Tuesday, March 26, 2019

Polite Greetings

Monday, March 25, 2019

5 Weeks and using the dog door!

Pro Training Tip--Adding another Dog

When considering adding another dog to your pack, make careful observation of the pack you have.  Are the dogs in control?  How do they get along with dog's they don't know?  How "bidable" are they?  How old are they?    The dog/dogs you already have in your home will set the tone for the new one.  If your pack (that includes humans) are a team that get along well, where there is cooperation and little discord, is probably ready to accept another member. 

Do not get a new puppy when you have a teenage or younger dog.  These younger dogs have not yet developed a brain to be an empathic partner and will likely use the puppy as a recirculated toy rather than a companion.  An older dog is slowing down, less able to adapt to change and likely has the aches and pains of aging.  Adding a dog under the age of two is more likely to be a nuisance rather than a friend to him.  

Tuesday, March 19, 2019

Stopping a biting puppy--Chapter 4

Teach your puppy what isn’t acceptable by being sure there is no reinforcement for undesired behavior and desired behavior is being rewarded.  For example, if the puppy is biting you, calmly stop playing with him.  When he is no longer trying to bite, wait five seconds and continue petting or playing.  If he doesn’t stop trying to bite or continues when you resume play, stop.  Don’t say anything more or look at the puppy.  Ignoring your puppy, which is positive punishment, is the most desirable way to extinguish or stop your puppy’s unwanted behavior.   If your puppy is doing lots of biting/nipping, try feeding him a bit more food at each meal or adding a meal.  Sometimes, he is just hungry!  Sometimes, he is teething!  Sometimes, he is overtired!  You need to try to determine what is going on and correct the situation or train for an acceptable behavior to replace the biting.  A chew toy is a better object than your hand or ankles!

Sunday, March 17, 2019

Determining correct size of a crate

If you can’t directly supervise the puppy (especially during the first few months), put the puppy in a safe place—whether that is a puppy-proof room or a large crate. To determine the right size crate consider both the size of the dog and the amount of time he will be in the crate. If your puppy will be in the crate for less than two hours at a time or overnight to sleep, choose a crate that is big enough for the puppy to easily stand upright with head erect and to stretch out when lying down.

If your puppy will be in the crate for longer periods, the crate needs to be at least two sizes larger than a sleeping crate.  He will need space to walk and move around. The puppies pictured here are in an exercise or X-pen and have lots of room to stretch.  Currently, there is pressure to not use crates at all with any animal.  Unfortunately, most new dog owners may have only a few vacation days to help their dog adjust.  Keeping the puppy home alone often means restricting his access in the house to keep him safe.
Photo by David Fisher on Flickr

Friday, March 15, 2019

Pro Training Tip--Chapter 2

Some dogs do not respond to food training for a variety of reasons. Sometimes dogs are over-stimulated with food rewards and can’t concentrate on anything but the food.  In this case, discontinue the lure after just a few times and go to a reward rather than a lure.  Sometimes the dog has food available at all times or just isn’t motivated by food.  In this case, you might want to try feeding once or twice a day, picking up the bowl after 10 or 15 minutes. Sometimes, the food being offered as the reinforcement just isn’t that enticing to the dog.  If your dog doesn’t respond to the treats you are using, try a “higher value” treat, such as sliced and microwaved hot dogs, string cheese, cooked/cubed chicken or dehydrated liver.  If that doesn’t work, you may have to find, by trial and error, what is motivating for your dog.  Sometimes it’s a ball, a stuffed animal or a squeaky toy.   

Thursday, March 14, 2019

Tips on Treats

 Have the food treat in an easily accessible location so that it can be delivered to the dog within three seconds and while the desired behavior is still occurring.  I use a cotton waist apron, available from most hardware stores and online for under ten dollars. A treat pouch or bag is better than a pocket, but it can take some time to get used to accessing the treat quickly. After some training for both you and the dog, you can transition to a pocket in your clothes, but for most of us, getting into the pocket for the treat and then delivering it to the dog in three seconds is still a challenge.  Remember, timing is everything!  

Photo by Andrea Arden, Flickr

Wednesday, March 13, 2019

Timing is Everything!--Pro Training Tip--Chapter 2

The reward marker will occasionally need to be used with a food reward to prevent the behavioral response from extinguishing.  Research has shown that rewarding every time a behavior occurs actually creates a reduction in the behavioral response, once it has been learned.  Reward the behavioral response, on average, every seven times the dog responds with the behavior, but vary it.  Sometimes you give the reward the third time he responds with the behavior, sometimes the ninth time, sometimes the second time and so on, averaging out to about every seven times.  You don’t have to worry about counting, keeping track or be super precise with the 1:7 ratio.  Using a variable schedule, averaging approximately once every seven times, is by far the best system. 

Follow this pattern for most training:

  1. Use a lure to get the behavioral response to occur.  Add the stimulus word cue as the behavioral response happens and then give the lure/treat to the dog.
  2. Use the stimulus word cue to get the behavioral response to occur and give a reward after the behavioral response happens.
  3. Use the stimulus word cue to get the behavioral response to occur, say a reward marker word and then give the reward while the response is happening.
  4. Use the word cue to get the behavioral response to occur, say the reward marker word the treat reward.  Use a variable schedule, rewarding with a treat—averaging 1:7 times.

Tuesday, March 12, 2019

Definition of terms used in Food Reinforced Training or Positive Reinforcement

  • Lure:  A lure is used to entice the dog into responding with a behavioral response.  The lure is intrinsically perceived by the dog as desirable without any training at all.  Most of the time, the lure used is food.  The lure is used as an enticement to get the behavioral response to occur and is shown to the dog before the dog does the desired behavior.
  • Reward:  A reward is used to reinforce the behavioral response after it occurs.  Most of the time, the reward is food.  The food is not shown to the dog until after the behavioral response occurs and is given to the dog immediately—within three seconds of the response and while it is still happening.  
  • Reward Marker:  A word, such as “good” or “yes” is associated with a food reward.  For example:  You say, “Sit” and the dog sits, you say, “Yes” and immediately give the dog the food reward. Over time, the reward marker, the word “yes,” can be used without the food, as it becomes rewarding on its own.  This is an example of classical conditioning.  

Monday, March 4, 2019

Recognizing differences!

I have found that what works with one owner and dog may not work so well with another owner or another dog.  People are different and have a range of different ideas and experiences about how to interact with the world in general and with pets in particular.  Dogs come in all shapes and sizes, with different talents, experiences and capabilities.  Within the same breed, even the same litter, dogs can be very different from each other.  I suggest you try different approaches and options, choosing to continue with what works within your belief system and the unique situation that you have with your dog.

Sunday, March 3, 2019

Pro Training Tip--Page 4 Multi-tasking

The big difference between human and dog ability is that dogs tend to be poor at multi-tasking.    The dog’s senses are dominant in this order:  nose, eyes, ears, touch and taste. When he catches a scent with his nose or focuses on something with his eyes, all other senses shut down and the dog seems unable to hear your cue or be tempted by a tasty treat.  When your dog catches that scent, or sees something interesting, your response to try to change his behavior is usually a word cue or treat.  Notice that his ears are third out of the five senses and his taste is fifth! No wonder he doesn’t respond to our words or treats.    

So, when your dog is behaving as a result of his nose or eyes, just wait patiently until he is no longer interested in smelling or watching and then use your word cue or offer a tasty treat.  If you are on a walk, you can change direction by using your body language rather than words and facing in the direction you want to go.  (More in Chapter 15:  Loose Leash Walking.)