Positive Training using food

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Positive Training using food treats.
Dogs are not obedient to commands: they are obedient to the laws of learning.” Jean Donaldson
Anything that will increase the likelihood that an act will occur again is called a reinforcer. A positive reinforcer, in dog training, is something that the dog wants, such as food, a toy, petting or praise. Simply offering food treats as positive reinforcement to strengthen any behaviour is the most rudimentary part of dog training. And for a puppy, what can be better than a nice treat? Fortunately we do not have to teach a dog to eat. Behaviour that is already occurring, no matter how seldom, can always be intensified with positive reinforcement training. Read the rest of this entry »

Basic Obedience Training

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Basic Obedience Training
All dog training is based on motivation either positive or negative. This may take the form of food reward or withholding food, added pressure or pressure relief etc.
The dog must be an active participant in training and must understand the consequence of what he is doing. Show him what you WANT him to do and let him KNOW instantly, exactly what he has done right by marking and rewarding that behaviour. You cannot tell your dog to “Stand” when he has no idea what you are talking about.
Obedience Training teaches a dog to DO something like sit, stay, lie down, stand, fetch, watch/look, come when called and many other tricks.
Behaviour Training teaches him NOT to do things like jumping up, chewing, digging, barking, ignoring a call to come, chasing the cat or cars etc.
Both Obedience and Behavioural training form part of successful dog training intervention. Read the rest of this entry »

Home Training Sessions

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Home Training Sessions
Dog owners are encouraged to have some practice sessions with their dogs at home during the week. This can be confusing if you’re not exactly sure how to conduct a dog training session at home. Understanding what makes a proper training session is an essential part of training your dog. Training sessions will differ from person to person and from dog to dog depending on the individual needs.
The following tips should help you with your dog training sessions.
What is a Training Session?
A training session is a short period of time you set aside each day or two to work on specific dog training commands, cues, actions, or behaviours. Dog training sessions don’t have to be the only time to train. Use the opportunities that happen every day to reinforce your dog’s training.
When to Use Training Sessions
You can use training sessions throughout your dog’s life, but they should definitely be used when you are starting obedience training. You can use dog training sessions to introduce and reinforce basic commands and other behaviours.
Keep Dog Training Sessions Short
Dog training sessions should last no more than 15 minutes. Young puppies or dogs who are easily distracted may need even shorter sessions. If you run your dog training session too long, dogs get distracted and bored, and there’s a good chance they’ll start making mistakes. If my dog does what I planned to do perfectly, my sessions often end after 3 minutes and we start playing.
Stick to One Thing
Before going out to train, spend some time deciding on exactly what it is that you want to improve. It may be something that was pointed out at the club meeting. It can be one aspect or more than one. When you set aside time for a training section, plan on working on just one command. The quick, intense lessons will help your dog learn, and sticking with just one command or behaviour will help the dog stay focused. You can train more than one command in a day but try to stick to just one command for each session. An exception might be if the session is not going well and you want to get your dog to do something he knows to end things on a positive note.
In this case, it makes sense to switch to a simple action your dog already knows.
Start with Little Distraction
When you begin training a new command, dog training sessions should take place in quiet areas with little distraction. Too much activity or noise when you are introducing a command can make it harder to train a dog.
Start somewhere quiet like your living room and work your way up to dog training sessions at the dog park. As your dog gets better, you can start adding in more major distractions, like other people or dogs.
End on a Positive Note
All dog training sessions should end on a positive note. This is one reason you don’t want to keep them going for too long. A good stopping place is when a dog is rewarded for doing a behaviour you like. By keeping training sessions short and rewarding, your dog will have fun and learn to love training. Again, if your dog can’t seem to perform the desired behaviour, switch to something easier for the last bit of the session. This will help you end the session with something positive. After the training session, ask yourself, “How did it go?” and, “What could be better?” or “What must I ask the instructor at the club?”

First time a mistake is made by the dog = an accident.
Second time the same mistake is made = your fault.
Third time the same mistake is made = habit.

Leash control

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Many countries and cities have passed legislation that requires dogs to be on leash every time they venture outside their properties and into public areas. Although laws may differ in cities and states, the main purpose of a leash includes, amongst others, preventing dogs from frightening or biting people or other animals. Also to prevent them from getting lost and endangering traffic – defecating and urinating in inappropriate places etc.


