How to Teach Teach your Collierville TN Golden Retriever Dog or Puppy to Stay

JackGRStay

I use stay as a temporary command whenever I want Bentley to remain in one spot for a brief period.

This is useful if I drop or spill something and want to pick it up without being “mugged” or bothered by a curious dog.

When I ask Bentley to stay, I am saying, “Please remain in this location. I am going to leave or perform some task. I will come back to you and give you a reward for staying.”

When teaching stay, I never walk away and then call the dog to me. I always return to the dog and release him from the stay.

I teach stay in cycles. Each cycle I add a bit more movement or action. Once the dog learns the concept of stay, I add distractions. I might practice the same cycles with items in my hand, while waving my arms, clapping, dancing, etc.

Once the dog will stay for my distractions, I work with the dog and invite other people to play the role of distractions.

Before you begin training your dog, you’ll need to learn a bit about communication and motivation. Please visit the Dog Training Start Here Category. There you will learn about markers and rewards, two excellent topics for communicating and motivating! A prerequisite for “stay” is “Attention on Cue”. It doesn’t hurt if your dog already knows “Sit” too!


Cycle 1:

With the dog on a lead, I say “stay”, wait 1 second, and then push my open hand towards him – like a stop signal. Then I withdraw my hand.

I wait 2 seconds and then deliver the reward marker to release the dog, followed by  a food treat.

Cycle 2:

With the dog on a lead, I say “stay”, wait 1 second, and then push my open hand towards him – like a stop signal. Then I withdraw my hand.

I take a couple of steps with each foot, but do not move forward or backward. I march in place. I stop moving my feet.

I wait 2 seconds and then deliver the reward marker to release the dog, followed by  a food treat.

Cycle 3:

Same as cycle 2 except I might take a backward step and then return, or twist my upper body or shoulders just a bit.

I stop all body motions.

I wait 2 seconds and then deliver the reward marker to release the dog, followed by  a food treat.

Following Cycles:

Each cycle I get a bit more creative with my actions or movements. I always return to the dog, pause 2 seconds and then release him by delivering the marker.

Troubleshooting Stay

Many people tell their dogs to stay and immediately turn and walk away.  Naturally the dog follows. He has no clue what stay means. When this happens, people just repeat the sequence but say “Stay” a bit harsher, as if now the dog will understand.

The key to success is teaching in cycles. Add one small bit of motion during each cycle. If your dog does not stay, reduce the motion and try again.

It helps to have a particular goal in mind. For instance, teach your dog to stay when you drop a pencil and then pick it up. Each cycle will add a bit more of the motion involved in bending over and picking up an item.

Be patient, add small “pieces” of distractions and you will succeed!

If your dog follows you, herd him back to the beginning location, repeat the command and try again. This time use less motion. If your dog fails 2x in a row, make sure you succeed on the 3rd cycle. Perform an easy cycle with no distractions.

I never let my dog fail 3x in a row. THree failures in a row tell me that I am adding distractions above his current skill level.


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Happy Training!
Alan J Turner – How’s Bentley – Memphis TN
Private and Group Dog Obedience Training – Collierville TN

How to Teach your Dog or Puppy to Lie Down


KojackThere are many methods to teach down. Before you begin training your dog, you’ll need to learn a bit about communication and motivation. Please visit the Dog Training Start Here Category. There you will learn about markers and rewards, two excellent topics for communicating and motivating! A prerequisite for “stay” is “Attention on Cue”. It doesn’t hurt if your dog already knows “Sit” too!

Here’s how I use and fade a food lure when teaching down via the lure method. It’s much easier to lure a down from the sit position, so the pup must know sit.

Introduce this (and any new behavior) in a quiet area where you are not competing for your pup’s attention.

Place a few small treats in a dish nearby. Stand in front of your pup. Ask him to sit. Acknowledge the sit with a “thank you” or a smile.

Place a small piece of food in the palm of your open hand. Hold it in place by crossing your thumb over it. Keep your fingers straight. Now, hold your hand with the treat next to your shoulder, palm out – as if you were taking an oath. Say nothing.

