Every behavior follows this pattern: something prompts the behavior (Antecedent), the dog responds (Behavior), something positive or negative happens as a result (Consequence).
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 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 the behavior.
Using the example above:
Recognize the antecedent and/or consequence: food on counter.
Control the antecedent and/or consequence: remove the food from the counter so it can’t be eaten, and reinforce the dog for being on his bed so he is not counter surfing.
Result: The behavior will eventually cease because staying on the bed is more reinforcing than getting on the counter.
If you’re attempting to teach your dog new behaviors you definitely want those behaviors to increase, so the consequence should always be something that’s reinforcing to the dog.
Managing antecedents to make the desired behavior easy, and controlling consequences to make the desired behavior worth performing are the keys to dog training. It’s as easy as ABC!
Of the hundreds of dogs I have taught Leave It to, none have picked it up as fast as 17-week old Daisy. In just 15 minutes she had it down pat! And learning Drop It she was just as fast and flawless! We practiced with food, socks, shoes, the kids' toys - all things she likes to take - and she would either leave it or drop it Every. Single. Time!
To help Rufus learn to relax we taught him to go to his crate on cue. The first step was to simply get him to walk into his crate, which we did by luring. After a few minutes we were able to raise our criteria so he would only be rewarded for going in and sitting. Finally, we raised our criteria again and only rewarded him for lying down in his crate. By the end of the session he was doing that pretty easily. Now we'll work on cueing from a distance.
When your dog is doing something you don't like, teach it do do something else. Sits, down, stays, and the other skills we teach our dogs are all what we call "incompatible behaviors". In other words, a dog can jump if she is sitting. A dog can't race around the house if she in a down/stay. When visiting another's house Jude gets very excited whenever people get up and move around. Today we practiced those incompatible behaviors and she did wonderfully!
Speedy, a 1-year old Labrador Retriever mix who was recently adopted, is extremely fearful of strangers. When I arrived she would charge me, growl and bark, then run away. I threw her bits of turkey as I made my way to a chair. As we talked I continued to drop treats on the floor until she eventually approached me to take them from my hand. By the end of our session she climbed on my lap to be petted, then posed for her photo. Pain free, force free, and fear free at work.
As is the case with many young dogs, Arya lacks impulse control, especially when it comes to chasing the cat. Today's session was focused on Wait and Stay and as you can see, with the help of the cat (and Goose the dog), Arya did extremely well.
Anyone with a Dachshund, or any short dog, will tell you how challenging it is to teach it to lie down. They are, after all, already close to the ground so it makes luring difficult. But Daisy defied the odds and learned how to both Sit and Down in less than 30 minutes. It was quite the accomplishment, especially since Daisy is just 15 weeks old.
Jazz did wonderfully with her Loose Leash Walking training. We reinforced her for staying
near us or looking at us, and taught her that pulling doesn't get her to move forward. During
our walk she met a new friend named Gracie, and Jazz didn't pull to meet her!
Jeff Dentler, CPDT-KA, FFCP, CTDI