Training Reminders – January 18, 2011

1. Work=play=work. All play is fun and so all work should be as well. If your dog makes a decision during play (example he grabs his toy without being invited to do so) you are reinforcing his right to make decisions during working with you as well (ahh, maybe I will chase the cat rather then practice A Frames right now!).

2. POSITIVE does not equal PERMISSIVE. This is the guiding principle of Say Yes Dog Training. You must be consistent. If a behavior is acceptable at home (example the dog choosing not to lie down when told) it is also acceptable during work. Approach training and home life with a patient disposition and a strict application of what is and isn’t acceptable. Training happens 24 hours a day 7 days a week; your dog is always learning regardless if you are actively training or not!

3. Behaviors are shaped by CONSEQUENCES. Be aware of what is reinforcing your dog. Review and alter your list of reinforcers as your dog grows up, especially the “activities that reinforce” section.

4. Use your RECALL, to evaluate your relationship with your dog. Be diligent at making improvements each day in the level of intensity your dog has for working with you. Work at building a better relationship with your dog rather than making excuses for his performance. Work with the dog on the end of your leash — and turn him into a dog other people wish they had!

5. Be aware of what RESPONSE you are rewarding each time you give out a cookie or toy. What did you click—did you see eyes? Did you want to see eyes when your dog is performing that skill? What did you intend to reinforce? Does the dog know?

6. VIDEO at least one training session every second week. More if possible. If progress isn’t as fast as you think it should be for one particular skill, video three or four consecutive training sessions of that one skill (each video clip should be no longer than 3-7 minutes). Review each video individually upon completion – then view and evaluate the entire series. What did you reinforce? Can you pick out why your session isn’t progressing as fast as you would like? If you can’t critique it yourself, ask a friend to review it with you.

7. THINK, PLAN, DO, REVIEW. Plan your work and work your plan. Time your session or count reinforcements so you don’t train your dog to exhaustion. Do not begin to train until you have worked through your mechanical skills and planned where you will deliver your rewards. Keep your training session short! After each session, write in a journal recording your progress and plans for future sessions. Do what will assist you reaching your goals; do not get wrapped up in “finishing as sequence or exercise”. Do what is best for your dog!

8. MIX UP YOUR REINFORCEMENTS so that you are working with toys and food. Only offer a reward you know your dog will want. Once a reward is offered, do not accept your dog not taking it. You can use food to reinforce an attempt to play (or the other way around) but never use food to reinforce a dog that has declined the opportunity to play or decided to stop playing. What would you be rewarding? Of course you would have rewarded your dog for making the decision to NOT play with you (and remember work=play).

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