Hold your hand in position for about 3 seconds and then place your open palm (with treat) directly in front of your pup’s nose. Say nothing. Slowly move your open hand straight down, being careful not to lose the “connection” between the dog’s nose and the treat. (Your hand should never be more than 2 inches away from your dog’s nose during this step.)

Depending on the dog’s size and your height, you may need to kneel down before you place your hand in front of the dog’s nose.

The dog should move his head down in an effort to follow the treat. Keep moving your hand down, until it is almost to the floor. Right before your hand reaches the floor, move your hand just a wee bit closer to you. This will give the dog space to move his body into the down position without standing up.

When the dog plops his chest down on the floor, mark the instant of success and then release the treat.

Repeat two more times (with a treat in your hand each time) for a total of three trials.

On the fourth trial, do not place a food treat in your hand. Repeat the same sequence of steps. Slowly move your empty hand downward to lure the dog into the down position. Mark the instant of success and then get a treat from the dish. Toss the treat on the floor.

This will keep the dog’s attention focused downward and get him into a standing position, ready for the next trial. Repeat the sequence two more times without a treat in your hand.

Troubleshooting – Lure Down

When luring your dog into the down position, he might stand up. If your dog stands up, it is likely that your hand is too far away or you are not moving it straight down. Your hand should track the natural path that the dog’s head tracks when he lays from the sit position.

Here’s what I do if the dog continues to move out of the sit position, even though I am following the correct path with my hand. I remove my hand the instant the dog moves out of the sit position, and start over from the beginning.

Once your dog will follow your empty hand, it’s time to fade your hand motion.

Start the next exercise immediately after three success followed by a very short play period.

Lure Down – Fading the Hand Motion

Now that your dog has followed your empty hand a few times, you can fade your hand motion and teach the dog that your initial ‘hand-beside-shoulder signal’ is the cue to down. Here’s how I do it.

To warm the dog up, repeat the same sequence as before, without a treat in your hand. Hold your open palm up next to your shoulder as if you were taking an oath. Wait about 3 seconds and then place your hand directly in front of your dog’s nose. Slowly move your open hand straight down, being careful not to lose the “connection” between the dog’s nose and your hand. Your hand should never be more than 2 inches away from your dog’s nose during this step.

The dog will move his head down in an effort to follow your hand. Keep moving your hand down, until it is almost to the floor. Right before your hand reaches the floor, move your hand just a wee bit closer to you. This will give the dog space to move his body into the down position without standing up. When the dog plops his chest down on the floor, mark the instant of success and then get a treat from the dish and pay your dog. Do this two more times for a total of three trials.

On the fourth trial, follow the same sequence- except – instead of 3 seconds; hold your open palm at shoulder level for several seconds and just smile at your dog. Wait quietly. If your dog is looking at you, wait up to 15 seconds. Say nothing. Just smile. Be prepared to mark the instant of success as many dogs will go down within the 15 seconds.

If your dog doesn’t go down within 15 seconds, complete the sequence as before. Try again two more times with the 15 second wait time. Most dogs will “get it” within these three trials.

Troubleshooting – Hand Signal for Down

If your dog averts his attention during the 15 second period, make some soft noise that will reengage his attention right before he starts to fidget. Don’t use words. I usually make kissing or clucking sounds. Be patient.

If your dog doesn’t go down within the 15 second period, follow the same sequence as before. Slowly move your open hand straight down, being careful not to lose the “connection” between the dog’s nose and your hand. The dog should move his head down in an effort to follow your hand.

Keep moving your hand down but stop moving your hand 2 or 3 inches before you get to the floor. Your dog should keep going down. Mark the instant of success and then give your dog a treat from the dish.

Methodically decrease the amount of downward hand motion from trial to trial.

After several trials (or maybe several short sessions with several trials) your dog will go down earlier and earlier during the sequence. Now, the open palm in oath position is your hand signal for down!

Happy Training!
Alan J Turner – How’s Bentley – Memphis Tn
Private and group dog obedience training and behavior
Germantown, Collierville,Memphis,Arlington,Bartlett,Cordova,Olive Branch,Oxford,TN,MS

How to Teach your Dog or Puppy to Go To Place

bentley2

Go to Place is one of my favorite behaviors. I use it to keep Bentley, my AKC registered, Australian Terrier. from licking the dishes while I load the dishwasher, irritating my guests, pestering me during dinner, or any other times I want him to relax in one spot.

