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Dog Training and Consistency

Consistency is a major part of successful dog training.  Consistency in training accomplishes three important points:

  1. YOU establish who is in control, and it should be YOU.
  2. Your dog will feel more comfortable and secure in knowing what’s expected.
  3. Your dog will know the difference between acceptable and unacceptable behaviors.

Dogs are creatures of habit and are very routine-oriented.  The more routine your training schedule is, the easier it becomes for your dog to learn and continue learning.  Try to work with your dog every day.  Walks are a great time to work on your training.  Distractions are everywhere.  People, other dogs, children playing, squirrels and rabbits all serve to create an ideal proving ground for your handler skills.

ALWAYS EXPECT THE CORRECT RESPONSE TO A COMMAND…After your dog learns the correct behavior to a command, and you give him that command, he should do it!  If you let the dog get away with ignoring a command once, he will use that new-found loophole from that time forward!  One easy rule to keep in mind for your dog is “You Have To”.

BE CONSISTENT IN YOUR USE OF VERBAL COMMANDS…Always use the same word for a certain command – every time.  One day don’t say “Come” and the next day say “Come Here”.

THE POWER OF PRAISE…Praised Behavior results in Repeated Behavior.  When your dog listens and responds to your command, reward him!  A touch, verbal praise (in a light, excited tone) or a release command all can serve as a reward to your dog.

REPETITION REINFORCES…Work with your dog everyday, even if it’s only for a short period of time.  It’s better to have ten minute sessions of training work daily than none at all.  This will help you become a better trainer, too!

BE PATIENT…A dog can’t be trained in a day!  Behavior is changed and molded over time.  Patience, Consistency, and Repetition will give you the behavior you want to achieve.  Don’t yell, don’t get frustrated and above all, don’t give up!

 

Posted by on October 20, 2010 in Throw Me a Bone Blog, Training and Tips

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Adopting a Dog

There are lots of ways that people choose a new family dog.  Some may search the newspaper for advertisements from breeders who are selling new puppies; others find breeders via listings on the Internet, while still more may simply purchase a puppy from a local pet store.  Perhaps the best method, however, in terms of being helpful to society in general is to adopt a dog from a local animal shelter.

Adopting a dog brings a new friend into your life.  It also helps to reduce the number of unwanted and homeless dogs in your area.  Unless the shelter is a “no kill” facility (and these are sadly few and far between), it will also save a dog’s life.  Animal lovers everywhere champion the adoption of dogs from shelters as opposed to any other method of bringing home a new pet for this reason alone, but there are other reasons to choose the adoption option.

Adopted pets have had their shots.  Shelters often have information about a dog’s temperament.  Adopting a pet frees space in the shelter for more dogs.  When you adopt a dog you can be sure that the staff at the shelter has had the dog examined by a vet for diseases and parasites.  This is not always true of dogs acquired by other means such as kids giving away “free puppies” from a box in front of the local grocery store.

The dogs at a shelter are not just strays and often are turned in to the shelter by former owners for various reasons.  When this happens, the shelter collects as much information about the dog as possible, including whether it’s good with children, how much it barks, how playful or obedient it is, whether it’s housebroken, and other important details.  While it’s true that this information is only as good as the honesty of the former owner, most of the time it is fairly accurate.

Animal shelters provide a valuable service to the community that they serve by keeping the streets as free of stray animals as possible.  Because many of them do this with little or no public funding or governmental support, they are very limited in the number of dogs they can have in the shelter at any given time.  The only way that they can bring in more stray animals is if they remove the ones they currently have.  This is done through adoption or euthanasia.  Obviously they would prefer to have the dogs adopted rather than killed.  Adopting a dog could very well save its life and allows the shelter to bring in another dog in its place.  And, unfortunately, there seems to be a never-ending supply of unwanted and neglected animals!

 

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Three Phases of Dog Training

Phase 1: The teaching and control phase –

During phase one, the goal is to achieve control over your dog, teach them the rules, boundaries and desired behaviors you want.  It’s also the time to teach the dog to pay attention and perform these commands around distractions.  This phase lasts between 6-12 weeks on average, however in certain situations it may take longer to gain the reliability needed before moving on to phase two.  Once your dog is capable of performing commands quickly and reliably around a variety of distractions with minimal problem solving required, then your dog and you are ready to move on to phase number two.

Phase 2: The reinforcement phase –

During phase number two, the goal is to begin phasing out your training aid (remote training collar).  In phase number one, we use the dog training collar on a regular basis to regain attention and maintain our rules.  Now, in phase two, we begin to reduce our dependence on the dog training collar and introduce consistency via variable reinforcement.  You may or may not need your dog training collar, but we want to teach the dog that you are still in control even if the perception of the dog is that you are not.  This phase will last between 6-12 weeks on average.  It’s also not uncommon as dogs mature and age to have to revert back into phase one training again for several days depending on how your dog’s performance and behavior is.  When your dog is capable of performing commands without the need for reinforcement for approximately 6 weeks, then your dog is very likely to be reliable without their training aid present.  We are ultimately looking to have your dog learn how to filter out distractions entirely.  When this is achieved, your dog is much less likely to act out in an unwanted manner because of distractions.

Phase 3: The maintenance phase –

The third and final phase of training a dog is the maintenance phase, and is ongoing for the life of the dog.  During this phase, you will likely be using your training collar or other dog training aid very little as your dog is capable of ignoring distraction.  The catch however is that they are still capable of distraction, they are not robots!  A smart trainer recognizes this and is ready to maintain their rules, commands and boundaries at anytime.  It is not uncommon to have a dog who senses the lack of maintenance and begins to revert back in their behavior.  The benefit of having done your dog training properly to begin with is that regression is easily minimized and dealt with by simply jumping back into training for a short time to remind the dog of the expectations.

 

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Remote Collar Training

Remote Collar Training

The modern remote training collar is a fantastic tool for dog training!  In skilled hands, it can open up a whole new world of understanding to the average dog.  We spend time teaching the dog the “language” of the collar, so when the verbal commands are combined with the collar “tap”, it creates an immediate and more lasting impression in the dog’s mind.  Much the same way we would convey a point to our children with a tap on the shoulder to gain their attention.  With the remote collar, we are able to put emphasis on the most important words we are communicating to our dogs.
Remote collar training is, by far, the most humane and effective method in use today.  Combined with the natural food drive, ball or toy drive of the dog creates a winning combination for immediate success.  People are sometimes uncomfortable with the idea of the remote electronic collar.  When they can actually feel the level, in their own hands that I use every day during training, they are immediately put at ease, every time!

“Will my dog have to wear his remote collar forever?”

This mostly depends on you as the dogs’s owner and trainer.  We will teach you and your dog the required skills and training techniques.  A strong commitment from you to practice between each lesson session is required for success.   I typically always have the collar on my dog when I’m out in public because she is usually off leash.  The collar becomes a wireless leash.  My dog has her freedom, but I am able to reach out and touch her at any time and at any distance.  Lets face it…Dogs will be dogs!  Even though we do have off leash reliability around home, we don’t have control over our environment – squirrels, rabbits, cats, other dogs or cars.  We all love our dogs and want to keep them safe and secure.

 

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