We all want to communicate with our dog appropriately, fairly, and most importantly, clearly! Does your dog listen after the third time you ask him/her to do something? Maybe your dog doesn't listen at all. You could be having a hard time potty training because your dog doesn't understand where to go. We believe that all dogs can be trained and that all dogs want to be "Good Dogs"; they just need to be shown how. With proper training that clearly teaches dogs what we expect and want from them, we can accomplish developing that “Good Dog”. There are three principles to take into consideration and focus on when we are working with our dogs whether we are teaching your puppy simple housebreaking, obedience, or even advanced training like agility or scent work. These principles all go hand-in-hand when training your dog and are guaranteed to show results when put into practice!
Linking your dog's behavior with positive and negative reinforcements. This is how your dog processes cause and effect. Any behavior a dog has must have a positive or negative reinforcement within 1.3 seconds. Dogs live in the moment, so it is important to catch the behaviors in the act. Sometimes our timing can be off, like for instance, when an owner reprimands a dog way after an event took place, the dog may get a false sense of what they are getting into trouble for. Another example would be giving a free reward or treat to your dog way after a good behavior is performed. These are actions that we want to avoid. We want to have our dogs understand clearly what they are doing right or wrong in that moment, so immediate discipline and reward is key.
Influencing the decision-making process. What gets your dog to do something? What is your dog's highest valued resource? Motivation can help encourage a dog to have good behavior and eliminate a bad one. This could be as simple as rewarding your dog with a treat when they respond to a command. When using the right tools and techniques, you can successfully know what motivates your dog to do or not do what you what you expect of them.
Creating clear communication and attitude for your dog. This is the most important principle of dog training and one of the hardest to follow. Dogs are creatures of habit, so being consistent plays a huge role in training. When you are being consistent, you are promptly reacting the same way to any significant behavior your dog acts out. Praising your dog every time they come when called, keeping their rules the same in other peoples' households, or immediately responding to the dog in the same way when they perform a negative action; all of these are relatable examples of being consistent with your dog. If we lack in consistency, we fail to be fair in setting the right expectations for our dogs.
Written by Danielle Dolce- Master Trainer and Owner of Strong Mind K9 LLC
"How to Clearly Communicate with your Dog" is featured in LowCountryDog Magazine Fall Issue 2016