Using Food Rewards – June 30, 2010

  • Treats need to be pea-sized OR SMALLER and easy to get to (pocket, training pouch or nearby table top).  They should be soft so your dog can chew quickly without leaving crumbs on the floor – plus soft treats are easier to break into small enough pieces


  • Distracting environments call for better treats.  You can usually get away with something like Cheerios or kibble in the house with no distractions, but for outside leash walking practice, whip out the cubed cheddar or hot dogs.


  • When in working with distractions, or a particularly challenging situation, feed lots of treats in a continuous fashion – to help your dog be successful.


  • A mix of treats is ideal so your dog never knows what’s coming.  Figure out what your dog really likes!


  • If you are having trouble with a particular behavior such as housetraining or coming when called – use your dog’s very favorite treats for these rewards and ONLY for rewarding these behaviors.


  • Once a behavior is learned, start rewarding randomly – start with ‘2-fers’ and gradually vary the intervals in which you reward, slowly decreasing over time but continue to reward occasionally – ‘slot machine effect’
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Teaching Your Dog Not to Jump

Jumping is a perfectly natural dog behavior.  However, it may not be the way you want your guests greeted when they come to your house.  You have already worked on sit for petting with a person approaching and here are some ideas for addressing the specific situation of people walking in the door at your home (which is different to your dog)

  • Prevention-If you know someone is coming to your house, put your dog away    while your guests   arrive.  When their coats are off and your guests are comfortably seated, release your dog.  If is best if you initially have a leash on your dog and you ask him to do some sits/downs/tricks.  This diffuses the need for a greeting ritual


  • Alternate behavior– Give your dog something to do that is incompatible with jumping on your guests.  Ou can ask your dog to sit or lay down at the door or send your dog to his mat.  These will all work, but will require practice.  Your guests will be one of the most intense distractions your dog will face.  Your work on Leave it, Sit and Down will help


  • Four on the Floor Some people prefer to teach their dog an active greeting as long as he keeps all four feet on the floor.  You can train your dog to do this by C/T each time his feet hit the floor.  Extend the time that his feet remain on the floor by withholding the click (just like you did for increasing the length of sits and downs)


  • Consistency – It is imperative that you be consistent about the behavior that you expect from your dog when guests arrive.  Put a sign on your door to explain what is going on.  This will not only give you a few extra seconds to put your training plan in place, but will also educate your guests about what is expected from them.  Make sure they understand that they should not reinforce the dog (with pats or smiles) for inappropriate behavior


  • Leave dog treats outside your door.  Show your guests how to lure your dog into a sit.  Your guests can then throw the treat down the hall to get the dog out of the vicinity of the door.  If your guests are consistent in asking for a sit, your dog will begin to offer a sit when he hears someone at the door.
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Fun Dog Quotes – June 28, 2010

“Lots of people talk to animals…. not very many listen though, and that’s the problem” – Benjamin Hoff

“If you want the best seat in the house…Move the dog…”  Anonymous

“If you think dogs can’t count, try putting three dog biscuits in your pocket and then give him only two.” – Phil Pastoret

“Dogs are not our whole lives, but they make our lives whole.”- Roger Caras

“If you pick up a starving dog and make him prosperous, he will not bite you; that is the principal difference between a dog and a man.” -Mark Twain

“If your dog is fat, you aren’t getting enough exercise.” – Unknown

“Anybody who doesn’t know what soap tastes like never washed a dog.” – Franklin Jones

“The average dog is a nicer person than the average person.” -Andy Rooney

“A dog is the only thing on earth that loves you more than he loves himself.”- Josh Billings

“There is no psychiatrist in the world like a puppy licking your face.” -Ben Williams

“The reason a dog has so many friends it that he wags his tail instead of his tongue.” – Anonymous

“Properly trained, a man can be dog’s best friend.” ~Corey Ford

“In order to really enjoy a dog, one doesn’t merely try to train him to be semi human. The point of it is to open oneself to the possibility of becoming partly a dog.” ~Edward Hoagland

“Listen to your dog when he is whispering instead of waiting until he is shouting at you.” ~Robyn Hood (TTouch Instructor) 

“Dogs aren’t into big agendas. They just want to know where & when it’s safe to pee.”
– Jean Donaldson

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Adding Difficulty Slowly – June 24, 2010

As you start to teach your puppy good manners, you need to be aware of his ability to learn in different situations.  You want to think in terms of teaching your puppy each behavior first at kindergarten level and working up very gradually to college level.  The factors that determine these grade levels – or degrees of difficulty- are location, distractions and distance.

When in a familiar or room, it’s easy for your puppy to learn.  When there are no distractions, it’s easy for your puppy to focus on you.  When you’re close to your puppy, it’s easier for him to pay attention.  If any one of these things changes, you’ve just skipped a grade or two.  So, if you move into a new room in the house, you’ve just increased the difficulty.  If you’re in the familiar room but there are toys on the floor (distractions), then you’ve just made it harder for your puppy.  And if you move 5 feet way, its now tougher for your puppy to focus on you. 

Be aware of these things as you teach your puppy any new behavior and always set up your training to allow your puppy to be successful.  Then move gradually from Kindergarten to College by changing just one variable at a time.

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Games to Train Your Dog – June 22, 2010


This is a GREAT game for energetic dogs that jump on people when overexcited.  This game teaches dogs to sit politely when asked to, even when very wound-up. Go Wild & Freeze becomes even more fun when children are included as players in the game because it teaches the kids a positive way to play with their puppy and manage his behavior.

