Advanced Dog Training Points For Conditioning Your Dog

Akeisha wrote to a friend of mine with some very good questions. I’ve included her letter (and my responses) below:

Hi,

It’s Akeisha again.

I do see what you mean if it is on all the time the dog will soon forget it is on and then will behave regardless. Ok, so the dog never wears a buckle collar again? This is what irks me. I want to be able to control the dog regardless of what collar is on not just the pinch or it could be no collar at all and the dog still behaves. What if the owner for some reason takes off the collar then they put the buckle collar on for ID but then forget the pinch collar? Then there is no control.

[Adam Replies] WRONG! The dog gets conditioned. Take off the collar for awhile. Doesn’t matter.

Do you ever in the training go back to the buckle collar after months of what you recommend with a dog that is happy with doing the commands?

[Adam Replies] Yes, the dog does the command because he is happy and he likes it. But eventually, there will be something that tempts him. This is where conditioning comes in.

Think of it like this: You’ve lived in the same house for 10 years, right? You get up in the middle of the night and you reach for the light switch that is to the LEFT of the door. Pretty soon, you get conditioned to reach out to the LEFT of the door.

One day you travel and stay in a hotel. You wake up in the middle of the night and reach out to the LEFT of the door for the switch… even though you cognitively saw that the switch is on the RIGHT.

In fact, you may wake up for several nights– perhaps even weeks or months– and still reach out to the LEFT, even though the switch is now on the right. Some people will continue reaching to the LEFT for the rest of their lives. Some will begin reaching to the right.

Those people need to be reinforced. Get it?

Motivational corrections if on the right dog won’t frighten them or make them hate you I know but aren’t there other ways except using the collar that will eventually be established thought training that will allow you to take the collar off and have control?

[Adam Replies] Yeah, this way you can take the collar off and have control, ONCE THE DOG IS CONDITIONED. But eventually you’ll have to go back and reinforce, for most dogs. And definitely if you start expecting to work the dog around new distractions that it’s never been proofed around, such as chickens if the dog has never seen chickens.

Look, I don’t make the rules. The dog is not a robot that you can suddenly say, “He’s done” and expect him to act consistently for the rest of his life. Like any relationship you have with another person, boundaries need to be established and maintained. The dog is like your wife or husband… they will eventually test you. 🙂

Last question, how can the dog not realize the don’t have it on since it feels a lot different than the buckle? Its like my id around my neck at school I have gotten used to it but I do realize when it is off? Just for the record I have no problem with pinches, many members in my 4-H club use them and they work great on the right dog.

[Adam Replies] Because the way you should be using the pinch collar is that the dog (since he has limited reason and logic) does not KNOW that it is the pinch collar that allows you to give him good corrections. But it’s more than the pinch collar. If I put the dog in a number of small yards, with no collar on … and I’m able to chase him down and make him come back to me, if he doesn’t come when I call… then the dog will learn THE UNDERLYING PREMISE that I can make him do it, if he doesn’t. So, the pinch collar and the long line make my job easier, but ultimately, the dog knows (or he thinks at least) that I am a man of my word and when I tell him to do something: If he doesn’t do it, I’m going to make him do it. And his life will be a lot more fun if he does it willingly. So the dog starts to extrapolate this principle to other commands, too.

Hope I am not being irritating I just like to know why certain trainers value certain methods over others since I love competing in obedience with my dog.

[Adam Replies] Keep training.

That’s all for now, folks!

Clicker Training Your Dog

If you are looking to train your dog you might consider using the ‘clicker training’ method, which has recently become popular among dog trainers all over the country. In this method the trainer has to make use of a clicker, a tiny plastic box with a metal button which makes a distinctive click sound once the button has been pressed. The training method is simple and is in many ways parallel to the positive training method. Here is what you have to do. Decide on a certain behavior which you want to teach or reinforce your dog to do. A number of behaviors/actions come naturally to the dog like sitting, eating, standing, barking etc. and these need just to be reinforced so that your dog knows when you want him to do what. Various other actions like acting dead, shaking hands, rolling over etc. do not come naturally to the dog and need to be taught. Clicker training can be used to do both.

Clicker training works according to the basic principles of operant conditioning, by associating the sound of the clicker with a food item which the dog particularly likes. Now all you have to do is use the clicker to command the dog to do something, the dog, given that he associates the sound of the clicker with the food, immediately obliges and the training is complete.

Let us take an example to illustrate the method better, suppose you want to teach your dog to sit, you put a cookie on your dog’s nose playfully and then move it upwards, the dog will obviously follow the movement of the biscuit with its nose and will then naturally rest its posterior on the floor, thereby putting himself in a sitting position. Now time your clicking to be so accurate as to occur right as the dog seats himself, now give him the biscuit and praise him. Continue doing this for sometime till the dog begins to associate the clicking with the food until the click makes him sit without you luring him with treats. Now teach him another behavior, but remember to attach the clicking cue only once the animal himself offers you the behavior otherwise the clicking will not be connected to anything in the dog’s head and he will be confused regarding what it means.

Your dog is one smart little animal and it’s time you gave him due credit for that. A number of trainers have been known to use negative reinforcement techniques alongside the clicker method but this simply doesn’t work because punishment at all times creates a number of unwanted behavior even if it serves the primary purpose of teaching the dog to not do something temporarily.