Read the rest of this entry »


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The Tab Leash

A tab leash is a shorter leash and is usually from 6 to 24 inches long depending on the size of the dog. It is mainly used as a transitional leash before changing to off-leash obedience training. Tab leashes are on sale at some dog shops or you can make your own or shorten an old leash not being used any more.
During a period of remedial training of a dog with serious aggressive behavioural problems it is absolutely essential that the dog must be on leash every time you interact with or obedience train your dog. You must be able to show the dog in addition to telling him what you want him to do.
When the dog has responded well to the remedial training and is ready to start off-leash training, the tab leash can be used during this time. It is light, does not drag on the floor and is easy to grab to correct and guide the dog in the right direction. When a dog is slow on getting up from a down, a sharp upward tug on the tab leash may be necessary.

Leading a Pack

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Leading a Pack
Although dogs have been living with humans for thousands of years and in spite of their modern appearance, they still have retained many of the mannerisms of their ancient ancestors. They all display and are capable of reading the same body postures and signals. Their instincts for survival and reproduction are as strong as ever. The strongest, healthiest and cleverest still dominates their pack. They still turn around a few times before lying down even if there are no critters in the grass to chase away. Every member knows its place or pecking order and the alarm giver still barks his warnings. Or so it should be. Read the rest of this entry »

Separating dogs in a fight 2

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Separating dogs in a fight
There is no such thing as a nice dog fight. They are all horrible even if little damage was done. Worse is that someone may get bitten trying to stop the fight. Shouting, screaming, kicking, water spraying etc. usually has little positive effect, in fact it can make matters worse. Owners are often bitten by their own dog because grabbing the dog’s neck is to him an attack and he does not look to see who it is. Read the rest of this entry »

Speed training

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Speed Work
In dog training there is a saying, “The fast dog loses marks slowly but the slow dog loses them quickly.” When two dogs do an exercise such as a “Recall” or “Retrieve” equally well, in my experience, the judge is likely to favour the one that executes the exercise the quickest. Quick sits or downs create a very favourable impression and speed should always be encouraged in obedience training. When a dog runs with speed he will not notice or interfere with other dogs on the way.
However, dogs like people can be very different from each other in that some can naturally do things very fast but others cannot do it as quickly. They can sit correctly but not very fast. We can encourage the dog by reserving our rewards/treats for quick sits. But does the dog understand that the treat was given because he was now sitting slightly faster than the previous time? The dog may not know the difference. Read the rest of this entry »

Training tips

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Meeting a Dog
When you are introduced to a new dog or come across a dog that you do not know, make a habit of calling the dog to you rather than you going to the dog. The dog must show his willingness and friendliness by deciding to come to you or not. Over 95% of dog bites occur when people approach dogs.
Territorial behaviour
Often, when visiting homes, I find dogs fiercely barking at me at the gate. After ringing the bell I move as close to the gate as is safe and completely ignore the barking dogs by turning sideways to them and standing still. I do not look at them or try to speak to them while waiting for the owners to come. When the owners arrive the dogs have had a good sniff of me and are already turning away to allow me into their territory. The owners often respond with, “How on earth do you do that?” because their dogs do not usually allow people in without first being restrained by their owners.
The dogs must come to you. No confrontation must take place. No eye contact is made. They must see that you are not a threat. The dogs must lower their heads and/or move back to signal that it is safe for you to enter before moving forward.
Respect older dogs
Respect dogs especially older ones. No two dogs are the same. Four German shepherds or Labs may be in the same class but they will all be different in behaviour. It is the personality or temperament of a dog that drives their behaviour. Older dogs are more fixed in the way they react to people so they must be treated with more respect.
Avoid “encouraging” aggression
Many owners regularly walk their dog past homes where dogs run up and down their boundary barking loudly at passers-by. The dog out on a walk will retaliate by barking back at them and strain to get closer to the dogs behind the fence. The owner usually has a difficult time trying to control his dog. Within a short period the dog out on a walk starts anticipating a confrontation by straining on the leash long before he gets to the houses where dogs usually bark. Without realising it the owners are contributing to their dog’s aggression by regularly walking the same route and allowing their dog to walk in front of them. When walking past barking dogs shorten the leash to 1 foot (12 inches) and hurry past the property on the opposite side of the street.

Converting Prey to Play

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Converting Prey to PlayFrisbee 01
Modern living in suburbia makes it difficult for owners of herding – and working breeds to redirect the strong prey drive their dogs are bred with. These intelligent, special talented dogs such as Border Collies, Aussies, Bouviers, German Shepherds and Boxers to name a few are most often only adopted as “pets” or because “we like the breed.” Their owners have little understanding of their special needs. Left alone they end up barking, chasing cats, kids and cars as they race up and down along the boundary fence and as a result often end up abandoned or given up for adoption. Read the rest of this entry »

Taking Scent

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Taking Scent

IMG_0856[1]A dog’s amazing sense of smell is beyond human comprehension. It is an inborn, natural ability. We cannot teach a dog anything about it other than to distinguish certain smells from others and to do it with confidence, correctness and concentration.

