Daycare & Train Goals
Thank you for participating in the daycare and train program at the Dog Ranch. This program is geared towards dog owners who are serious about training and are willing to follow through. Time, consistency, patience, and effort will breed the results you want to see. Those who are not consistent and do not follow through with the skills and behaviors worked on, may not see results as fast or changes at all.
Simple Rules to Follow:
Do not make excuses of why things are not working. Make changes. Dog training takes patience and consistency. It is about problem solving and being fair to the dog. Ask questions. You WILL face challenges and struggles, have good days and bad. Example: if you are working on jumping, but you continuously are not managing the behavior or continuing to allow your dog to jump — do not get irritated with him/her when they continue to jump. Do not tell me your dog won’t stop jumping when you have not taken the appropriate steps to manage it to see a change.
Be the change you want to see. A lot of times nuisance behaviors start with us. We created them. We reinforced them. Dogs do what works for them and it is up to us to change how we operate to get a different behavior out of our dog. Example: every time your door swings open your dog bolts out. Bolting out = getting outside fast and that is REINFORCING AND REWARDING. If you want this behavior to stop, you need to take the time to stop letting it happen. You will have to take a few extra minutes to keep closing the door on your dog until you get the behavior you want. Do not let the dog drive the bus.
Do not use harsh corrections or fear or pain based training methods. We are not achieving results through making our dogs do things out of fear of punishment or uncertainty. We want them to make the right choices based upon being reinforced for those choices. Example: there is no need to leash correct your dog when it is pulling (hint, hint, it does NOT know how to walk properly). Instead, we are reinforcing for when the dog checks in or stays close, so it CHOOSES to do this.
Have fun! If you’re getting frustrated or irritated with yourself or your dog, it is time to take a break. Change does not happen overnight. If you have ever tried to break a habit, I am sure you know how challenging it can be. Give your dog a chance.
Where Will We Start?
Before you begin training, it is important to understand the foundation to your training should be engagement and relationship. Teaching behaviors and cues is a lot easier when a dog is willing and enthusiastic to participate with you. Your training should be force-free with a strong focus on foundational skills.
Keep your expectations fair and realistic.
Unpredictability is probably the worst trait a dog owner can possess.
If you expect something, then expect it every time you ask for it.
Think about treats in terms of ‘units of a reward’ for effort.
Remember repetition, NOT duration. Five 1-minutes sessions can be better than one 5-minute session.
Mark for action, feed for position.
Name a perfect behavior, not an imperfect behavior. Get the quality you want before you tell the dog what it is called.
Work on generalization to work on getting the behavior to happen in a variety of environments and situations.
The challenge level should always be that in which your dog can succeed.
Ask your dog what they are capable of doing. Over-facing our dogs by putting demands on them that they cannot possibly meet will not only mean we make no progress towards our training goals, but it will erode a dog’s confidence and enjoyment of working with us.
Perfection is not a permanent condition. The more criteria, the more maintenance.
It is important to think about the behavior you are training and the tools you may need. Are you "marking" for the behavior and feeding for position? Are you working a release and can utilize tugging when your dog gets up?
What motivates your dog?
Food (what is the least your puppy or dog will work for?)
In what order are your rewards most valuable?
What does the dog like least?
What does the dog like most?
What types of behaviors require certain rewards? Ex. placement of rewards and marking for position, calm behaviors vs. high drive
What environment are you training in which may require a more valuable reward or motivator?
How to mark behaviors you want:
In the initial stages you may need to have a collar/harness with a 4-6ft leash attached to your puppy or dog so they do not wander. You can hold the leash or just step on it.
Once you have a strong foundation with the behaviors in a low-key environment you can start building upon the behavior by asking for a longer duration of focus, moving food off your body, reducing the reinforcer, requiring eye contact (not staring at the reward), putting distance between you and the dog, and eventually moving into environments with increased distractions (controlled and not controlled).
In order to communicate with your dog when they are doing something you like or are asking for you will want to have a "marker word" or clicker. If you do not have a clicker you can use the word "yes."
Initially you are just "charging the click" to allow your puppy or dog to start associating your marker with the reward which is to follow. As your dog progresses you can always mark the behavior, but you can reduce your reinforcers (you do not have to give a treat every time).
Skill: Marker Word = YES! (or a clicker)
Exercise: Name Game
Criteria: Call your dog’s name, when they look mark YES and reward
Progression: Offered focus (call if needed) but reward for paying attention. If your dog looks away to sniff, you can call their name and reward for looking at you. Young puppies may only glance up for a hot second...don't forget to reward that!
