We began Ellie's basic manners training with Wait and Stay because she already knows Sit and Down very well. She patiently waited for her food to be put down and for the door to be opened, and she also stayed in place while we walked out of the room and made distracting noises. She did a great job.
If you recall, Dewey is highly reactive to common household items like the vacuum cleaner (see an example here). After just two sessions of desensitization and counter-conditioning Dewey made tremendous strides to his reactivity to the vacuum. When we first uncovered it at 40 yards away he did bark at it, but after just a few repetitions he was offering a Conditioned Emotional Response (CER) by looking to his handler when the vacuum was turned on (see video below). Such great progress!
TIP #1: HOW TO STAY MOTIVATED
You’ve done all the right things when it comes to training your dog, and so far, it’s gone well: He knows how to sit and stay and shake, and he’s pleasant and polite to be around. But suddenly, training feels like a burden - and your dog doesn’t seem like he’s enjoying it, either. Time to give up? Not at all! You just need to work on getting motivated again, and here are five common motivational strategies for getting you back on track.
Taking an all-or-nothing approach. It's unreasonable to expect your dog to be trained and problem behaviors to be resolved in a single training session or class. Training needs to be ongoing; it is best done in short sessions throughout the day, lasting between 30 seconds and 10 minutes and through everyday interactions with your dog. Training is both a process and a way of life — not just a three hour class one Saturday a month.
Forgetting to set goals. Training can begin to feel like a burden when you lose track of your goals. Having something you and your dog are working toward can help you stay motivated. Keeping that end goal in mind - and celebrating small successes along the way - can help keep your motivation high.
Offering the wrong reward. Sometimes dogs will give up, because the effort they’re putting in isn’t paying off. For instance, your dog may consistently sit at home in exchange for lavish praise. But at the dog park, with competing distractions like new smells and other dogs, just praise may not be enough to get your dog to sit and stay. It’s important that you find the right reward for each situation, one that makes it worthwhile for your dog to do what you’re asking him to do.
Sticking with what’s not working. There is no one-size-fits-all training approach. Dogs are individuals with differences in learning style and motivation - and so are dog owners! If your dog is not progressing, you may need to change your approach to training. Your dog may not respond to a clicker but may be a champ when you use a food lure. It’s also possible that a lack of progress could be caused by an underlying medical issue or condition. If you suspect that this is the case, consult with your veterinarian right away.
Losing sight of how far you’ve come. It can be easy to forget where you and your dog started - and hard to see the progress that’s been made. Video recordings, written progress notes or feedback from friends and family who spend time around your dog can be helpful tools in gaining perspective on your progress. Though you may feel like your dog still has a long way to go, I suspect that you will be pleasantly surprised when you look back at how far he’s
Keep in mind as well that if your dog is struggling to master a new behavior, it's OK to back up and work on something a little simpler. This can help boost his confidence - and yours - and may get you both motivated to give the more difficult thing one more try. Finally, it’s OK to take a short hiatus from training. We all need a break at times. Taking a break from training doesn’t mean letting your dog do whatever he wants - remember, training should be part of your everyday interactions with your pooch. But if you’re really feeling burned out, give yourself permission to skip formal training sessions for a few days. Use the time to renew your attitude, training plan and goals, so you can return to training with renewed vigor and energy. This will help you and your dog continue to succeed.
- excerpted from Losing Interest In Training Your Dog? Here's How To Stay Motivated by Mikkel Becker
TIP #2: REAL LIFE TRAINING
One of the mistakes we often make with our dogs is thinking that dogs see training classes in the same way that we often see being in school - in other words, that learning is reserved for the classroom! In truth, dogs (and people) are constantly learning every second of every day. To have a truly well-mannered dog, you need to reinforce the behaviors that you want during the course of your daily life.
Take your dog with you when you go shopping. There are many stores that allow dogs. Always cal first to make sure of their dog-friendly policies. Once you are in the store, you can practice walking nicely on leash, sitting politely for petting and no jumping, and even stays in the aisles or under your chair or table if you are sitting and having a cup of coffee.
Take your dog on car rides. Even if you have a quick errand to run, such as to the bank or to a drive thru restaurant for food, take your dog along! You can practice stays with the dog getting in and out of your car, and going out is always a good socialization opportunity for the dog.
Practice sitting politely when guests come over every time a friend or relative visits. Practice sit stays when the mailman drops off your daily mail, when the garbage collection truck comes by, and when the newspaper deliveryman drops off your paper.
Practice sit and down stays while you are watching TV, on the phone, cooking, eating dinner, working at home on your computer, or while your children are doing their homework. The dog learns to be quiet and relaxed during times that you are busy and need to work.
Practice stays when you go to pick your children up from school or from extracurricular activities. Arrive a few minutes early and take your dog out on leash and have them stay while watching the busy parking lot full of children. This is a highly distracting atmosphere for the dog and it’s great practice for stays, as well as walking nicely on leash.