Dog Obedience Training Ideas

Which dog owner won’t feel proud of his disciplined dog? Reversely, who won’t feel ashamed of an unruly dog? It is very important for your dog to be absolutely obedient to commands of his owner. You can’t expect your dog to be obedient by birth or nature. You have to take pains to make him understand obey your commands.

Obedience training to your dog can be imparted in many ways – two of the more popular methods are typically carrot and stick methods. First method heavily depends on the stick or punishment approach. Second method deals with the reward system for the dog.

Leash and collar method of dog obedience training has survived for a long time now. It is primitive but still mostly followed. The premises of this training method are based here – leash will be the mode of communication with the dog. Dog must understand the commands, and if not obeyed to, leash should be put to action. Using leash alone is not sufficient – dog must be made aware of the good and bad behavior. Once tracked on the path to bad behavior, dog can be punished with the leash.

Reward system doesn’t believe in punishing the dog. It follows psychological approach to deal with dog training. Dog is made to know the good parts of behavior and rewarded for the same. His ugly behavior is neglected in the form of psychological treatment. The trainer or owner walks away from the dog immediately after the show of bad behavior. Dog is an intelligent animal to understand the difference between the bad and good behavior.

Whatever technique is used for dog obedience training, it is important to know that the training must be consistent. Dogs get easily confused due to double standards employed. If you expect your dog never to jump on the bed, never let or invite him on the bed. Ensure that your dog never reaches the bed.

Obedience training starts on the fundamental issues like sitting, standing, walking, listening to your commands & following those, sitting in the car, etc.

The dog owner can easily impart obedience training. You may find alternates to this by getting your dog enrolled with some obedience classes or dog instructor. Evaluate all the training techniques, methods, equipment, infrastructure, experience, etc before taking the final decision on outside help. Remember, the most ideal way will be yourself to be the instructor. Your dog will love it.

Consider All Dog Training Options

It’s not so much the kind of obedience training you do with your dog, but actually doing any training. Most of the dogs in your neighborhood or the dogs owned by your family and friends are probably not trained well, if at all. Isn’t that alone a reason to train your dog better?

There are four basic options for training your dog: enrolling in a class, sending the dog away to be trained, training on your own or working individually with a trainer.

The first option is to take a class with your dog. A vet might recommend a professional trainer near you. I take my mutt to an obedience class with about ten other people and dogs. I think it is a lot of fun and so does he. These classes run many times a year and last for about seven weeks. In this setting, a trainer works with the group on things like sit, stay and walking on a lose leash. The setting is a good way for dogs to get used to listening to their humans when there are a lot of distractions. Most instructors offer four or five levels of obedience, starting with puppy preschool through preparation for the show ring.

For a second option, you can take your dog to a training facility either during the day (like day camp) or for a few weeks or months at a time. Someone else will then begin training your dog. I never recommend this option but someone who is often traveling or too busy or simply unwilling to learn to train a dog might see no other away. The reasons I think this is a terrible idea is because a dog learns to respect and respond to whoever trains them because the dog will accept that person as a leader. For this reason, I will always train my own dogs. Some people expect their dogs to come back from places like these totally trained, and that just isn’t possible. Training a dog takes years of commitment and never ends.

A Guide To Dog Training

Before starting dog training, it is best that you know your options well. These days you can find many types of dog training, in many different places. These trainings vary in price and each one them has something different to offer.

The first type of dog training is known as puppy preschool. This is a dog training course meant for puppies that are about 6 weeks to 5 months old. These puppy preschool classes generally last for no more than 6 to 8 weeks. In these training sessions, your puppy is essentially taught how to socialize with people and as well as other puppies. Here your puppy also begins to learn how to sit down, stay at a place, and how to come.

The second type of dog training course is meant for the dogs that are at least 5 months old. This type of dog training is known as the basic dog training. The duration of these classes is usually about 8 to 10 weeks. This is the basic course, where your dog is taught the art of walking properly on a leash, sitting, staying, coming and heeling.

The third type of dog training course is known as the intermediate dog training. This dog training aims at teaching the dog mostly the same things that are taught in the basic training course, in a more detailed form. Here the dog is trained to stay for a longer span of time, and is also taught to follow the orders given by other people.

The intermediate dog training generally lasts for about 8 to 10 weeks, and is meant for those that are no less than 5 months old. It is essential for the dog to have completed its basic dog training course, or to be accustomed to the basic commands that could have been taught by the owner.

The next type of training course is known as the advanced dog training course. Here, once again, the course is quite similar to its previous one, i.e., the intermediate dog training course, except for the fact that this time it is more detailed. Here, the dog is taught how to sit even without you in the view.

This training course is about 8 to 10 weeks long, and is meant for those that have completed their intermediate training. Here, they are also trained to walk beside their owners without a leash. Moreover, it gradually prepares the dog to take the Canine Good Citizen training course. The Canine Good Citizen training for dogs is the last course. To pass this course, your dog will be taught the 10 necessary aspects.

This course is strictly meant for those dogs that have completed all the previous courses. The test is quite tough and can only be passed if the dog is really well behaved. Depending on whether your dog can pass, the course can last for several weeks.

Keeping this information in mind, you should be able to decide the dog training course best suited for your dog. However, you may seek the opinion of your local dog trainers to know more. Many trainers consult for free. So now you should be at least a step closer to introducing your dog into a training course!