Non Food Rewards to Offer Your Dog

Posted on Aug 14, 2016 in Dog Training, Positive Association, Positive Reinforcement, Posts, Puppy, Unleashed Control | 0 comments

 If you reward someone’s behavior when it is occurring, they are more likely to do that behavior again in the future.  I wanted to give you some tips to get your dog to do the behaviors you want without always reaching for the treat bag.

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Heidi is running to me as my body is inviting, she is rewarded wtih a long scratch under her harness.


Using your voice to reward your dog.  I often ask dog handlers to use their voice in a happy tone so their dog knows they have done something right.  Dogs perceive high pitched voices as invitations to come closer and engage, conversely, low tones are perceived as a warning or distance cues to our dogs. Avoid saying your dog’s name or even talking to your dog in a firm or scolding tone as this will make your dog ignore you in the future.

Using your body to reward your dog.  Dogs primarily read body language so it is important that your body language and voice are saying the same thing. In the photo of me to the right, the dog sees  an invitation to engage with me as  I am crouched low, soft relaxed joints, clapping, open mouth, soft eyes and balanced weight distribution. Leaning forward would be more threatening.

Using your hands to reward your dog.  Dogs who enjoy tactile touching  love a great scratch in the right spot. I rewarded Heidi with a long scratch under her harness, she always dances with joy when I scratch her.  I should mention that she has learned to receive this from me.

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As I continued to pet this pup during puppy class, he remained in my space because the scratching was so very rewarding to him.

Using toys to reward for your dog. Dogs who enjoy playing fetch or tug are often willing to do a few behaviors for a fun game of tug. Be sure the reward is long enough for your dog, example. If you call your dog to you and engage in tug, be sure the reward of tugging last long enough to be considered rewarding for your dog. If you only tug for 10 seconds and then put the toy away, this may actually be a negative to your dog.

Practice these tips for just five minutes today and watch your dog engage with you longer and come to you faster!  Using non food rewards will strengthen the bond with your dog and provide additional life enrichment fun for you both!

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Teaching a Dog to Sit, Stay will Improve His Emotional Control

Posted on Dec 26, 2015 in Aggression, Barking, Dog Training, Leash Frustration, Leash Training, Pets, Positive Reinforcement, Posts, Rescue Dog, Training, Unleashed Control |

Briggs is practicing a down stay in the field.

Briggs is practicing a down stay in the field.

This is Blog #4 in helping the dog who is barking and lunging at people.

Step 1. Management; prevent him from practicing the unwanted behavior.

Step 2. Desensitization and counter condition; change how your dog feels.

Step 3.  Understanding your dogs Distance Cues.

Step 4.  Emotional Control Exercises, teaching your dog to sit and down stay will help your dog have better emotional control. 

Begin training sessions of  5-10 minutes several times a day in a low distraction environment.(Some where in your home is a good place to start). The secret to a good stay is to not move through the stages too fast. Build up gradually by adding duration and distractions.

Nice sit stay in the heel position by Layla.

Nice sit stay in the heel position by Layla.

Using the Collar: Say dogs name and ask dog to sit, touch the collar and say “stay” while holding a flat hand in front of the dogs face. Reward quickly with a few treats, repeat.  Now try it without holding the collar, “come, sit, stay” reward, reward, then release. Repeat while standing.

Using the Leash:  Say dogs name and ask dog to “sit, stay” while a raising a flat hand. Reward quickly with a few treats, then release your dog and repeat. 

Duration: You may have to reward with treats every few seconds, then release your dog.  The goal is your dog will want to “stay” as this is rewarding, when you release him the food stops.  If your dog moves before you release him, walk or look away and try the pattern again but reward generously until they understand what it is you are asking.

Add Criteria: Using your dogs daily meal, repeat this pattern “come, sit, stay” or “heel, sit, stay” reward and release, repeat while adding duration in every room of your house.  Add higher criteria by having a familiar person walk past and reward generously if your dog holds his sit, stay.  If he breaks, no worries, show him the food and repeat the pattern until he is successful.  Progress to sit, stay outside in the driveway, yard and street with no distractions then add criteria by having a  familiar person walk past and reward generously for good emotional control.  

Down stay in a public place.

Down stay in a public place.

Success: By now your dog understands that when a person walks by “good things can happen.”  If your dog training is failing, I will bet it is because the criteria is too high for the dog.  Set your dog up for success and reward many repetitions of sit, stay or down,stay in many locations with only familiar friends passing by.  As your dog matures, he will develop better emotional control in a variety of situations AND see people passing by as a predictor that good things can happen.  If your dog does not have strong emotional control at home, then please do not ask him to sit and stay in a public location as this criteria is too high.

Time Frame: Each dog will progress at a different pace and they can only go at their pace.  Factors that change how your dog feels and reacts can include how a person smells, how tall they are, male or female, how fast they move, if they make direct eye contact, if they are nervous,  lean over the dog, cough, laugh or even stomp their feet.  If there is one person or several makes a huge difference how each dog feels.  If your dog goes over his comfort level, he may lunge and snap.  Do not punish, simply slow the progression down until you reduce your dogs fear. 

Personal Experience: I have progressed countless clients through this process, and two of my own dogs! I am not worried

Breakfast was earned holding a down stay in different locations.

Breakfast was earned holding a down stay in different locations.

about either of my dogs lunging or biting a guest.  I rescued my Scottish Terrier at 5 years of age with a history of multiple bites, after 18 months of training she passed her Canine Good Citizen Certification and can now greet people in my house. For months, I had to introduce her to guests on the street, then in the yard and eventually inside my home,  this is a detailed desensitization process.  The good news is you will get there with your furry friend, just take your time, manage when you can not train, train below your dogs threshold and practice daily using his meal.

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Does Your Dog Come When You Call?

