Anyone Can Train Their Dog

By Art Hess
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Little Things Means a Lot


dogtrainerOur dogs already know how to come, sit, down, etc. so the training process really is communicating to the dog the how, what, where and when stuff.

Since training is twenty percent technique and timing and eighty percent repetition, often a simple adjustment to timing or technique can make our efforts more meaningful to our dog.

I recall a suggestion to get our body down lower and less threatening to young and small dogs having an amazing effect on a Pomeranian that initially came on as shy and intimidated. In less than a minute the dog was more comfortable and less threatened and very quickly responded to quiet cues and rewards.

So let’s explore a few tips.

*Set you and your dog up to succeed. This is the standard, make it easy simple and fun and use a familiar place with zero distractions. Equally important. Remember to check your attitude. If you’re having “a bad hair day” back up and “let the air out of your tires.” Your dog reads your mood and often a happy smile makes it a lot easier for him to understand and accept.

*Many times a small change in the timing of offering the reward helps the dog to more easily understand the what and when of his successes. If we are late “marking” the student’s achievement either vocally or with a clicker, the dog can wind up confused and wondering if he was rewarded for the sit or some associated activity or just being fed a treat.

*Don’t inadvertently punish your dog by calling him to you and then ignoring him when he responds to you. It’s not uncommon to see someone say “Let’s go, Buddy, time to go home” and when the dog responds and comes, the person turns and walks toward the vehicle when the dog is ten feet away. No acknowledgement, nada. And the dog says to himself, “Hey, what am I, chopped liver? You won’t even recognize that I came when called. Well next time I won’t acknowledge you.”

*Remember that every time you allow your dog to do that which you don’t want him to do (pull on the leash, bark at the door, etc.) you are reaffirming in his mind that what he is doing is acceptable to you.

*Check your treat, or reward. It must be highly aromatic.  Smells good like dead fish at the lake. Very tasty, like baked chicken liver.  About as big as the end of your little finger and easy to ingest so it doesn’t disrupt the momentum of your training.

*When you are training your dog and starting to add words to his actions make sure you say the word AFTER the dog starts the movement. If you say Sit before he moves and he does not yet know what that word means he will not Sit because he doesn’t know what you mean. At this point it is just a strange noise because he doesn’t yet have anything to tie the word to. It would be much the same if a person in a strange country looked at us and said “tiao.” If we didn’t respond, the person might then repeat “tiao,” possibly louder because he assumes we are not only stupid but also hard of hearing. When we still don’t do what he wants he might leave in disgust. Oh yeah, if you didn’t respond properly it’s probably because you didn’t recognize “tiao” as being the verb to skip, or jump, in Mandarin.

These are a few simple examples of the importance of technique and timing and how they can help you to get more success from your training.

Loose Leashes and Happy Tails.  





Column: Anyone Can Train Their Dog




Raised and educated in Alberta and pursued a mixed career of business, livestock and real estate. Had a life-long passion for working with dogs and horses. Next came 12 years near Victoria on Vancouver Island where we had several more business’ and then the “Dear, let’s sell everything and move to Mexico phase.”
“Aging is easy. Follow your passion and remember that Attitude is Everything. Strive to live a balanced life in harmony with your environment. Practice compassion, walk a mile in the other person’s moccasins or sandals before passing judgement and remember that trust and respect are earned not mandated.”


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