The basic Scent Discrimination tests require from the dog the ability to find the handler’s scent on a cloth that is placed between 5 other neutral cloths, also known as “blanks.” Your task is to teach the dog to find the scented cloth you want him to find, and to do so on command. This means that the teaching of scent discrimination now concentrates, almost exclusively, on cloth scenting. (Previously the dog had to find the handler’s article from between up to ten other articles.) Read the rest of this entry »

Treats And Toys in Training

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Treats and Toys in Training

2015-04-13 08.43.22Most handlers begin to use food as a reward in training their puppies when they join a club. The reason why treats are used is because it is such an effective method. We do not have to teach a puppy to eat and the puppy easily connects the offer of food to the preceding action like coming when called. It has been said that food to dog is like money is to humans and as a result it is silly not to make use of it when you start training your dog.
Food is also very useful when we want to capture a position such as the “Sit.” By moving a treat over a dog’s nose and eyes we can easily get the pup to sit down without actually touching or pushing the dog. The moment the pup reaches a sitting position we introduce the word “Sit” and at the same time the handler immediately feeds him. Now is also the time for praising and petting. Read the rest of this entry »

Competition Heeling Tips

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Competition Heeling Tips

In my experience, “Heeling” is the most difficult exercise in the obedience ring. In fact it is generally stated that it takes up to two years to get a dog to cope with top level heeling. Competition Heelwork is an art that not many handlers can truly master. The “stays” are your bread and butter exercises for which you must get full marks. Heeling is more demanding. It puts a great deal of pressure and precision on a dog. Thus it can have a negative effect on a dog if not treated correctly as a game to enjoy.
This article is aimed at helping those entering competitive obedience with useful tips to provide the “polish” that can prepare you for what you aim to achieve at a trial or show. Remember, competition is only a test of training, so if the training is incomplete you cannot expect to do well. Read the rest of this entry »

Biting the Leash

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Biting the Leash

One often sees a new dog at the club with what looks like a fairly new and expensive leash that has been damaged by teeth marks. This already puts the relationship between owner and dog on the wrong footing. Puppies in particular, with their
teething problems are culprits here and may be injured when the handler jerks on the leash to get the pup to let go or stop biting.

My advice is always to make your first puppy leash out of a light piece of rope, followed by an old leash for training. Save the better or new ones for shows and visits. All my pups start sleeping in a cardboard box and get an old, worn-out leash
for training.  Once dogs have developed good habits they deserve special privileges and can be trusted with a nice

Leashes must never be left with or attached to an unsupervised dog. Read the rest of this entry »

Home Training Sessions

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Home Training Sessions

In “A Trained Dog is a Good Dog” I state that it is the responsibility of all dog owners to ensure that their dogs are properly trained. The basic obedience training exercises covered in my book should all easily be within the capabilities of the average family dog. It is also highly recommended that once you start obedience training you should join a club.
However, the time with an instructor at a club is too short to master all that was covered in a lesson. During the six days alone with his dog, the owner/trainer must try to build on what he has learnt at the club. How to go about those home training sessions is what this article is about. Read the rest of this entry »

Training Basics

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Training Basics.

We do not have to teach dogs to sit, lie down or stand because they already know how to do it. What we do teach them is English as a 2nd language and to want to sit or lie down, reliably when we ask for it.

Food is used as a reward for performing a command and hand signals are used instead of words. The dog learns that he only gets rewarded if he sits when told to do so. Read the rest of this entry »

Basic training rules

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Basic Training Rules:

Never correct or scold your dog after calling him to you or punish him after he has done wrong!

Pick up after your dog. Do not allow your dog to play or interfere with other dogs in training. Play with and exercise your dog every day.

Be patient! Never lose your temper! Never use violent tugs or slaps or kicks to punish your dog! Remember, you are going to have fun with your dog. If either you or your dog is frustrated, take a break and try again later. Read the rest of this entry »

Training tips

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The Settle Down command

The “settle down command.” To teach this command you have your dog on a leash, You have it lie down beside you and you put the leash under your foot so that if the puppy tries to get up, it self-corrects it.You’re not pushing the dog down; the leash is holding it down. Do that for half an hour at a time each day and it teaches your dog to be quiet. A lot of people who have a very active dog think “oh my god, I’ve got to take it out for another hour’s exercise.” All you’re doing then is giving yourself an incredibly fit dog that needs four or five hours of exercise a day.What the dog really needs to learn is to settle down by your foot. Eventually you’ll be able to take it off the leash and your dog, no matter whether your home, at the office or at a friend’s house, just sits down by your foot and stays here. Read the rest of this entry »

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