Before you begin training your dog, you’ll need to learn a bit about communication and motivation. Please visit the Dog Training Start Here Category. There you will learn about markers and rewards, two excellent topics for communicating and motivating! A prerequisite for “stay” is “Attention on Cue”. It doesn’t hurt if your dog already knows “Sit” too!

You can have more than one “place” for your dog. Bentley has 2 places in my 14X14 den! I have a crate pad placed on top of a ottoman, and he has a comfortable dog bed on the floor. I like to use a dog bed because it’s portable. I can place it in my car, on my back patio, in a hotel room or wherever my dog is welcome.

Here’s a good crate pad type of bed made of synthetic sheepskin. I like these because they are easy to wash and have a raised edge for the dog’s head. Hey, those guys like a pillow too!

Purchase an inexpensive bed, like this one, if your guy or girl is still a puppy.

The more expensive beds are for dogs that don’t treat the bed as a toy.

Before I teach any behavior, I always like to outline the steps necessary for success.

What are the individual behaviors that make up go-to-place? The dog must go to the place, then lie down and then stay. You could break it down into many smaller pieces.

For example, before the dog can go to the bed, he must first look towards it. Before he can lie on the bed when asked, he must know the command “down”. And, before he can stay on the bed for say, 15 minutes, he must be able to stay for 15 seconds.

There are many ways to teach go-to-place. Some require more thought than others. I have written a short description of how to teach your dog to go to place AND how to use Classical or Pavlovian Conditioning to condition your dog to like his or her place!

Go-To-Place

There are many ways to teach go-to-place. Some require more thought than others. I’ve found that luring is the easiest for most of my clients.

Feed the Birds

Before we start, I say, “Think about feeding pigeons in the park”. First you toss bird seed. Before long, pigeons find the food, land on that spot and start feeding. Then you toss more seed as they are feeding. Do this every day at noon.

After a few days, the sight of you approaching will attract the pigeons. They are already in place waiting for the food! Do the same with your dog and your dog’s bed.

Get your dog’s dinner out and instead of placing the bowl on the floor, place it next to you on the dinner table, coffee table or kitchen counter.  Place the dog bed in a spot a few feet away.  Toss a few pieces of dog food on the bed.

Do not speak to your dog during these steps.

While your dog is eating, toss a few more pieces to keep him busy looking for food.  As soon as he finishes and starts to walk off the bed, toss more food on the bed.

After he eats all the food on the bed, your dog will come towards you. Before he reaches you, toss a few more pieces over his head and onto the bed. Say nothing.

Repeat this sequence a few times. Wait until he starts to walk towards you and toss a few pieces over his head, onto the bed.

Soon your dog will be on the bed waiting for the food to rain down around him!

Add the Cue

After your dog catches on, speak your “go-to-place” cue when your dog is walking towards you and before you toss any food. Some of the commands I like are “Your Spot” and “Cozy Mat”.

You may need to help your dog by walking towards the bed and pointing to it or touching it with your hand.

When your dog gets all four feet on the bed, mark the instant (with your reward marker) and then toss a food treat. Walk a few feet away. If your dog follows, give the cue and move towards the bed. Mark the instant he gets on the bed and then toss a few pieces of food.

Once he is going-to- place on cue, ask him to “down”. Toss a few pieces of food after he goes down. Over several trials, increase the periods of time in-between tosses of food.

Condition Go-To-Place

Chewing helps dogs relax. At this stage you can add a special chew treat into the routine. After your dog is on his bed, give him a long lasting, high value, unique, chew treat.

Here’s the best treat for conditioning GO-To-Place. This free range chew will not stink up your house, nor will it stain your carpet, like the ones you find at local pet supply stores. CAUTION, This chew has the potential to turn Fluffy into Cujo! Read about Food related aggression by clicking anywhere in this sentence.

