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Saturday, September 4, 2010

Why train?

Why train your dog?  My question is why not?  Spending time training your dog has so many benefits for you, your dog, and your relationship.  Training establishes relationship, enhances relationship, builds relationship, opens the lines of communication, teaches both you and your dog how to communicate with each other, helps you and your dog learn to focus and pay attention, shows the world that you care enough about your dog to expect certain things.  

I often compare and contrast dogs and children.  It's not necessarily a fair comparison as they are very different and should be treated in very different ways.  But, for us as humans, it's an easy way to learn about training our dogs and interacting with our dogs.  What comes into your mind when you see children misbehaving, throwing a temper tantrum, or wreaking havoc?  Most of us look to the parents -- the parents have not done something they should have or have done something they shouldn't have.  It should be the same with dogs.  If they are tearing up the yard, barking incessantly, or chewing on your furniture, we should be looking at ourselves and our relationship with our dogs.  We can love our dogs without limit, but we need to set limits on our dogs to show them, and the world, how much we love them.

Training your dog helps your dog to know what it is you want and expect from him.  There are an infinite number of ways to do things incorrectly, but only one way to do things the right way.  Using positive reinforcement clicker training, we can teach our dogs the one right way to do things and as a result, will find ourselves saying "no" much, much less.  If you pair positive reinforcement with absolutely no attention when your dog does something you don't want repeated, the results will be quick, long-lasting, and understood by your dog.

For example, does your dog jump on you or on guests?  Teach them what you would prefer them to do.  Get some yummy treats, your clicker, and your dog with his collar and leash on.  If you are alone, secure your dog to a banister or a table or something that will be solid; if you can get someone to help you, have them "be a tree" -- they will hold the loop of the leash tight to their waist, stand still, and do nothing at all.  Walk up to your dog, if he doesn't jump on you, click and treat.  If he jumps on you, immediately turn your back and walk away for a few seconds.  Return to your dog, repeat the sequence.  You don't need to say anything at all!!!  If you would like to praise your dog for good behavior, go ahead, but otherwise, you don't need to say anything.  Once your dog has figured out that jumping gets him nothing and keeping all four feet on the floor gets him a yummy treat, you can start teaching an "incompatible" behavior, like sitting when people come into the house.  If your dog is sitting, he can't be jumping.  Using the same sequence, we cue the dog to sit before clicking and treating.  At first, just wait for your dog to sit, click and treat.  When he's doing that, add a physical cue and last, add the verbal cue.  Ta-da!!!  Your dog is no longer jumping on people!!!  It really is that simple.  Train for a minute or two, three to five times per day and you will see definite results in a very short amount of time.  (Don't train for more than a few minutes at a time -- science tells us that most dogs learn best in short, frequent training sessions.)

We encourage people to seek out and utilize positive reinforcement professional dog trainers.  Even if you don't take a training class, their resources and knowledge are invaluable to you and your dog.  We (personally) are always happy to help people over the phone or via email -- our goal is to help people establish and maintain a positive relationship with their dogs.

Why train?  Because it's good for both you and your dog.  Today, teach your dog the right way to do something!  Happy Clicking and Happy Saturday Pet Blogger Hop!!!


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