A Reminder About Teaching Reliable Recall

On teaching your dog a reliable recall.
Just as a reminder…our dogs live in the moment. They are constantly making decisions based upon where the value is for them. If you haven’t spent the time teaching your dog that coming to you when you call, will result in a positive outcome, why would your dog ‘choose’ to come vs doing something else?
 
Always begin teaching that recall word in an environment with minimal distractions, and only use it when you can guarantee success.  Using positive reinforcement to train your dog will build strong value for behaviors. And guard that word like it is gold. Take care to not follow it with an aversive (from your dog’s perspective).
A reminder about teaching your dog a reliable recall.
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Tip For Solving Dog And Puppy Behavior Problems

I was standing and talking with a new client the other day as her puppy was at her feet. The deeper into our conversation we got, the more her puppy began moving around. A few minutes later, he jumped on her leg, grabbed her sweater, and then when she removed it from his mouth, he took interest in her shoe.

Her instincts were to tell him no and push him away. She very much wanted to know how she could teach him those activities are bad.

dog training tip on solving problem behavior issuesShe didn’t, however. And, instead, it was a great opportunity for an important lesson in behavior. I thought I’d share a little about what was learned.

Here is the thing to remember about behavior. (I know I keep repeating myself but it is important to keep it forefront.) It always happens to get a consequence. If the behavior reoccurring, then it is working to get the animal a consequence of value to him.

Okay, so before we go down that path, what is wrong with simply yelling at a puppy to tell him Bad boy when he has his mouth on a sweater or shoe that should not be there? For one, if you have tried that in the past and your puppy is continuing that behavior then the yelling, attention and perhaps moving of your arms and lets is actually of value to your puppy instead of an aversive. Or it could be that in the scheme of things, the chewing on a sweater or shoe is SO valuable to that puppy that it trumps any negative association with your yelling at him.

On the other hand, if your yelling at him does work to reduce the frequency and/or intensity of your puppy’s unwanted behavior, then I’d have to ask, at what cost? It most certainly does not teach your pet what he should do instead. Just a few of the potential negative ramifications of using an aversive teaching strategy are that it can cause apathy, generalized fear, counter aggression and escape/avoidance behaviors. Punishment requires escalating the intensity in order to maintain that suppression, and ultimately the teacher then becomes associated with those aversives. You can read more about punishment here.

Puppies, dogs, even birds and other animals did not join our lives inherently knowing what behaviors are and are not acceptable to their human companions. Those are things we need to teach them with fairness.

In this case, there were many things that occurred prior to the unwanted chewing behavior to set the occasion for that behavior. Those things are called Antecedents; and some potentially could have been lack of other opportunities to chew on appropriate materials, boredom, lack of exercise, lack of attention. But also, the consequence of the inappropriate behavior was fulfilling those needs – attention, play, sensory stimulation, etc. After all, no attention was given to him until he decided to put something into his mouth.

There are many ways to solving this. One way is management. When you cannot actively be involved with supervising, playing and/or training; a puppy who is crated with tasty chew toys or who is actively engaged in a puzzle toy is not interested in chewing on a sweater. A puppy who is tired from active training and exercise also has less value on seeking out that sweater and more value in resting.

And, another consideration…did I mention training?  You can teach your dog or puppy an incompatible behavior that he can do INSTEAD of the unwanted behavior with as much or greater reinforcing value as the unwanted behavior. Think of it this way. If your puppy or dog does not know (because you have not taught him) what behavior you want him to do when you are standing with him at your side, then is it fair to blame him for coming up with his own ideas?

During that meeting, I began reinforcing the puppy for laying down by giving him a treat when he was laying on the floor. Within minutes, guess which behavior he was choosing to do on his own? After awhile, I incorporated play as a reinforcer for his laying down. When he lay down, I clicked and released him to retrieve a toy. Wow, talk about building HUGE value for laying down! After talking in the hall, when we walked into another room, can you guess again which behavior he immediately did?

My challenge to you is this: Instead of thinking in terms of what your pet is doing that is bad from your perspective, think about what that behavior is getting him and what you can teach him to do instead. And, as always, have fun!

 

 

Pet Training Tip: Know Your Criteria

A dog, puppy, parrot and other pet training tip:

A reminder to you – when you are teaching your pet, have in mind what that behavior should look like. If you don’t have a clear idea, it will be really tough for your non-human animal to do what you want him/her to do.

dog and Puppy Training Tip: when training your pet a behavior, know what you want that behavior to look like

Be An Encourager To Your Pet

I love this quote. We are all educators to companion animals…and humans. When you think about your role as one of motivator and encourager, you will find you will have a much more engaged student.

