Shadow learns so quickly that we taught him Leave It in about half an hour! So that gave us plenty of time to practice with the things he loves to take like balls of yarn, tissues, and paper towels. By the end of our session he was ignoring them all!
TIP #1: TEACH GOOD CHEWING CHOICES
Audition a range of chewies until you find the ones that most appeal to your dog. Dogs have texture preferences, so try to match what yours like. If he is attacking the couch pillows, try giving him plush toys. If he is eyeing the table leg, try a bone. Praise liberally when your dog chews something allowed.
TIP #2: REPLACEMENT BEHAVIORS
To fix nuisance behaviors train and reward an opposite or competing behavior. For example, Rowdy can't jump on Grandma if he's sitting to greet her. He can't bark at visitors if he has a toy in his mouth, or beg at the dinner table if he is in a down-stay on his bed, or pull on his leash if he's by your side making eye contact every five seconds. Whatever bothersome behavior the dog is engaging in, think of something that would preclude it, and train that behavior consistently.
- excerpted from Decoding Your Dog
Piper concluded her basic training by learning Heel and Loose Leash Walking. Because she is so social she struggles a bit when people or dogs are nearby, but does very well when there are limited distractions. With practice she will do fine.
Wade had a full plate tonight. First, we taught him Down, and he learned it super quickly. We then taught him Wait and Stay, and he did both well. He is a fast learner!
I am a strong advocate of talking to your dog to build the kind of relationship that gets results. But sometimes our verbal diarrhea gets in the way of the message we are trying to convey. I just took Ash for what turned out to be one of the best walks we ever had, and I hardly said a word to her. But I obviously communicated to her very clearly and in a way she could understand because she didn't pull - at all.
A little background: Six years ago, before I became a dog trainer, we adopted Ash. She was 2 at the time and came with some bad habits, like pulling on the leash. I tried choke collars, jerking on the leash, all those old-school ways of dog training, and none of them worked. I eventually stopped walking her because I absolutely hated the experience. She probably wasn't very fond of it either. Fast forward to 3 years ago when I went to school to become a dog trainer and learned how to properly teach a dog how to walk nicely on a leash. Ash and I now walk a lot, and it is an enjoyable experience every time, although I often have to tell her to "slow down" as she forges ahead. She will pull a bit if she sees a squirrel, rabbit, or other critter, but today she didn't. She just stood there and watched a squirrel, then looked at me, then looked back at the squirrel, then back at me. This went on for a minute or two, then we went on our way. So, what secret form of communication did I use to get this incredible result? A clicker.
I've used a clicker on our walks before. I teach other people to walk their dogs using a clicker. But I've never used JUST the clicker. I usually tell the dogs "heel", "let's walk", or "slow down" to try to teach what I want them to do, and when they do it I click and treat them with a piece of food to reinforce the behavior they just did. But I just wasn't getting those stellar results I was looking for. This time I decided to try something different. I shut my mouth, and it worked! (My wife has been telling me that for years!)
So I challenge you. Teach your dog something without saying a word. It's easier than you think. Dogs don't speak our language anyway, but they do understand our body language. They do understand when they've done something right as long as we communicate that to them (with a clicker!). And they will do it again if they are reinforced with something they really like.
Go ahead. Just shut up and do it!
Today Shadow learned how to Wait and Stay. He did so well that even when we had unexpected visitors right in the middle of training - the mailman and the FedEx man - we were able to put him in a Sit/Stay and answer the door!
TIP #1: PUPPY OR SHARK?
Has puppy nipping left you wondering if you mistakenly adopted a Great White shark? Smear some butter or peanut butter on your hand and every time your puppy licks it reinforce that behavior with plenty of praise and a tasty treat.
TIP #2: TEACH RECALL EARLY
A good recall cue is vital for safety of your puppy or dog in all environments, and the sooner you start teaching it, the more reliable it will be.
Most puppies will "come" to you whenever you decide to walk away because they instinctively like to follow you. The easiest way to teach your new puppy or dog the "come" cue is to begin using it as soon as you bring them home:
Even though Jethro was already taught how to sit, we taught him and his people how to also do it with a hand signal. We also taught him how to Down with both a verbal and hand cue.
Jeff Dentler, CPDT-KA, CTDI