I am a crazy dog lady. Some people have a lot of cats. I have a lot of dogs. I currently have three puppies! They are six months-old-now.
I am not the best dog trainer in the world. That’s for sure. Our pups are house-trained and can sit, but when left to their own devices, trouble can ensue. I decided to do a little research into dog training and share with you.
It takes time to train your dog. It is time well spent. There are classes your dog and you can take together, but they are not really necessary if you understand basic behaviorism.
The University of Georgia explains:
In assuming that human behavior is learned, behaviorists also hold that all behaviors can also be unlearned, and replaced by new behaviors; that is, when a behavior becomes unacceptable, it can be replaced by an acceptable one. A key element to this theory of learning is the rewarded response. The desired response must be rewarded in order for learning to take place (Parkay & Hass, 2000).
For our dogs, rewards are the key for them to learn desired behavior. If we tell them they are “good dogs”, give them extra attention, or a treat, they will want to repeat the behavior.
Remember Pavlov’s dog?
Pavlov was studying the digestive process and the interaction of salivation and stomach function when he realized that reflexes in the autonomic nervous system closely linked these phenomena. To determine whether external stimuli had an affect on this process, Pavlov rang a bell when he gave food to the experimental dogs. He noticed that the dogs salivated shortly before they were given food. He discovered that when the bell was rung at repeated feedings, the sound of the bell alone (a conditioned stimulus) would cause the dogs to salivate (a conditioned response). Pavlov also found that the conditioned reflex was repressed if the stimulus proved “wrong” too frequently; if the bell rang and no food appeared, the dog eventually ceased to salivate at the sound of the bell.
Many people like to treat train their dogs. I have never been a huge fan of it beyond learning to sit or coming in the house when I want them to. I don’t carry them around with me on walks, but perhaps I should try it. Consistency is the key.
Skinner developed a more comprehensive view of conditioning, known as operant conditioning. His model was based on the premise that satisfying responses are conditioned, while unsatisfying ones are not. Operant conditioning is the rewarding of part of a desired behavior or a random act that approaches it. Skinner remarked that “the things we call pleasant have an energizing or strengthening effect on our behavior” (Skinner, 1972, p. 74). Through Skinner’s research on animals, he concluded that both animals and humans would repeat acts that led to favorable outcomes, and suppress those that produced unfavorable results (Shaffer, 2000).
Training a puppy with treats uses the treats as a reinforcer for positive behavior, just like extra praise or attention.
We were sent [amazon_link id=”B00JJVD2S8″ target=”_blank” ]Company of Animals Coachies Training Treats[/amazon_link] to try. The ingredient list is simple and made from whole foods. I know what everything is on it! Grain free, oven-baked, and only one calorie per treat.
I like that these treats are small, which is perfect for training.
Coachies Training Treats have been a favorite among dog owners for over 10 years throughout Europe and they can now be enjoyed by dogs in the USA.
The grain free treats are oven baked to lock in nutrition and flavor and with no artificial colors, flavors or added sugars making the New Coachies Training Treat the healthiest way to train and treat your dog. These tasty miniature motivators are great for use in reward based training.
I will use them today on my walk to improve my puppy’s response off leash.
The ASPCA has further advice for training your dog:
Regardless of which method and techniques you use, effective dog training boils down to one thing—controlling the consequences of your dog’s behavior. If you want to influence the way your dog behaves, you need to:
Reward behaviors you like.
Make sure behaviors you don’t like aren’t rewarded.
What I like about the simplicity of these two rules is they don’t say punish your dog for chewing up your shoe. Negative attention is attention. Your dog may cower and look like it did something wrong, but if he/she continues to chew up your shoes, then the punishment is actually being rewarded by the negative attention. Of course, hitting an animal is never an option or effective, as well as other strange methods like tying the shoe to the dogs head all day.
The ASPCA offers more great advice:
To communicate clearly and consistently with your dog, you need to understand how she learns. Dogs learn through the immediate consequences of their behavior. The nature of those consequences determines how they’ll behave in the future. Dogs, like other animals (people included), work to get good things and avoid bad things in life. If a behavior results in something rewarding—like food, a good belly rub, playtime with dog buddies or a game of fetch with her pet parent—your dog will do that behavior more often. On the other hand, if a behavior results in an unpleasant consequence—like being ignored or losing things she finds rewarding—she’ll do that behavior less often.
If You Like the Behavior, Reward It
Some training methods use punishment, like leash corrections and scolding, to discourage dogs from doing everything except what you want them to do. Other methods cut right to the chase and focus on teaching dogs what you do want them to do. While both tactics can work, the latter is usually the more effective approach, and it’s also much more enjoyable for you and your dog…
If you can teach your dog polite manners without hurting or frightening her, why not do it? Rather than punishing her for all the things you don’t want her to do, concentrate on teaching your dog what you do want her to do. When your dog does something you like, convince her to do it again by rewarding her with something she loves. You’ll get the job done without damaging the relationship between you and your best friend.
If You Don’t Like the Behavior, Take Rewards Away
The most important part of training your dog is teaching her that it pays to do things you like. But your dog also needs to learn that it doesn’t pay to do things you don’t like. Fortunately, discouraging unwanted behavior doesn’t have to involve pain or intimidation. You just need to make sure that behavior you dislike doesn’t get rewarded. Most of the time, dog motivations aren’t mysterious. They simply do what works! Dogs jump up on people, for example, because people pay attention to them as a result. They can learn not to jump up if we ignore them when they jump up instead. It can be as simple as turning away or staring at the sky when your dog jumps up to greet or play with you. As soon as she sits, you can give her the attention she craves. If you stick to this plan, your dog will learn two things at once. Doing something you like (sitting) reliably works to earn what she wants (attention), and doing things you don’t like (jumping up) always results in the loss of what she wants.
Control Consequences Effectively
As you teach your dog what you do and don’t want her to do, keep the following guidelines in mind:
Consequences must be immediate Dogs live in the present. Unlike us, they can’t make connections between events and experiences that are separated in time. For your dog to connect something she does with the consequences of that behavior, the consequences must be immediate. If you want to discourage your dog from doing something, you have to catch her with her paw in the proverbial cookie jar…
Consequences must be consistent When training your dog, you—and everyone else who interacts with her—should respond the same way to things she does every time she does them. For example, if you sometimes pet your dog when she jumps up to greet you but sometimes yell at her instead, she’s bound to get confused. How can she know when it’s okay to jump up and when it’s not?
This is such great advice! Humans usually aren’t around when the puppy chews up the shoe, so punishment is not effective. Best to just remove shoes from where the puppy is when left alone if you can not be there to catch them in the act.
Fortunately, we don’t have any shoe chewers in our family, but we do have other problem behaviors like jumping up or not listening to verbal cues. We will use this advice and the treats to improve our puppy training!
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