same gesture minus the cookie, and reward the dog with a treat from your pocket once his rear is on the floor. This helps teach the dog the important lesson that he must successfully do the work before you’re willing to dole out the reward.
Another important tip for preventing accidental bribery is to make sure you have your dog’s attention before asking him to do something. Often, people resort to bribery because the dog didn’t respond the first time they asked – but when they asked, the dog wasn’t even paying attention. Try to avoid talking to your dog’s tail end! Before asking your dog to sit, lie down, or come when you call him, do your best to make sure he’s looking at you. Teach him to respond quickly to his name, so that when he’s distracted, using his name will prompt him to check in, at which point you can ask for the next behavior. You want him to respond to his name with the same enthusiasm that he responds to the words “Do you want a treat?”
5. Using Life Rewards in Addition to Food Treats.
Once your dog is reliably responding to your hand-signals, begin to vary how he gets his rewards. Sometimes use a treat, but often times, use something else he’s telling you he wants – like his leash put on to go for a walk, his favorite toy to be thrown, or an invitation to join you on the couch for snuggle time. By using these types of “life rewards,” you’re teaching your dog that keeping you happy by complying with your requests is the key to opening the door to everything good in his world – not just food treats! This also allows you to use food randomly – as a surprise – which is extremely exciting for dogs, and often motivates them to work even harder.
Tricks of the Trade Treat Tips:
Dominance Theory Common Behavior Myths
Myth: Your dog barks at you to tell you he’s in charge.
Fact: There are numerous underlying factors that can lead to excessive barking such as boredom, fear, and anxiety. Owners often inadvertently reinforce barking by giving the dog attention when they are barking, or yelling at the dog, which only strengthens the behavior over time.
How to change the behavior: Train the dog to bark and be quiet on cue. Proper daily exercise, interaction with a dog’s human family, and interactive toys such as Kongs® can decrease barking if the dog is barking out of boredom. For fearful and/or anxious dogs, determine what is causing the dog’s fears and work to desensitize him to them.
Myth: Dogs jump up on people to assert their height and rank over you.
Fact: Dogs jump up because they have been inadvertently reinforced to do so by inconsistent dog owners. Dogs jump up because they want to get closer to our faces to say hello. Dogs jump up because … it’s fun!
How to change the behavior: Teach the dog to sit when visitors enter the house and reward for this behavior. Teach the dog that he only gets attention, treats, etc. when he has all four paws on the floor. Make sure everyone who interacts with your dog is on the same page about turning their back on the dog when he jumps up so the behavior is not reinforced in the future.
Myth: Dogs pull on leash so they can get out in front of you and be in charge of you and the walk.
Fact: If every time the dog gets to go on a walk, they pull you along without being taught any different, they reasonably understand that this is how walks are supposed to be! Getting to go on a walk is a fun-filled and exciting activity for a dog. They pull because they’re enthusiastic and want to get out and enjoy the sights and smells of the outdoors.
How to change the behavior: Take the time to teach them what it is that you do want. Reinforce the dog heavily for staying next to you, and do not allow the dog to move forward if he is pulling. If your dog is too strong for you, use a management device such as a front clip harness, and use this in conjunction with teaching the dog not to pull.
American Veterinary Society of Animal Behavior (AVSAB) Position Statement on the Use of Dominance Theory in Behavior Modification of Animals.
Step 1: Look for our certifications
The designations are: CPDT-KA®, CPDT-KSA®, CBCC-KA®.
CPDT-KA® indicates that a dog trainer has passed a comprehensive exam and has at least 300 hours of dog training experience.
CPDT-KSA® indicates that a dog trainer has passed a comprehensive exam and an objective skills-based assessment along with at least 300 hours of dog training experience.
CBCC-KA® indicates that a dog behavior consultant has passed a comprehensive exam on behavior modification and has at least 300 hours of of dog behavior consulting experience.
Step 2: Assess the trainer
Browse the trainer’s website and any other marketing materials. Does everything look and sound professional? Do the messages appeal to you? If so, set up a phone call or in-person meeting. Can the trainer answer your questions about training, behavior, and methods knowledgeably and clearly? Are they patient and thorough in their replies? Do you feel comfortable with them? Do they have experience working with the problems you need help with? Can they provide references from clients?
Step 3: Beware of red flags
A couple of things should raise a red flag in your assessment. If the trainer focuses on a model of dominance and submission—using language like “dominant” and “alpha” —or uses primarily punishment based methods, that trainer doesn’t meet the standards of science-based training.
Find a trainer in your area:
Dark Horse Dogs, NFP
La Grange Highlands, Illinois, United States
Copyright © 2023 Dark Horse Dogs, NFP - All Rights Reserved.