By pairing a special chew treat with the bed, you are taking advantage of classical or Pavlovian conditioning. The bed will elicit the same physiological calming response as chewing.

If he gets up from the bed, say nothing, just take the special treat away.

The sequencing is important. The dog must be on the bed before receiving the unique chew treat. The instant he gets off the bed, remove the treat.

By following this sequence, you are teaching your dog that lying on the bed predicts the delivery of the chew treat, and leaving the bed predicts the loss of the chew treat.

At first, you’ll always give your dog the unique treat once he is on his bed. After several sessions, you won’t always give the special chew treat. Sometimes you will, other times you won’t.

The act of lying on the bed will elicit the same calming effect as the chew treat, even when he does not have the treat.

A common mistake is to give the dog the special chew treat when he is not on the bed.

In order to maintain the association, the unique chew treat should only be delivered when the dog is on the bed.


Happy Training

Alan J Turner

Companion Animal Behavior Counselor & Trainer

Private and Group dog training services in Memphis TN

http://howsbentley.com


Teach Your Memphis Cavalier King Charles Spaniel Puppy Additional Commands (cue, signal) for the Same Behavior

Cavalier King Charles Spaniel

I always suggest that my clients teach their dogs and puppies two commands for each behavior. Sit is a god example. One command should be audible (word “sit”) and the other can be visual (folding of arms across chest).

Once you’ve taught your dog to obey one cue or command for a particular behavior, you can teach another cue for the same behavior in 6 trials – or less than 2 minutes!

Cavalier King Charles spaniels are great family pets!

Before you begin training your dog, you’ll need to learn a bit about communication and motivation. Please visit the Dog Training Start Here Category. There you will learn about markers and rewards, two excellent topics for communicating and motivating! A prerequisite for “stay” is “Attention on Cue”. It doesn’t hurt if your dog already knows “Sit” too!

Trial 1: give the new cue, wait one second, give the old cue. Mark the instant she performs the behavior and deliver a food treat.

Trials 2 and 3:  same as Trial 1. Add one second per trial to the elapsed time between delivering the new cue and delivering the old cue. So the 2nd and 3rd trial will have a 2 and 3 second delay between the new cue and old cue.

Trial 4: give new cue only and wait for her to perform the behavior (several seconds if necessary). Mark the instant she performs the behavior and deliver a food treat.

Trial 5: give old cue and wait for her to perform the behavior. Mark the instant she performs the behavior and deliver a food treat.

Trial 6: give new cue only and wait for her to perform the behavior. Mark the instant she performs the behavior and deliver food treat.

Now you can use either cue. In areas with high distractions, you can use both cues. If you do use both cues, pause a second or two between the cues.  In other words, do not use both cues at the same time.

Happy Training!

Alan J Turner – Companion Animal Behavior Counselor & Trainer, Canine Specialization

How’s Bentley – Private and Group Dog Behavior and Obedience Training

Memphis, Collierville, Bartlett, Cordova, Germantown, Arlington, Jackson, Olive Branch,Oxford, MS, TN

Teach Your Memphis Labrador Retriever to Respond to Your First Command

HersheyLabSome of my clients repeat a cue or command to their Memphis labrador retriever puppy or dog many times, either in efforts to get the behaviors, or to keep the behaviors. For example, many people repeat the word sit when their dogs don’t sit on the first command.

Saying stay…stay…stay… while walking away and extending your hand out like a stop signal is another common example.

I have a set of “loose” rules for repeating commands. Generally speaking, I use one technique with dogs that are learning or practicing. Another is for dogs that have learned and practiced a command (in a similar environment) and are not cooperating.

Sometimes it’s difficult to know if the dog is not cooperating or genuinely confused.

Unless I am certain that the dog can perform under the current circumstances, I always address the situation as if the dog is learning. I try to help the dog perform the behavior.

In other instances, I might treat the dog as if he is both learning and not cooperating.

Dogs Who are Learning, Practicing and Cooperating

Before I repeat the command, first I change something about my body language, the dog’s position, or both. Then I ask again. These position changes are quick, fluid and sometimes unnoticed by an observer. I may change position several times as I try to get a particular behavior.