*Remember you do not ALWAYS need to use food - think about other types of rewards
RULES OF ENGAGEMENT:
START WITH FOCUS
WORK ENGAGEMENT SEPARATELY FROM ANYTHING ELSE (AT FIRST)
BE FULLY ENGAGED WITH YOUR DOG
CHOOSE THE RIGHT ENVIRONMENT FOR YOUR DOG
GIVE YOUR DOG A CHANCE TO LOOK AROUND AND ACCLIMATE
MATCH YOUR DOG'S ENERGY
DON'T CORRECT FOR LACK OF ENGAGEMENT
WHEN FAILURE HAPPENS, DON'T PROMPT THE DOG TO RE-ENGAGE
MOVE WHEN THE DOG IS ENGAGED, STOP WHEN HE IS NOT
DON'T ALWAYS HAVE REINFORCERS VISIBLE
KEEP SESSIONS SHORT
KEEP IT PERSONAL
How does your dog know when it is "ok" to move out of a cue or behavior?
Dog is in crate (chooses to, or lured in at first)
Door closes on dog
The reward or motivator is coming out of the crate
If the dog tries to bolt or barge out, the dog loses access to that reward and the door simply closes quickly
Very quickly a dog will start catching on to the behaviors that are linked together; dog holds position (even for a second) and is released out!
There are many scenarios where a release cue is important. For example: a start-line stay on the agility field.
Wanting to work one dog, while the other stays until it is released.
While the Dalmatian is released and worked, the other dog is to stay put until she gets released and it is her turn.
It's amazing how much can be learned by both human and dog hardly saying anything at all. I can go through an entire training session with my dogs, or my horse, or donkeys without saying many words but rather just praising and reinforcing what I like.
I want my animals to think for themselves and do things with enthusiasm because they want to, not because they are forced to.
One reason I am a huge advocate of crate training (beyond potty training, confidence building, or ruling out anxiety) is because it is the foundation of my release cue.
Time out of the crate or time spent interacting with us is rewarding. Anything that a dog wants can be used as a motivator. A dog will do what works for them to achieve that motivator and it is up to us to set boundaries and be consistent with our messages. Many times we are reinforcing things we do not like and we do not even know it!
"Ok" simply means you are free to move.
Very quick durations to start. No distractions that may cause the dog to get up early. You are with the dog so there is not much distance in between you.
If our dog shows a sense of self control, generally we will then allow them a reward or access to their motivator. .
a dog sits and waits at the door, the door opens (gains access to the outdoors!)
a dog keeps all four paws on the floor, we reach down to pet it (gains access to praise!)
a dog holds position when the food bowl is placed on the floor, we release and it eats (gains access to food!)
There was a time when my clumsy self knocked an entire bottle of ibuprofen off my counter and every single pill fell onto the floor. Imagine how dangerous that scenario could be for the dog that has no impulse control and as soon as something falls...well, eats it.
Had it not been for this specific drill, perhaps that day would have went differently. My dogs understand they need to exhibit self control. When they want to access something they need to engage with me and make eye contact for a release that it is "ok" to move.
Carrying a plate of food? Kids carrying a stuffed animal or dragging a blanket? A puppy or dog needs to understand that in order to get what they want they should show some patience. Now, of course, we do want to eliminate temptation when a dog is learning as we want them to succeed as many times as possible.
However, as we teach these behaviors consistently we no longer have to view the behavior as a "problem" or challenge.
Sits & Downs
If you want your dog to sit politely while company enters the door or a stranger greets you in the streets...first you need a strong sit!
Build strong foundational behaviors. Does your dog understand sit only when you lure a cookie in front of its face? Or can you spin around in circles with your back facing and cue your dog to "sit?"
A lot of times the behavior is: owner standing straight in front of me lifting up their hand and that posture and signal means to sit. Perhaps your dog does not understand the word itself.
If you want to send your dog to its bed and down, first you need a reliable down.
Do your motions trigger your dog to get up and move? Can you walk a fill circle around your dog while they remain in a down? Will your dog hold a down while you throw a steak on the floor?
A large part of the foundational skills of behaviors such as sit and down are proofing those behaviors.
Proofing: the final step in training your dog any new behavior. It involves practicing behaviors in a variety of situations with different levels of distractions