DOG TRAINING 101
A dog uses body language to communicate. Dogs do not speak the same language as people, i.e. butt sniffing is standard procedure and the acceptable way to say "hello" for dogs.
Dogs learn what works for them quickly, so they pay close attention to people's body language to interpret daily events that might benefit them. The most exciting or beneficial events for a dog are learned first, i.e. dogs learn to recognize certain shoes, or jackets mean walk times or picking up the dog food bowl means dinner is coming.
The reasons these events are learned so quickly is because of the consistency of the actions and the high reward level to our dog.
A dog's behaviour is almost always a direct result of the training (good or bad, intentional or unintentional) that the dog has been exposed to, i.e. dogs pull on leash when pulling works to get them places, to sniff things and to meet other dogs or people. Every step forward a person takes while the dog pulls, rewards the dog for pulling.
Start training a dog in a calm and quiet place. Pick a system to communicate to the dog when they do something right, i.e. a word like "yes," or “good,” a clicker or for hearing impaired dogs use a 'thumbs up' and pair the word/click or thumb's up with a reward (yummy food treat.)
Start looking for behaviours that are important for a dog's basic manners like keeping 4 paws on the floor, making eye contact or sitting. Ignore and prevent behaviours that are not acceptable for family life. Just like taking a picture, timing is very important. Make sure to communicate immediately to the dog when they do something right and reward with something the dog wants or needs.
Training - Easy as 1, 2, 3
Most dogs can be trained to do almost anything by following a few simple training steps.
Step 1. Without using any cues or commands - show the dog a piece of food. With the hand that is holding the food, lure the dog into the desired position. Click or say "yes" and reward the dog. Repeat at least 10 times in at least 3 different places.
Step 2. Without using any cues or commands - use an empty hand to signal the dog into the desired position. Click or say "yes" and reward your dog. Repeat at least 10 times in at least 6 different places.
Step 3. Add a verbal cue/command - this may take a couple of weeks. For example, say "sit" and interpret the word for the dog with the hand signal learned in Step 2. Click or say "yes" and reward the dog. Repeat at least 10 times in at least 10 different places.
Shaping is a training system often used for learning or teaching new mental and physical skills that are complicated or challenging. Long-term (or big) goals can be broken down into a series of small, progressive steps. Starting with a simple task and setting a dog up for success allows the dog to really master the end goal, i.e. marathoners shape their running success, starting with slow and shorter distances, gradually increasing the speed and distance. This allows the person to remain injury-free and motivated by getting enjoyment and satisfaction from practicing the skill and experiencing success.
He can do it at home...
Most dogs will learn first and respond best in the comfort of their own home. It is very important for dogs to practice each training step starting at Step 1 in as many different places as possible, i.e. on your walks, driving in the car and when new distractions appear in places you have already trained, i.e. when company comes.
Advice from Dogs
-DO keep training sessions quick and fun!
-BE consistent. This sounds easy, but can be quite challenging.
-BE patient. Habits can't be changed in one day, especially when a habit has been practiced for a long time.
-DO start slow in small steps. The more a dog succeeds the faster it learns.
-AVOID repeating cues and commands as it can confuse the dog. Say something once and then interpret for the dog with a hand signal.
-AVOID doing anything that hurts or frightens a dog. A scared or defensive dog is more likely to become aggressive and bite.