How do you train your dog?

This is a place to gain some understanding of dog behavior and to assist people in training their dogs and dealing with common behavior problems, regardless of the method(s) used. This can cover the spectrum from non-aversive to traditional methods of dog training. There are many ways to train a dog. Please avoid aggressive responses, and counter ideas and opinions with which you don't agree with friendly and helpful advice. Please refrain from submitting posts that promote off-topic discussions. Keep in mind that you may be receiving advice from other dog owners and lovers... not professionals. If you have a major problem, always seek the advice of a trainer or behaviorist!

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I\\\'ll do- anything for a- treat!
Barked: Mon Nov 5, '12 7:35am PST 
I use force-free training, but the methods and rewards vary greatly depending on the environment and what I'm teaching. Because Lupi is an inherently fearful dog, my main goal is to constantly build her confidence.

I use a lot of food rewards (literally her kibble) and tend to always have dog food in my pockets. She rarely eats out of a dish! I've had people ask me why I give her so many "treats" and my response is, "What does your dog do to earn his food?". The truth is, Lupi is extremely food-motivated. We actually had to teach her to accept- and later enjoy- petting, using food. She will go to any lengths to earn her food, including diving into "scary" situations with relish.

I also use a lot of environmental rewards. Especially when we're outdoors, practicing obedience. A minute of heeling is rewarded with a bit of squirrel-chasing. A sit gets us to cross the street. Stuff like that. Initially I always use food to teach the behavior, then replace it with something else she loves.

For tricks and fun stuff I like to use a clicker. It helps Lupi understand that we're learning something new and she'll start offering behaviors. I recently taught her "wave" in a few minutes, after capturing the raised paw she often does when unsure. It's amazing how quickly clicker-savvy dogs will repeat an action.

I try not to use positive punishment with my dog, since I don't like it and she is very sensitive. She's constantly watching me and knows when I'm upset with her, even if I don't say anything. She's generally very obedient so there's not much I'd feel inclined to correct her on anyway. I do tell her "leave it" and the one negative cue I use is "enough" if she's obsessively licking at night and I just want her to stop. All other cues involve her actually doing something else (go to your bed, lay down, off...) so even though I use them to interrupt "bad" behavior (jumping, etc.) she sees them as positive, not negative (I hope!)

People sometimes think Lupi understands English, because I don't usually use one-word cues. Typically I'll say something like, "Could you please bring me that sock I dropped?" or "Why don't you go lay down on your bed?". This is just how I've always talked to her and it feels weird saying things like "fetch" instead of "Bring me your toy Lupi-girl!"

I don't follow one particular trainer. I use what works for me and my dog. I've learned so much from this site, especially when Lupi was a puppy and I was a CM fan. I learned my lesson never to idolize a "trainer" and never to use methods I felt uncomfortable with, just because they worked for other people.

But mainly, I listen to my dog. I try to be consistent and encouraging. I try to use every opportunity to build her trust in me. I try not to limit her. Just because she is fearful, I try not to shelter her or cause her to miss out on the world. I've made many mistakes over the years, but I never stop trying to give her the best life she can have.

we will dance in- the ring without- words
Barked: Mon Nov 5, '12 10:50am PST 
Heeling or loose leash walking? Because they are different, but if you shape, you can teach the latter and then raise the criteria till you have the former.

I do clicker train. Keep in mind, clicker training is not about the clicker, it is about the methodology. You can classically condition any marker signal as a secondary/classically condition reinforcer.

My best method for teaching loose leash walking is on Asher's page in a video:

Dr. Watson

Not a wiener- dawg!
Barked: Mon Nov 5, '12 12:14pm PST 
Random but I taught my dogs to heel first. Just personal preference -- I needed to take them through tight spaces with lots of people. smile

Thor CGC

God of Thunder
Barked: Mon Nov 5, '12 2:28pm PST 
I meant like obedience ring heeling smile I would never use positive punishment on a fearful dog. That is a recipe for disaster :/

we will dance in- the ring without- words
Barked: Mon Nov 5, '12 2:42pm PST 
The method in my video can easily be kicked up to a full heel by just continuing to tighten the criteria.

