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.

In all dog training there are some basic phases you must go through to organise your training properly:

1 Response to a verbal command or hand signal:

In order to get a reliable response from a verbal or non-verbal command we must first:
· Teach him what he is expected to know and reward him for doing it right! No feedback = You can do what you like.
· Help him as much as possible to learn that particular step. Dogs are not mind readers, they do not know what you want.
· Make it as easy as possible for the dog. Teach him in an area where there are fewer distractions.
· During this phase the dog is never corrected for not performing. Withholding rewards should tell the dog whether the response is right or wrong.

2 Corrections and Rewards:

A correction is an act you take when you tell your dog to, “stop doing what you are doing” and “pay attention“. The dog’s name means, “pay attention” so your first action will be to call your dog’s name and reward /praise any attention given to you by looking at your face. It may be necessary to capture an inattentive dog’s attention by passing a tasty tidbit past his nose and drawing his gaze towards your face as you say, “Watch me!” Young dogs are easily distracted and a “pop” on the leash or clapping your hands may help to regain attention. Later it may happen that the dog refuses to obey a command that you know he definitely understands then a correction/ “pop” will tell him that he is going to have to obey whether he likes it or not. Experience will teach you how strong a correction should be to regain the attention of your dog. Withdrawing your love, even for a short while ,by saying, “Too bad” and turning away from him should serve as a correction! No anger, no frustration, just a simple rule: Obey commands and you will get the treats you like. Don’t obey and you don’t get them. Dogs choice!

Corrections must be effective, not harsh. They should be instructive, immediate and consistent. The dog must always be warned beforehand, so that he has an opportunity to avoid the correction by doing what he has been taught to do previously. “Effective” means that the dog does not have to be punished repeatedly for the same thing otherwise it is abuse. If it is not working, try something else. Stop and consult your instructor. Punishment by kicking a dog can ruin a dog’s temperament and its relationship with its owner permanently.

Insistence is the key to training. The dog must comply within 2 secs otherwise the command is repeated in a calm but insistent voice, followed by, “Good dog” after compliance and an immediate repeat of the exercise. The dog must give you his undivided attention and perform promptly and willingly after a single request to be followed by praise, treat and play (release).

It is important to remember and accept that we cannot get dogs to think back and recall what happened in the past, even a few seconds or a minute ago. Owners may call their reaction “guilt,” but dogs do not identify with this human response. They will only be scared and confused by ill timed corrections and punishment. If a dog is corrected immediately after he has done wrong, he will begin to understand. Delayed punishment does not work, no matter how “guilty” the dog may have looked. Punishment, in the case of dogs, applies only for what has happened immediately before the event. When the owner returns home and sees a hole in the garden and he punishes the dog when it comes to greet him, the dog will understand that he has been punished for coming to greet his owner and not be aware that the punishment was intended for digging in the wrong place. The dog will quickly become shy of the owner and begin to avoid him. Breaking a “Stay” command must be corrected just as the dog begins to move, not when he is halfway to his owner and looking at a bird. He may then think that the punishment is for looking at the bird. Try not to give your dog an opportunity to misbehave because then you never have to punish him.

Verbal reprimands are more effective than physical corrections. They can be given at a distance and can be administered instantaneously. “Ugh,” “Sit,” “Down,” “Shush” etc. tells the dog that he is about to do something wrong and will be punished if he does not correct himself. By having avoided a correction the dog can actually be praised. It is the tone of voice and its volume that reprimands the dog. However, stopping a dog from doing something wrong does not teach it what it should have done. That is why the instruction immediately after the correction is so very important since it informs the dog of what was expected from him so that he can be praised. Beginner trainers are inclined to give a pop correction at the same moment as they give a verbal reprimand with the result that the dog reacts to the physical correction and not the verbal one. Only when the dog does not react to the voice command should the pop correction be applied.

Avoidance training is far more effective than punishment training. Dogs must, as far as possible, be given an opportunity to avoid a correction by reminding them of previous training and what is expected from them. For example, when visitors arrive and the dog is looking forward to greeting them, he should be given a “Sit” command in order to avoid jumping-up behaviour. Punishing a dog for some wrong doing does not teach it how to avoid it in future. When the dog barks for too long, a “Shush” or clapping of the hands should precede any physical contact with the animal.

Consistency means that the dog must be corrected verbally or physically or both each and every time it misbehaves. If the dog is corrected each time at the club and not at home, he becomes a situation or location misbehaviour. Similar to owner-absent misbehaviour.

Rewards after correct behaviour may take many different forms and must be carefully considered. When a dog has been asked to do something, it must be rewarded the moment it has complied. By using food, praise and stroking the dog in the beginning, a powerful message is sent to the dog to repeat the behaviour requested. Good behaviour is rewarded with food and affection while undesirable behaviour is corrected. For most dogs food is a very powerful reward especially if it is food that the dog particularly likes. Using food is not bribery because the dog first has to perform the required movements before he receives it. In the same way as a child is taught to say, “Please” before getting something, a dog can be taught to come and heel next to the owner.

Once a dog has, with the aid of food rewards, learnt a particular behaviour, the food reward is immediately reduced to 50% and then only given intermittently, but is reserved for the better and faster compliance. Beginner trainers also make the mistake of rewarding the dog every time it performs the same behaviour. The dog must know that he will be rewarded but need not know exactly when. This creates anticipation which in turn produces concentration by the dog. This will produce and maintain an eager and reliable performer. Repeated, expected rewards are not only boring but the owner’s control over the dog becomes reward-dependent. The dog may stop responding when it does not get a reward or if it knows that the owner does not have food available.

3 Proofing:

Proofing means that the stage is reached when we strengthen or increase the reliability of the dog’s response. We need to make sure that the dog follows the commands immediately and first time no matter what happens around it.

o We add ever stronger distractions.

o Change location and surfaces, time of day, weather etc.

o Move further away from the dog.

o Vary commands and signals, withholding rewards etc.

Three time rule:
This means, if the dog seems to be guessing and makes a mistake during the Proofing phase the dog gets an automatic help or correction on the next three attempts at the same exercise. (If he refuses to “Come” when commanded, he will automatically be popped or tugged towards you the next 3 times he is called.)
After 3 automatic corrections, the learning process is again tested by giving the next command without an automatic correction.
If the dog makes the mistake again he gets 3 automatic corrections again before he is tested again.

Repetitions: Dogs learn by repetition and it is estimated that an activity must be repeated at least thirty times before the dog has mastered it.
1 Practise a new exercise at least 5 times in a session.
2 Do 5 rep/sessions daily if possible.
3 Do not go on to the next exercise until your dog can do the exercise 5 times without the need for a correction.

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