1. Have your dog come to class HUNGRY and bring something of high value as a treat when training. Those hard biscuits and dried kibble just may not cut it with all the distractions so make it special based on your dog’s dietary restrictions. Some of my favorites include cheese, cooked hot dogs, chicken, freeze dried meat from Omaha Steaks for Dogs, cooked liver, etc. WIll your dog get fat? Not if you reduce this amount from his daily intake. Will he become treat dependent? We use intermittent reinforcement with treats gradually raising the bar for performance, and substitute praise and petting kind of like a roulette of payoffs.
2. In the home between classes training is part of everyday life. Training sessions are ANY time you are with your dog. They do not have to be long. In fact five minutes here and there can be very effective. I often train between television commercials and when cooking in the kitchen. And remember always for your dog they must EARN EVERY REWARD. It’s like saying “please” and it will help get your dog to understand you are his fearless leader. Does your dog sleep in bed with you? Alas, your task will be more difficult since he equates himself as your equal with this high honor. To restore the pecking order have him get off and on. If he won’t comply then opt for separate sleeping arrangements until the obedience is under control. I use the crate and invite the girls up when I want to. It is not their decision. Going outside, leaving the car and entering a store always requires that my dogs go AFTER me. They must wait. This also teaches self control.
3. Train in many places. Here I am training at Porcelanosa in Ramsey, NJ. I have also trained at the Apple store in Chestnut Ridge and other public places including the entrance to Home Depot. Again high-reward treats and a hungry dog will help with this in addition to patience and consistency. You will need to work up to this level but it is totally worth it! I am having a FREE walk 2/9 at 1 pm in Glen Rock by the Duck Pond. Here is a chance to meet other owners and train with new distractions. And we always have fun!
4. Get the entire family on board. The more impressions that you have or experiences that are consistent with everyone the better your training will be. I encourage families to post a list of their commands with their meanings on the refrigerator. Keep it simple with four or five basic ones. This way when company comes you can figure out what words you will use to command Fido. And if Fido ignores you and you keep saying the word he will learn that he doesn’t have to do it. They are smarter than we think.
5. Consider a private lesson. I am not trying to drum up business. Really. I have many customers. But honestly I find that a one-hour lesson often helps owners get on track and sets a nice foundation for future training.
6. When in class get started with your dog right away. If you can multi-task as I give brief instructions you may continue to work with your dog. You may ask questions but for the sake of fellow students they must be short as we progress through the lesson. The last five minutes of class are for all other questions on any topic.
HOMEWORK: Please watch this video and do these exercises: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7V3EwEoPF7Q You can use the clicker or YES
NEXT CLASS: Lots of Loose Leash Training
Here are some excellent training resources…
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=csuMGROvvVU&feature=related Teaching a Polite Greeting (note the use of YES it is like using a CLICKER)
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kfiNFtembDA We will be doing this in class
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VDFL14SYUk8 Teaching your dog to STAY (I like this series of free videos)
http://centerforshelterdogs.org/Home/DogBehavior/ProblemsandManagement/JumpyMouthy.aspx Interesting video on the Jumpy/Mouthy Behavior
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zX3ChYTrpYs Learning self control at the doorway