Posted on Apr 11, 2015 in Canine Good Citizen, Dog Training, Dominance, Fun, Leash Training, Pets, Positive Association, Positive Reinforcement, Posts, Puppy, Rescue Dog, Safety, Socialization, Training, Unleashed Control | 0 comments

 

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Bonding with my new foster dog

 Many people contact me to help them with recall or getting their dog to come when they call them.

A good recall begins with a strong relationship between the human and the dog. The dog who happily comes when called shares a bond with them and trust them completely. They go to them repeatedly because they associate their owner with good things.

If you call your dog and they look at you as if to say why? “Why should I?”   It would be nice if relationships were that easy, but we know any relationship has a balance of trust and respect.  Anyone parenting children can see similarities as we are able to say “because I said so!” Many of us have learned to give a specific reason, expressing our intentions clearly we will have better success and maintain a healthy relationship with our children in the process.

When we put up a barrier or close the conversation with an intense emotion, we create a sense of frustration, anger or distrust which leads to avoidance.  Avoidance is safer than engaging for a child or dog so they go in the back door or simply put their head down and ignore you.

My foster dogs may think their name is come when they first arrive as they often earn their breakfast when they respond to “come” and then I release them to more freedom.  Hence, conditioning them that Come is a good thing.

My point is if you want your dog to come repeatedly, then reward generously as he is choosing you over that amazing smell in the leaves or snow, that he really would love to investigate.  If he does not come, then I suggest you begin to walk towards him, the second he looks at you, you smile, get down low or bend forward and open your arms with clear intentions and a happy “yes” or click with your clicker and your dog will run to you with excitement much more consistently.

If your dog begins to run to you, but stops 10 or 20 feet away, you can still reward this by tossing him a treat and walking away.  Many dogs have been grabbed when they came close so may avoid being grabbed again as it was scary to them.  Repeat, by calling your dog and tossing the treat again, then walk away, call your dog and get low offer the treat out to the side, quietly drop one on the ground and turn or move away.  You are building a relationship build on trust.  If you or anyone else has tricked this dog, he is smarter now and will not be fooled, never trick a dog or you lose trust and your recall will certainly suffer as a result.

All my foster dogs are usually off leash within 1 week as I condition them that coming to me is 100% positive and feels safe. Enjoy your dog and remember coming when called is much more likely if you are not dominating, but building a trusting relationship.

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Good Things Happen…

Posted on Nov 2, 2013 in Fun, Positive Reinforcement, Rescue Dog, Training, Unleashed Control | 0 comments

When I introduce a new rule structure to my dogs or to my clients dog, I make sure good things happen when the dog performs the wanted or desired behavior. We can all agree that consequence drives behavior in all of us, but I really want you to think of the consequence as a positive and rewarding one.  It is not just that I believe it works, it is scientifically proven that if a dog does a behavior and what follows is rewarding, the behavior will be repeated.  This repeated behavior performed several times per day and continued over a few weeks becomes a desired habit.  Is that not what we all are trying to do?  Shape our dogs behavior into good habits?Here are a few examples you might want to try:

1. Good things happen when you are on your mat! 

Good things happen when you go to a mat,
these two are chewing on stuffed kongs.

Simply have your dog near you with a handful of treats and your dog’s mat.  Lay the mat on the floor and when your dog sniffs it, looks at it or step on it, say “yes” and drop a treat or two between his paws.  Ask your dog to get off the mat, pick it up and walk a few steps with it in your hand.  Repeat the process of laying the mat down and rewarding your dog for moving onto the mat.  You can initially walk around the mat and stop while facing your dog with the mat between you two.  When he steps onto it, say “yes” and reward generously.  Initially, put the mat away between sessions and play this game a few times per day.  When you see your dog get excited that you are about to lay the mat down, add a cue like “go to your mat” just before you lay the mat down.  Once your dog is walking on the mat quickly, wait on the “yes” and see if your dog offers you a sit, then say “yes” and reward.  Eventually your dog will offer you a down and then you can jackpot this behavior.

To maintain this behavior of “go to your mat” you will want to randomly reward your dog when you see him go to his mat without being asked.  This can be a good massage, kong time, bone time, yummy treat or a good scratch, whatever your dog finds rewarding.  I use this each morning as we enter the kitchen, each of my dogs will move towards their mat and I will eventually feed them while they are on their mat waiting patiently.  I no longer ask them to go to their mat, they know going to their mat predicts they will get fed, which is rewarding to them and nice for me not to have 12 paws under my feet!

2. Good things happen when you look at me!
Training your dog to perform a simple behavior is nearly impossible without first having your dog’s attention.  If your dog is not quick to look at you, teach your dog that looking at you is ALWAYS followed by a reward.
Again, begin with a handful of your dogs yummy treats and your dog near you, maybe on a leash if necessary.  Say your dog’s name, and when he looks at you say “yes” and toss him a treat.  Wait a few seconds and repeat, saying his name, and marking the moment his head turns towards you and rewarding.

Another game that works well to get your dogs attention is to simply sit in a chair with some treats in hand.  Toss a treat on the floor and when your dog eats the treat he will most likely look at you to see if more food is flying.  When he looks your way, say “yes” and toss another over his head.  When he eats the treat he will come near you again and you can smile and say “yes” when he looks at you and repeat the process.  Your dog will learn that looking at you predicts Good things happen, and will repeat the behavior.

If you are reading this Blog, then I assume you have a dog or are thinking about getting a dog.  My hope is that you are a positive influence in training your dog and not one who feels they need to dominate a dog.  Consider how effective science-based training is, and how your dog “feels” when you are training.  I hope your dog feels good when you are near, when he looks at you and when you reach to touch him.  If not, read more of my blog to learn how to train your dog while also having a happy, healthy and trusting relationship.

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