If you want a heel, the most important part of that IMHO is focus. Above all else.
Alva BH

I ordered the- best dog for me- & got her
Barked: Mon Nov 5, '12 4:12pm PST 
Everyday manners? Well, I don't recall training them except housetraining, getting familiar with different things she might see as an adult dog (railway station, slippery floors, lifts, other dogs, traveling by bus etc.) and sitting before she gets her meals.

I want to prefer positive reinforcement and operant training but I am way too impatient and slip too often towards aversives or luring. Though I think I can lure without addicting the dog with the lure. More training for me... We used to have two Tervuerens and my mom taught them at local dog sport club by lure-treat-attach command-fade the lure-method.

When I train a new trick I mix luring, shaping and target training, which ever feels fitting. I reward with food, usually meatballs. The problems occur when I should proof the behaviors and I start rushing. I have to hold my horses. I guess I have so many problems with this because no one taught me and I didn't get the first crucial times right. When she knows the trick I can also use toys and "wrestling" as rewards.

If I train obedience I train it by book. Heel is heel, it is not 'walk on loose leash' or 'walk somewhere on the left and stare at me'. It is precicely 'walk beside my left knee and keep eye contact what ever happens'. I actually trained heeling in three or four parts. I lured Alva to the right position and if I stood I made her sit (command or a little hand signal) and when I walked she walked too but lured (straight forward & right turns). Separately I practiced switching from the front into the heel position and the same training applied to left and 180 degrees turns in heeling. Separate training issues were also eye contact and fading the lure. Then I combined all the parts and kept practicing.

I usually train my dogs off leash. I start in my apartment and continue outdoors. Leash can be attached later. So I don't have to fade it in heeling and stay.

I don't know if I could say I would be any trainer's fan.

Edited by author Mon Nov 5, '12 4:22pm PST


Barked: Tue Nov 6, '12 5:56am PST 
I can't say that I've modeled my "methods" after one particular trainer.
I've taken classes with several different trainers, I've taken things I've learned on Dogster, and I seek advice from those who have dogs that perform the behaviour I want. (Point in case, I wanted Rigby to jump into my arms an cue...I had some friends that do freestyle help me with it)

With Rigby, I started using food to reward her. She will do just about anything for food - including going out of her comfort zone to do so, such as greeting strangers or jumping into my arms. I have started to incorporate toys as a reward as well.

Being the strong willed brat that she can be some days, I have had to use verbal corrections. Typically a harsher tone in voice will get her to stop the undesirable behaviour.

Fortunately, as far as loose-leash walking is concerned. Rig already seemed to grasp the concept since we brought her home. She doesn't pull often, and when she does it's usually a result of external stimuli that she is afraid of/not please with.
Heeling isn't something I ask for often unless we're doing the obedience drill at a show, but using treats worked exceptionally well for her on this point. She quickly grasped that if I say heel, she is to walk exactly beside me while making eye contact. She's actually thrown this behaviour while on an off-leash hike....and ended up tripping over roots because she wasn't looking where she was going laugh out loud

Barked: Tue Nov 6, '12 11:10am PST 
Whips and chains. The odd chair to beat them back with. laugh out loud

Marker training generally. Small steps put together for larger concepts. I want to teach heel so I start with what it is I find most important. For a good competition heel, focus is nice but the dog can look at me from 40' away too so I teach position and what "heel" actually means in terms of their position. I use a bucket to teach spatial awareness and once that's 'there' the expectation of focus is added. Once that's there, steps get added until full passes through the ring are a cakewalk then we move to other areas. The first part takes the longest by far and away.

