Doggie Training

Basic Dog Training

First things first, find yourself a good dog training facility and sign up for classes. If you are in Wake county NC, please see the list on my resources page for some links to some very good dog training facilities.

On this page we will go over some basic dog training tips, the four stages of how we dogs learn, and aids that should help you humans understand the proper way to train us, or at least the basics of proper training.

Dog’s four stages of learning:

Yes we dogs have four stages of learning. We learn new things in the following order:

Acquisition – this is where we become familiar with what you (the owner) are trying to teach us. We learn what the command means. Such as "sit."

Fluency – this is where the command or action becomes part of our behavior. This means we will "sit" when you ask us too, every time. 

Generalization – ok this is where we do the command wherever we are. We could be at home or in the park, if you tell us to "sit" we'll sit. This is important, because before we learn this we may only "sit" in our own home, but not anyplace else.

Upkeep – This is really important for you humans. You need to keep using the same command all the time wherever we are. If you don't it may slip our little doggie minds. 

Before you begin training your dog, it is important to know the proper way to show Positive reinforcement (praise) and how to correct us for bad behavior. There is a difference between behavior and obedience issues. Behavior issues are when we act poorly or in a way that is not appropriate. Obedience issues are when we "ignore" the commands given to us by people. There are many reasons we may do this, but the main one is we don’t see the person giving the order as being our leader. This is because they have not given us proper leadership in the past, so we just don’t listen to them.    

First one basic rule for you humans; you should NEVER, NEVER hit, kick, slap or spank your dog for any reason. This will lead to more behavior, obedience and emotional problems for the dog. It will make your dog leery, hand-shy, fearful, and sometimes aggressive.

Positive reinforcement (praise)

This is the best way to train your dog. This should be a no brainer for you humans, but sometimes people don't always understand the value of positive reinforcement and the effect it has on us dogs. Training your dog is really a two-way street. The dog needs to respect you (but not out of fear) and you need to respect your dog. The best way to earn your dog's respect is to give them lots of positive reinforcement for behaving properly. This will also set you as their leader in their minds. Why? Because you are showing them the proper way to behave and rewarding them for behaving properly. Their reward is "Yes", "Good Dog", pats on the head, and let's not forget treats!

An example of a proper positive reinforcement situation:
You ask your dog to "sit" as soon as she sits say "Yes" in a happy even tone and give her a treat and a pet on the head. Continue for the next 3 to 5 minutes, up to 3 to 4 times a day and in no time your dog will understand "sit." Yes, it is that easy.

Corrections: How should they be done?

The biggest problem with corrections is that most dog owners use them too much, yes all you dogs out there are with me on this,  but the humans out there are saying; "What??" Look at it this way, if we hear things like "No!," "Bad Dog!" and "Stop that!" everyday over and over, we start to ignore it and it becomes less meaningful for us. Now keeping that in mind, if the interaction between us (dog and human) is mostly praise for good behavior, then corrections will be taken much more seriously. It is important to only correct us when you actually catch us in the act of behaving poorly. Otherwise we don't know why you are correcting us. Why? Doggie attention span is not very long, only about 5 to 10 seconds. If we did something wrong 5 minutes ago, we will not remember doing it at all.    

An example of a proper correction situation:
Say you come home and find your dog chewing on the coffee table leg, in a firm, even voice, tell him "No" or "Stop." A correction should be short, sharp and immediate, but NOT loud. You do not need to yell at your dog. (Mom likes to use "unt-uh" meaning no). Do not continue to correct him. Instead take him to his chew toy(s) and encourage him to play with them and praise him for playing with them. This is called redirection, from bad behavior to good behavior. Remember; never hit, kick, slap or spank your dog for any reason, you'll only be asking for more trouble in the long run.

Ivy at the start of two agility hurtle jumps, Robin is leading her.

Ivy jumping over the first hurtle.

Ivy landing after making the first jump

Ivy jumping over the second hurtle.

Ivy landing after making the Second jump