What to do: First teach Fido to sit for a treat by holding one just above his nose then raising it slightly and moving it toward the back of his head. As the dog reaches upward for the treat, his rear will go to the floor in a sit. Click and give the treat.

Next, teach the kids and other players how to get the dog to sit for treats.  Now you’re ready to start the game!

Call “Go Wild!” and have everyone jump around, wiggle, wave arms, and make happy sounds. After a few seconds, call “Freeze!” and have everyone stop and stand tall. When the action stops, the player closest to the dog asks him to sit and rewards with a treat when he does.

Then start another round. Each time wait a little longer before calling “Freeze”… after a few rounds, Fido will automatically be sitting when the players stop and stand tall.

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Important Rules to Know – June 20, 2010

Focus on what you want your dog to do, not what you don’t want him to do

Ignore the behavior you don’t want and immediately reward an acceptable alternate behavior, ie, sitting vs. jumping

All consequences must be immediate

Training is all about providing consequences to the dog.

You have control of your dog’s access to everything he wants in life

Select the behavior you want to reward – make the dog do his part of the bargain first.

Rather than rely on a built in desire to please (fallacy), you need to build a desire to please by exploiting your control of the dog’s environment.

The more lively your dog gets, the quieter you should get

Avoid Blocking Signals (ie hand in treat jar)–make sure your dog is focused on you

You need to help your dog be successful – he has to understand what behavior gets rewarded

A history of reinforcement is what drives the dog’s behavior so reward the behavior you want repeated

Rewards must be of high value to your dog.  Use favorites for difficult training

Fade food rewards – put dog on a random reward schedule and use LIFE rewards – walks, play, belly rubs, etc instead of food over time

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Teaching a New Behavior – June 18, 2010

  • Use a food lure to get the behavior
  • Say the command  name only when you are SURE you’ll get the behavior
  • Fade the lure quickly – still reward, but don’t bribe
  • Start to say the command just BEFORE your puppy does the behavior
  • Reward while your puppy is still doing desired behavior, not after he moves
  • Make it fun
  • Make it harder – different places, distractions, duration
  • Practice a Release word – OK, All Done!!
  • Don’t over use puppy’s name
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Socializing Your Puppy – June 17, 2010

Socialization is the most important part of puppy training. Introduce your pup to as many people, places, and friendly dogs as you can. Have strangers feed your dog some treats.   Get your friends and family to do the homework with you and show them how to teach Sit, Down and Stand.  Good places to bring puppies include: Cub Scout or Brownie meetings, shopping centers, baseball and soccer games, and your friends’ houses.  Have a puppy party at home, invite lots of people of different ages and ethnicities, and practice  handling.

Read about socialization at http://www.aspcabehavior.org/articles/83/Socializing-Your-Puppy.aspx

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Teaching Nice Leash Walking – June 16, 2010

Courtesy of Dr. Ian Dunbar  (www.dogstardaily.com)

When your dog is five months old, puppyhood is over, and you will begin to realize that the canine weight-pulling record approximates ten thousand pounds. Dogs pull on-leash for many reasons. The view is always better for the lead dog. A tight leash provides the dog a “telegraph wire” that communicates the owner’s intentions, thus affording the dog the luxury of looking around and otherwise checking out the action. Pulling while on-leash appears to be intrinsically enjoyable for dogs. And we let them do it. Each second the leash is tight, each pulling moment is hugely reinforced by each step the dog takes, forging ahead to investigate the ever-exciting, ever-changing olfactory environment.

Here are a few dos and don’ts for teaching your dog to walk calmly on-leash:

DO practice leash walking around your house and yard from the very beginning, and take your puppy for walks in public as soon as he is old enough.

DON’T wait until your dog reaches adolescence before trying to teach him to walk on-leash in public, unless you wish to provide amusement for onlookers.

DO alternate short periods of 15 to 30 seconds when your dog walks by your side, with longer periods of a minute or so when your dog is allowed to range and sniff at the end of the leash. This motivates your dog to walk by your side, as walking side-by-side is regularly reinforced by permission to range and sniff.

DON’T expect your adolescent (or adult) dog to endlessly heel. He will learn that heeling is mutually exclusive to ranging and sniffing. He won’t want to heel and will grow to resent training and the trainer (you) for spoiling his fun.

DO consider training your dog to pull on-leash. Thus, instead of being a problem, pulling on-leash can be the solution, an effective reward to reinforce calmly walking by your side. Alternating slack-leash walking and pulling on-leash is enthusiastically endorsed by my Malamutes. Two paws up! Also, on-command leash-pulling is wonderful for ascending steep hills, pulling sleds, soapbox cars, and skateboards.

DON’T allow your dog to decide when to pull on leash.  When your dog tightens the leash, immediately stop, stand still, and wait. Once he slackens the leash, or better yet, once he sits, proceed with the walk.

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Fine Tune Your Training – June 15, 2010

Provide lots of feedback (praise for good, ‘uh-uh’ for no)

Provide prompt feedback and reward for what you want (ie, don’t reward sit when your dog gets up)

Raise criteria gradually, one at a time, and keep asking for more

Giving prompt/cue only once and wait or help your dog do what you want

Make sure your dog knows the behavior before you start using the cue

Don’t call your dog to come from a distance if you have no control over making it happen.  Always reward your dog for coming to you

Different locations and distractions require training from scratch

Don’t give things away ‘for free’ – always ask your dog to ‘say please’ with sit, down, eye contact, wait, etc. for things they want

Dogs still need practice

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