For just general pet heeling it's just tightening the bubble from a loose leash walk. If they've got a LLW already it's something that can be done in an afternoon.
Tiller- (Skansen's- Ira in the M

I DO Exist...To- Drive You Batty
Barked: Tue Nov 6, '12 11:47am PST 
My root is traditionalist training modified by R . It is really a split set now. I train by positive reinforcers, but I proof traditionally....which means once a dog knows a command well, to school him in the novel/distracting with use of light corrections to keep him on track, correct responses then PR'd lavishly. I think you get a more willing dog via positive reinforcement. But old school proofing, they haven't reinvented that cart - at some point the training needs to move from the actual commands to the interplay when all is not peaches and cream. Where the dog is schooled in maintaining the handler connect in the unideal, unexpected, bizarre, and for a trust and camaraderie to be built there. The former (PR) gives me happy dogs. The latter (proofing) gives me a dog that can be handled in any situation, which has darted so many impending disasters and results in dogs with strong coping mechanisms. Just links to the old adage...."training is not for the moments you do expect, but those you do NOT." I have been around long enough to know the latter is the far more important. You may need it only four or five times in a dog's life, but those times are the ones that prone a dog to getting totally messed up and issue-y, or it just being another day in the park.

Different methods do work best for different dogs. I have two very contrasting breeds in Giants and Am Cockers. The approach between the two is quite different. Same basic fundamentals, but applied from different angles. Here are some contrasts.

.....Cockers are soft, Giants are hard. Approval matters muchly to a Cocker, whereas Giants do not give a fig. Being reassuring to a Cocker is essential, and with Giants either wasted motion or it disengages them.

.....Cockers are dependent, Giants are independent. The only time I will lose a Cockers focus is one he is not functional. I will lose a Giant's focus when he may be highly functional. Focus building exercises, thereby, are differ with these two very different bananas.

.....Cockers LOVE reinforcers. Balls or food....I have one food freak (like MAJOR, lol!), and one utter ball freak. It is how they tick. Giants, on the other hand, not so much. They are much higher drive, and what the real world can offer is so much heroin compared to the comparative aspirin of liver snaps wink

.....Cockers are very stubborn. Moreso than Giants, I find. Harder to redirect. I need my patience far more well filled than with the Giants, who by reputation may be more stubborn, but I do find embracing that Cockers are stubborn and you just need to be a little more enduring and patient with them goes much better.

.....Giants are very testing and will be sneaky. Cockers are not. Those who use clickers with Giants usually need to have immense aptitude and skill, as they often figure the system out, and after getting their C/T will do something outrageously disobedient. I have one cohort who was working with a Giant who would start to nip at his handler's ankles once he got his C/T. I cannot explain to you how Giant-y that is. They are equally famed for knowing when they hit out of range with an ecollar and just taunting you. Intelligence? Not always a great thing, lol! You need to be far more on your toes with a Giant and look for every little nuance.

.....Cockers are lovers who really can't get in much trouble. Giants are potentially quite dangerous. Do I train them to a higher level and expect more? Yes. I do admit my Cockers are far more spoiled, just because the potential fallout with them is so slim.

.....Cockers do not mind repetition if it gets them their reinforcer. They will do something 10,000 and never tire if it gets them their reinforcer. Giants bore ***incredibly**** easily.

Just some examples. Hope that helped!

Edited by author Tue Nov 6, '12 12:06pm PST


Crazy Ball'O Fur
Barked: Wed Nov 7, '12 5:22am PST 
My training method is mostly extremely positive. The closest thing I do to punishment is teaching the "No Bella" Command which she knows means that she is doing something wrong and will pay attention to me to see what I want for her to do. Other than that it's all positive love, kisses, treats, and toys. Recently we have been working on "Door" which is the command I give her to either close the door. She loves it getting her rewards, and when I was working with her on "Door" today she just sat there pushing the door and looking up at me again and again and again and again until I gave her a treat.

The only other way I train sometimes is with a "Show than reward" method (Not sure if it has a real name or is even a realy thing) That I've found works well for her. I do this for things like "Target" I place my hand against her nose and then reward her for that. After a very short time she caught on that what I wanted was for her nose to touch my hand. Then all I had to do was keep me hand still and stay the command and she knew to touch her nose to my hand.
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