Use the recall cue in your house in the course of your daily activities, such as when you want the dog to come to eat his or her dinner, or when your dog runs to the front door or a window to bark at a squirrel or the mailman.
Use all of your dog’s behaviors to earn him “what he wants.” Make getting anything that your dog desires a learning opportunity! If your dog wants to go out, he has to sit for his leash to be put on, or lay down at the door, or do a trick instead. Do the same when your dog wants his dinner, or to play or be petted or get attention. It doesn’t really matter what behavior you ask for, as long as you ask the dog to do “something” in exchange for a valuable “life” reward.
Today's session was focused on Buster and his leash walking skills. He pulls a lot, so we
started off teaching him Heel to gain his focus. We then taught him how to walk with a loose leash by reinforcing him for being near us or looking at us.
This ball of fur is Jaxon, a 6-month old Labrador Retriever/Poodle mix. Jaxon likes to jump on people and counter surf, so we will be teaching him his basic manners.
Ellie is a 3-month old Rottweiler with a wonderful disposition. She is so calm and well-behaved for a young puppy. We will be helping her learn her basic manners as well as assisting
with the all-important socialization process.
Ginger's and Jasper's owners have already taught them a pretty solid stay, so our impulse
control training was focused more on Leave It tonight. We worked exclusively with Jasper
because he is the newcomer to the family. After a slow start he really began to grasp the
concept of the training and ended up doing extremely well.
Dewey, a 1-year old Australian Shepherd, is extremely reactive to common household items like brooms, shovels, and the ironing board, and we were able to successfully counter-condition him to the ironing board so it can be opened and closed without a reaction. Now we are on to the vacuum cleaner (check out the video, below). Because he is so reactive in the enclosed space of indoors we began our session outside. We actually had to go about 40 yards away in order for him not to react, but with systematic desensitization and counter-conditioning we were able to get within 10 yards!
TIP #1: EASY AS ABC
Every behavior follows this pattern: something prompts a behavior (the antecedent), the behavior happens, then there is a consequence (positive or negative) to the behavior.
In a training environment, some examples of antecedents are a food lure, a physical prompt, a verbal cue, or a hand signal that causes the behavior to occur. Then you have the behavior (the Sit or Down or Come), followed by the consequence of that behavior (food reward or life reward or other reinforcer). While the antecedent helped the behavior to happen, it’s the consequence of the behavior that will affect the dog positively or negatively and cause the behavior to increase or decrease.
Behaviors that are reinforced will be repeated, even if they’re unwanted behaviors. Remember to think about training from the dog’s perspective. What’s in it for the dog? Will the consequence be more likely increase or decrease the behavior? Keeping the consequence in mind is a great way to think of solutions for solving unwanted behaviors. If your dog is counter surfing, what’s in it for the dog? You left a sandwich on the counter (antecedent), the dog jumped up on the counter and ate the sandwich (behavior), and the dog filled his belly (consequence). Because the dog surely enjoyed the sandwich, the behavior of jumping up on the counter is more likely to increase because it was reinforced.
By recognizing and controlling the antecedent and/or the consequence you can change your dog's behavior.
TIP #2: WHY IS HE BARKING NOW?
Dogs bark for a variety of reasons.
1) Watchdog Barking serves the dual purpose of alerting other pack members that there is an intruder or change in the environment and warning the intruder that they have been noticed. Dogs bark much more than their ancestors, wolves, who hardly ever bark. In domesticating them, we have selected for more barking. The predisposition to watch-dog bark varies among breeds and individuals. The modifying principles are the same, though, whether you're trying to coax a little more barking out of a couch potato Newfoundland or tone down barking in a hair-trigger German Shepard or miniature schnauzer.
2) Request Barking starts off as a behavioral experiment by the dog, kind of a "let's see what this produces." Typical requests include opening doors, handouts from your plate, invitations to play, and being let out of a crate or confinement area. This behavior is a problem not because the dog tries out the experiment but because the experiment usually succeeds: the owner reinforces the barking by granting the request and a habit is born. Dogs zero in on whatever strategy works.
3) Spooky Barking occurs when the dog is fearful or uncomfortable about something in the environment. It's the dog's way of saying: "Back off - don't come any closer." This is much more serious than garden variety watchdog barking because the dog in question is advertising that he is afraid and therefore potentially dangerous if approached.
4) Boredom Barking can result when the dog's daily needs for exercise and social and mental stimulation aren't met. The dog barks compulsively. This is very much like pacing back and forth, tail-chasing or self-mutilation. Chained dogs and dogs left outdoors in yards are at high risk.
When you know why your dog is barking (the antecedent) you can take the proper steps to change the behavior.
- excerpted from The Culture Clash
Jeff Dentler, CPDT-KA, FFCP, CTDI