Monday, February 25, 2019

Behavior Principle #3: Two behaviors can't occur at the same time.

There are two ways to address what we consider to be inappropriate behavior. We can make our cue/stimuli and ourselves more important than anything else to the dog.  When we have his attention, we can redirect his behavior.  The other way is to use positive punishment whenever inappropriate behavior occurs by not giving the dog what he wants as long as the undesired behavior continues.  Then we can redirect the behavior to be more desirable in our eyes.  This second way has the advantage of causing the unwanted behavior to diminish or extinguish over time.  

Again, we need to understand what is negative from the dog’s point of view.  Dogs love attention.  Positive attention is the most reinforcing.  However—and this seems counterintuitive for many owners—negative attention, which we think is clearly not desirable, is still reinforcing to the dog as well.  For example, if we yell when the dog barks or jumps, we can be inadvertently reinforcing the behavior.  From the dog’s point of view, the worst punishment we can give is positive punishment, ignoring and turning away from him—no touch, no talk, no eye contact.

Saturday, February 23, 2019

Behavior Principle #2: Behaviors that get rewarded/reinforced get repeated.

Principle #2 is the basis for operant conditioning.  We apply it every time we train or handle our dogs.  Simply put:
    1. We give a cue to our dog (the Stimulus)
    2. The dog does something we want him to do (the Response)
    3. We reward the wanted behavior (the Reinforcement)
This can be tricky for two reasons.  First, what we define as a reward or reinforcement may not be what that particular dog experiences as a reward or reinforcement.  Second, timing is essential.  Rewards/reinforcements must be delivered while the behavior is occurring, and within three seconds.  (Read more about using reward/reinforcement to shape your dog’s behaviors in Chapter 2: Training with Lures, Reinforcers and Positive Punishment and in Chapter 16: Stopping Unwanted Behaviors.)

Friday, February 22, 2019

Pro Training Tips-Page 3--What is Salience?

To understand salience, we must understand what is important to the dog.  In a dog’s world, the nose is more important than the eyes.  The eyes are more important than the ears.  The ears are usually more important than touch and touch is more important than taste.  When there are multiple stimuli, the dog may not respond to the owner’s command word with the desired response, but respond to some other more salient stimulus with his own action.  To the dog, this is not bad.  To us, it may be something we do not want him to do.  An example is when your dog is trying to chase a squirrel and doesn’t respond to your request to walk calmly beside you.  It is not his fault; he is just being a dog.  

Thursday, February 21, 2019

Behavior Principle #1: There is no such thing as bad behavior to a dog.

In the dog’s world, there is no “good” or “bad.”  The dog simply responds to something he senses.  His response to our stimuli is usually consistent and appropriate.   So why does he sometimes not do what we want and instead does something else?  Many times, he is responding to a stimulus that does not come from us, but has become more important or more salient than ours.  We must be sure that our stimulus is the most important one.  (Photo by Allan Ellis, Flickr)

Tuesday, February 19, 2019

Darlene's Experience and Training

The ideas in my book are the result of being with dogs over many years in a variety of settings.  I was a 4-time puppy raiser for Leader Dogs for the Blind, trained my own dogs as pets and for AKC Conformation, Obedience and Rally competitions, taught classes for puppy and adult dogs since 2008 and have a Bachelor’s as well as a Master’s Degree grounded in psychology.  I am a member of the Association of Professional Dog Trainers.  My formal training and greatest insight into the world of dogs was the result of a 28-day training intensive taught by Turid Rugaas in seven 4-day sessions during 2015. 

Monday, February 18, 2019

Tips and Reminders for Loose Leash Walking

  • Have treats ready and work in a quiet environment.
  • Don’t let the dog succeed going in the direction in which he pulls.  When the tension on the leash eases, make your sound and change direction. NEVER allow pulling by you or by your dog!
  • Use a reinforcing word such as “good” or “yes” to replace the treat once the technique is learned or at least used regularly.
  • Walk slowly, allowing sniffing and exploring, 
  • Reward the behavior while it is still happening
  • Don’t work beyond your dog’s attention span.

Sunday, February 17, 2019

Turid Tugaas Loose Leash Walking Method-Chapter 10

My formal training and greatest insight into the world of dogs was the result of a 28-day training intensive taught by Turid Rugaas in seven 4-day sessions during 2015. What follows is her Loose Leash Walking Method.

With your dog on your left side, attach a six foot leash, hold it in your right hand.  Choose a stimulus that you want to associate with this type of controlled walking.  Some people use a sound, like a smacking or kissing sound.  Others prefer a word like “close” or “here.” You can use your attention word or sound you chose when training your dog to pay attention.
  1. Say your word or sound. As soon as you get your dog’s attention, reward him with a treat. Do this several times.  Remember to have the treat hidden until after your dog gives you his attention and then give the treat as a reward.
  2. Say your word or sound. When your dog gives you attention, take a step or two with your dog at your side, then give him the treat reward. Repeat several times.  
  3. Say your word or sound. Take several steps in one direction, turn and take a few more steps in another direction, and give the treat reward. Move with more or fewer steps, depending on your dog being at your side at the time and always in place to receive the treat. 
  4. Make it more difficult by changing directions more, walking farther, treating only some of the times. Use your body to show the dog where you want to go. Turn your shoulders and body in the direction you want to go. After some time, treats or words are not necessary. The dog wants to be with you. Don’t allow pulling, be patient. If you see or anticipate a bad situation, make the sound and turn to get the dog away from it. 

Saturday, February 16, 2019

Darlene's hopes for the book and blog

My hope is that Build Trust and Confidence with Your Dog: A How To Primer will help both owner and dog have a better relationship with each other, based on mutual trust and understanding.  It has been written with the best of intentions.  Just as books about exercise and diet often start with the suggestion to seek the input from a doctor before beginning, it is a great idea to have your dog checked out by your vet, especially if your dog seems unpredictable, aggressive or slow to learn.

Friday, February 15, 2019

Darlene in Silver City. NM

In 2016 Darlene moved to Silver City, NM with her two Lagotto Romagnolo: Ragazza Dolce Isabella (Izze) and Faustino Vittorio del Tiglio (Vito). She continues to share her love for dogs by teaching and coaching owner/dog teams as well as volunteering at the High Desert Humane Society, where her focus on the “unadoptable” strays in an effort to get them ready for a forever home. Her latest hobby is an aquaponics greenhouse where she tries to grow fresh produce year-round.

Thursday, February 14, 2019

Pro Training Tips-Page 1

Always keep in mind that the goal of all training is encourage and invite the dog to do what we want him to do,  allow the dog to choose to respond, and then reward him when he does what we want.  We encourage, invite and reward the behavior.  Thankfully, the days of dominance and forcing the dog into submission are no longer part of the process!

Wednesday, February 13, 2019

I would love to get feedback from you.

I am excited to be able to offer Build Trust and Confidence With Your Dog:  A How To Primer to everyone through Amazon.  It is available in Kindle and paperback versions.   All comments, suggestions, corrections will be read and replied to!