No matter how cute and cuddly your dog is, chances are he or she can wreak havoc in your home. He can pee in your hallway, chew your shoes, jump on you whenever he sees you, and even (gasp) eat your kid’s homework. It is therefore imperative that your dog knows how to behave at all times. Not only will it be less problematic for you, it will ensure that your relationship remains positive and loving. So, how do you get your dog to learn what to do and what not to do? Well, you can either teach him yourself or take him to a professional trainer. But before you even take that step, you should first understand what it is you are getting into. Specifically, you will need to understand what methods are used to teach a dog manners.
Now, there are several methods that you might encounter online and in books. There’s the Koehler method, the clicker training, and motivational training, to name a few. These are methods developed based on how dogs learn. There are several ways a dog can learn – operant conditioning, social learning, and classical conditioning are just three. The point of stating all of these things is not to discuss them each in detail but just to inform you how deep and involved training a dog really is. It’s not just a matter of saying “sit” until your dog finally gets it and performs as told. Despite how convoluted it all seems to be right now, dog training can be boiled down to two things: teaching your dog the “do’s” (i.e. sit, stay, fetch) and the “don’ts” (i.e. don’t jump, bite, chew). And each of them has methods that you or a professional trainer can utilize.
Methods for Teaching Your Dog the “Do’s”:
1. Lure/Reward Training
This is one of the simplest and most expedient methods for teaching a dog basic manners such as sitting. Just like its name suggests, the technique uses a lure and a reward to train the dog. The lure (such as food) is used to entice the dog into performing the requested behavior and the reward is used as an award for following the instruction correctly. The method, devised by Dr. Ian Dunbar, has four steps: request, lure, response, and reward.
The first step, request, is the instruction or cue that we want the dog to learn such as “sit” or “stay.” Since dogs don’t understand English (or whatever language you converse in), the lure is used to entice the dog into behaving the way you want him or her to. For example, to teach him to sit, you can place the lure near his nose then slowly lift it up over his head so he will be forced to sit as his nose follows the lure. This response to your cue is then rewarded with a treat (usually food which is initially the lure used when starting this method). You will need to use the lure several times to reinforce the request in your dog’s mind. You will also need to accompany the lure with a hand signal/gesture so that when you phase out the lure, you can simply make use of the hand signal to gain the response you require. The reward, on the other hand, can be turned into something more than just food or a toy. Instead of rewarding him with a piece of doggie treat, you can move onto using life rewards such as taking him out for a walk or letting him play with other dogs.
2 . Compulsion-Praise Training
With this method, a dog is trained to perform a certain action or behavior by physically manipulating him into the position either by the use of hands or training equipment. Once in position, the dog is verbally praised, reward with food, or both. To get a better understanding, here’s an example. Using this method, you can teach your dog how to sit by either putting your hand on his bottom and pressing down so he’ll sit or using a leash and collar to achieve the same position. Once the dog shows the correct behavior, he is then praised and/or given food as a reward.
3. Marker or Clicker Training
This method employs a sound or a word to immediately “mark” the time when the dog performs the required behavior correctly. This mark is then followed by a reward. For example, once the dog sits, the trainer identifies this moment with a marker (i.e. a mechanical sound or the word “yes”) then reinforces the action of sitting with food and/or verbal praise. With this type of training, it becomes easier for the dog to understand what action you want him to perform and the reward becomes his motivation for following.
Methods for Training Your Dog the “Don’ts”:
Behavior modification training is often used to teach dogs not to do something like jumping on you whenever you enter the room or becoming overaggressive when among strangers or other dogs. There are different ways to “fix” a dog’s bad behavior. Two of them are discussed below:
1. Training New Replacement Behaviors
To lessen the occurrence of bad behavior, the trainer teaches the dog a “good” behavior that not only replaces the bad one but also stops the dog from performing it. This means that the good behavior should be incompatible with the bad one. For example, if you want to stop your dog from jumping on anyone who comes into the house, you will need to replace this behavior with something that will prevent him from jumping such as teaching him to sit and stay in one location whenever someone enters the room. Since he can’t do both actions at the same time, this replacement behavior teaches him an acceptable action while at the same time stopping him from performing the bad one.
2. Undesirable Consequences
In order to teach your dog what is right from wrong, you will first need to know what makes him think that the bad behavior is acceptable. For example, what is encouraging your dog to keep jumping at you? It might be that your attention (even negative attention such as yelling) is focused on him whenever he jumps you which then reinforces the bad behavior. Providing him with undesirable consequences (such as turning away and ignoring him or reprimanding him using sharp words or a collar) whenever he jumps can teach him that his behavior needs to change.
All of these methods have had their share of success and it will be up to you to choose which ones are the most compatible with your dog’s needs, his personality, and your personal philosophies and lifestyle.
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About the author:
Doug Ryan is a dog trainer who loves dogs. His training and obedience program is successful because its based on sound research and a thorough understanding of dog Doug Ryan is a dog trainer who loves dogs. He suggests using the Gemini K9 Obedienc...