Quote about teachers: The job of an educator is to teach students to see the vitality in themselves

Dog Training Tip: Remember, Training Goes Both Ways

Can you relate? Remember, in every relationship each of us is shaping the behavior of the other whether we realize it or not. Learning never stops. Behaviors that get repeated are the behaviors that have a history of getting the learner something of value.

dog training tip from Cincinnati trainer Lisa Desatnik of So Much PETential

Dog Training Tip: Just Teaching A Behavior Is Not Enough

I was reminding someone of this over the weekend. It’s important to remember, just teaching a behavior is not enough. If you want your pet to continue to have fluency with that behavior, you’ve got to continue reinforce it…to remind your pet that choice is going to be of value to him/her. It doesn’t always have to be food – there are so many ways to reinforce behavior.

dog training tip using positive reinforcement

In Your Training, Be Generous With Reinforcement

I was out somewhere and I saw it again. A man was in a busy area with his dog doing his best to try and keep his dog’s focus from the external environment, only his attempts were not working too well. His dog continued to pull on leash, and with each pull the man gave the collar a jerk and said, ‘No!’. It was obvious the man was frustrated with his dog.

“Ugh, my dog is so bull headed, stubborn, dominant, or bad,” would be words I am sure he would have told me had I asked.

But was this really the case?

Well, what I saw was a dog who clearly viewed her environment as having much more value than listening to or sitting at the feet of her owner. The environment was so valuable, that even the jerking of the leash, which was intended to be a positive punisher to lower the probability of the leash pulling behavior, did not give the dog reason to stop reacting to what was going on around her.

Ironically I had just come from working with another dog and his owner on a very similar issue. However, in just a few minutes time the dog I was working was focused on me and sitting at my side, and able to look at the environment only to turn his head back to me.

What did I do differently?

dog training tip from Cincinnati dog trainer Lisa DesatnikOne of the things I did was I focused on what I wanted the dog I was working with TO DO instead (which was sitting at my side), and rapidly marked and reinforced wanted decisions on the part of my student to give immediate, successive feedback to him. I wanted to make the wanted behavior of huge value to my student by making the lesson fun and engaging for him.

When I teach clients about clicker training or moment market training (whether you use a clicker, verbal or other marker), I teach them the importance of a rapid reinforcement schedule in the beginning. The more opportunities you have in a short training session to let your student know, YES, that was a correct decision, the more your student is going to want to pay attention and learn from you – or at least learn what you are intending to teach.

Your training sessions are not a time to be stingy with your reinforcers. If you want to build high value for the behavior you are teaching, it is your job to give your student a reason to value it. Remember, when you teach by choice, your pet is going to do the behavior that experience has taught him/her gets him a consequence he/she wants. Give your pet many reasons to CHOOSE the behavior you want to see.

 

Why Repeating Cues Breaks Down Behavior

Ever had a nagging mother or significant other? You know how you eventually tune them out? That is called habituation and our dogs can do that too. It’s a great idea to teach the behavior that you want to see and get it rock solid before adding your cue. And begin practices in a place with minimum to no distractions. If you are needing to repeat a cue over and over, your dog is giving you feedback. And if you continue, you will weaken that cue. Instead, go back and work on strengthening the behavior with high value reinforcers. Teach your dog that doing the behavior you want him to do is going to be absolutely worth it for him.

5-01 hear

If Trainers Can Teach Wild Animals Without Coercion, Pet Owners Can Too

I was watching a video of a trainer at a park and wanted to share this thought I had. Definitely something to give you thought…trainers of large, undomesticated animals teach behaviors without physical correction. If they can do that, we can do that too with out pets. It is how we build a love for learning. #dogtrainingtips

dog training tip on setting animals up for success

A Dog Training Tip: Practice Consistency

Sam wanted to pop in again. He has a feeling many of his friends are just as confused. It is important to remember, we have a lot to do with the success of our pets. If we don’t provide clear criteria and cues on what behaviors we want to see (and reinforcement for those behaviors), it is awfully difficult for them to understand what behaviors we want to see – and to understand the meaning of our cues. #dogtrainingtips

dog training tip on consistency

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