Archive for the ‘positive reinforcement’ Tag

Trish Tip: Sit Happens (without a bribe!)   Leave a comment

This is a great tip from Trish’s Training, useful for weaning pups off visible food.  I wish I could figure out how to make the whole article appear on my blog, but clearly I am still learning.  Just click and voila it’ll appear…

Trish Tip: Sit Happens (without a bribe!).

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Walking with the Woofs – Your Story   Leave a comment

So what can I advise from my own experience to help you achieve a happy walk?

  • It’s about your close relationship with your dog as well as obedience.  You’re a team or family, walking together, having fun.  Chat to your dogs a little, let them know you’re happy to be there with them, don’t let them go more than a few meters away from you, teach them that staying near to you is where the good stuff happens. 
  • Teach ‘watch me’ or ‘look’ so when you speak your dog actually tunes in.
  • Teaching ‘recall’ is vital – never, ever let your dog off lead if you’re not sure he’ll come back to you.  Practise recall on lead, using the normal lead or a long line, with many repetitions in all possible situations.  Once you have some confidence in your pup, let him trail a long (5 –10m) lead that you can quickly reach to ensure his obedience.
  • Walk with a toy on a rope that you and your pup play with at home.  When you call him, wiggle the toy excitedly and play ‘tug of peace’ when he comes in – you need to be more exciting than the other dogs – well, at least try!!
  • In the early days, arm yourself with treats in a treat bag and clicker as well as the toy.
  • Keeping moving quite quickly, humans are sooo boring when they walk slowly. Vary the route and direction, keep them guessing a little.
  • When you’re near other dogs, call your pup in closer to you and try to distract him from rushing up to them.  Young dogs often get into trouble in their enthusiasm which is unappreciated by older dogs.  It takes can take ages for a happy youngster to learn this (or at least it took ages for Minka!) but keep working at it until you just have to use a warning tone for your dog to respond.
  • Keep your dog away from dogs on lead – sometimes it’s because the other dog is aggressive and it’s not fair for your pooch to wind them up, besides being dangerous.
  • Pick up after your dog – ‘Bags on Board’ is a roll of doggie doo bags to keep in your pocket or clipped to the lead. 
  • I seldom actually ‘recall’ my dogs, they just never move that far away that I need to.  I think this comes about because I’ve done lots of heel work with them so being close to mom is in itself rewarding now.  Teaching with positive reinforcement methods means your dog will be ever hopeful of goodies or a game. 
  • Practise in your garden: move away from your pup, call him to your side and when he arrives, click and treat.  Move away again, click and treat.  You can lure him in close if necessary but only reward him when he’s in close to you.  This teaches him to come to heel and to watch what you’re doing because you’re unpredictable. 
  • Begin when your pup is just 9-10 weeks old by going to a reputable puppy school (with just 4 – 6 pups per trainer) where the emphasis is on dog-human relationship building and successful, controlled interaction between dogs.  It is NOT about wild play with other pups, it’s about him learning sensible, polite doggie language so he can behave appropriately when meeting all kinds of dogs.  They learn a lot in play, but also on lead in class.

So, once your pup has had all his vaccinations, get out there and begin a lifetime of pleasure and exercise!  The more you do it the easier it will get. 

Training Tip: Will I have to use treats forever?   Leave a comment

Training Tip – from ThinkingPets Sept Newsletter. See whole newsletter @ ThinkingPets.com.

We get a lot of questions from concerned owners about food rewards and where it ends. “Will I always have to carry around a treat to get my dog to do what he’s told?” No you won’t. Food rewards help you initially teach your dog the behaviour that you want, such as ‘sit’ or ‘down’. After your dog knows the command off by heart, you can start to fade out the food rewards.

  • The key is to do it gradually. Start by asking your dog for a behaviour such as sit without any food in your hand. When he complies, reward him with multiple treats.
  • Once your dog can do that reliably, start asking for two behaviours before giving a reward. So ask the dog to sit and then down, for example, before giving the treat. Later you can ask for three or four behaviours in a row.
  • In the beginning, reward your dog 9 out of every times with a treat. The rest of the time you can simply use a click or say ‘good boy’. Once that is going well, start rewarding every 8 times out of 10 and so on.
  • Do make sure that you don’t accidentally always reward the ‘sit’ and not the ‘down’ with food, for example, when varying rewards.
  • Random reinforcement works very well; for the dog it’s like gambling. He will do his best every time, just in case this is the time he’ll get that cookie!
  • Never totally stop rewarding your dog. But you can work with your dog so that sometimes when you are without a treat, a good cuddle or ‘good dog’ will do just as well.
And now from me:
When you use reward based training, you have to find a reward that your dogs really wants/likes, not just one that you think he “should” like.  So do a bit of research trying out foods – for some dogs bits of apple can be as rewarding as biltong.  Ideally the food should keep well when out of the fridge if you’re not using it immediately.  There should also be a heirachy of treats – the less interesting ones for easy stuff, esp perhaps at home where there are few distractions, and exciting yummies for the park/training class.
I use a mixture of treats for my classes: Eukanuba puppy biscuits break easily and are well liked by the pups, plus thin slices of viennas dried in the oven, chopped up droe wors, cat pellets, dry liver biscuits.  All these keep well in an airtight container between sessions.
Just had a wonderful weekend at Langebaan where we had fun walking our friend’s dog on the beach – her friendly play invitations to the other dogs around weren’t always well received but she found a few pals to charge around with, such a pleasure to watch!  It’s what I encourage my clients to aim for – a well socialised animal, but obedient to it’s humans so it can go out and about and be a pleasure to have around.