Hi all, George here. For the next several blog entries, we’re going to shift gears a little bit and cover some basic training techniques. To kick things off, I’m going to start with what is probably the most important part of training, name recognition and awareness.
In operant behavioral training, having a reward mechanism is critical. In a previous blog, I discussed the proper techniques in using treats for training, which you can read here. Since the motivation for your dog is food, it is important that your dog is hungry. The first step before beginning any training regimen is starting a deprivation schedule. Your dog has to have not eaten for at least a few hours before starting a session. In my blog about food guarding, which you can read here, I discuss why it is important to feed your dog on a schedule, and not to leave food out all the time.
To start things off, you should offer a treat for any acknowledgement of their name. When giving the treat, it is important to always give the treat with your right hand. Part of your goal is to get your dog to always watch your right hand. This is important because that’s the hand that you’ll be giving commands with. Dogs respond much better to visual commands than audible commands, so learning the right way to use your hands is just as important as learning the vocal commands.
When training your dog, it is always important to maintain the correct posture and demeanor. When you present the treat to your dog, hold it in a closed fist in your right hand, and present it to your dog in a way that shows you own the treat, and you control whether or not the dog receives it. If your dog lunges or jumps at all for the treat, take it back. Only allow your dog to have the treat when they wait for you to give it to them instead of letting them take it from you. If you are unsure about any of this, be sure to watch the attached video to see my demonstration of correct posture and treat distribution.
Thanks for reading, and be sure to check back later this month for a new blog on dog training. Next time the topic is correction sounds. As always, remember that you can control your dog’s behavior by controlling your own.
Be sure to check back often for more tips and tricks on giving your pet the happiest and healthiest life possible. George Domsic is the owner at Benchmark Pet Services, and has more than 40 years experience in the field of dog training and psychology.