There are many aspects to dog training. The biggest tip I can give you is that dogs learn by association. If the dog receives something wonderful for a behavior then that behavior is more likely to occur again. This is called positive reinforcement. Four Legged Scholars uses Positive Reinforcement dog training. Positive reinforcement increases the trust bond between you and your dog.
You can also use something that the dog highly dislikes to decrease a behavior. This technique is not one that I recommend. It can include shock collars, choke chains, etc. Anything that causes pain can inflict a huge conflict with your dog. Your dog could become aggressive or fearful.
I love using clicker training. This is a form of positive reinforcement. The clicker marks the behavior and tells the dog that they have done the correct behavior and that a treat is coming. First you must teach your dog what the clicker means which is called clicker loading. Click one time and immediately give your dog a treat disregarding any behavior your dog is doing. Do not practice clicker loading if your dog is performing bad behaviors such as barking or jumping. Practice clicker loading in a variety of rooms and a variety of different times throughout the day for about 3-7 days.
Once your dog understands that click means treat you can then pair the clicker with a behavior. For example: when you ask your dog to sit click and treat (C/T). Now sit will happen again because it was rewarded.
Why clicker training?
- The clicker speeds up the learning process.
- The clicker allows you to mark behaviors that happen quickly. (For example if your dog is walking on the leash nicely for less than a second you can mark it easily with a clicker. You probably would miss the reward time with just a treat).
- It is universal so it sounds the same no matter who uses it. As a result, it is great to use in families.
- It reaches the primitive part of the brain called the amygdala so the dog knows he did the correct behavior without consciously thinking about it. A verbal word such as “yes” requires conscious thinking.
When you first train a new behavior you use C/T continuously. Once the behavior is occurring at least 70% of the time then you can stop using the clicker for that particular behavior, and you can reward with a treat randomly. Sometimes you give a treat for performing the behavior and sometimes not.
Johanna Teresi Professional Trainer and Owner of Four Legged Scholars LLC