Some of the adjustments involve only my positioning and body language. Others prompt the dog to change position.

For instance, suppose I ask for sit. If the dog doesn’t sit, I might lean towards the dog with my upper body or lead the dog a step or two to the left or right and try again.

If I am seated (when I ask the first time), I stand up. I might move a step closer to the dog, or take a step farther away, or bend forward, or tilt back, or square my shoulders, or kneel down, or whatever I feel might be helpful. After one or many of these small adjustments, I’ll repeat the command.

Some dogs need more help to get started.

With these guys, I’ll ask for “shake” or “touch” or whatever tricks or behaviors the dogs will perform. After the dogs perform, I ask for the initial behavior again.

When I do anything that causes a dog to move, I’m prompting cooperation.

The act of encouraging the dog to move creates a tension break, a sort of casual conversation.  It gives the dog a chance to warm up to the whole cooperation idea!

Eliciting muscle movements primes the dog to perform other motion behaviors. It’s like pushing a car. Once you get the car rolling, it’s easier to keep it rolling and to steer it!

Dogs Who are not Cooperating

If I am working with a dog with all of these attributes, A) knows the behavior, B) can do the behavior in the current environment, C) has done the behavior in the current environment, I rarely repeat commands with only a position change.

Instead, I tell the dog that he or she has failed to cooperate and I am disappointed.

Here’s how I do it.

Suppose I ask for sit and the dog just looks at me. Instead of repeating the command, I turn and walk away. For the next 5-10 seconds, I ignore any attempts by the dog to get my attention. After this brief time out, I turn and face the dog and ask again. The dog quickly learns that I only ask one time!

Happy Training!

Alan J Turner – Companion Animal Behavior Counselor & Trainer, Canine Specialization

How’s Bentley – Private and Group Dog Obedience

Memphis, Collierville, Bartlett, Cordova, Germantown, Arlington, Jackson, Olive Branch,Oxford, MS, TN



Neutrality, Patience, Observation, Adjustments – the Keys to Successful Dog Training

ATNeutralI am just like you. I want my dog to perform well.

But, I am neutral to success or failures when training an animal. What I mean is, during training sessions, I don’t care if the dog obeys, or does not obey.

It’s okay if the dog performs as asked. It’s okay if the dog does not perform.

If the dog obeys, great! I know that with this dog at this point in time, in this context, my current training plan, methods and strategies are effective.

If the dog does not obey, great! I know that with this dog, at this point in time, in this context, my current training plan, methods and strategies are ineffective. Now I know what does not work and I’ll make adjustments and try again.

Emotions interefere with thinking. One must separate the two in order to be an excellent animal trainer. If I become emotional, frustrated, it clouds my ability to think, observe and adjust.

Voluntary behaviors are like common stock. There are 3 possible “directions”. Over time, a behavior can increase (in frequency of occurances and magnitude), decrease or remain the same.

Observe, analyize, adjust.
All good trainers log instances of the target behavior and record the frequency of the behavior over time. Then we make adjustments until the frequency of the behavior is as desired.

If the behavior is increasing or maintaining the same frequency today as yesterday, I know that something in the environment is triggering the behavior. I know the immediate consequence is a reinforcer.

If the behavior is decreasing in frequency (occurs kess today than yesterday), I know that something in the environment is distracting the dog or triggering another behavior, and/or I know the immediate consequence is a punisher.

If you want to modify a behavior (increase or decrease the frequency), you will make adjustments in the environment before the behavior, and make adjustments in the consequences during or immediately after the behavior.

If the behavior is unwanted, naughty behavior, you should ask youself exactly what do you want the dog TO do and where should she do it? This is the alternate behavior. Identify all the components and teach and practice the alternate behavior.

For instance, let’s discuss “dog jumps up on guests” behavior. The behavior is strong and occurs as often today as it did yesterday.

Your first step is to prevent the dog from practicing this rude greeting.

Identify the triggers in the environment. Dog is untrained, in the same area as guests, and is not restrained. Change any one of these three triggers and the behavior will be reduced in frequency.

Identify the immediate consequences. Guests probably touch or praise the dog, or reach out with their hands and
push. You may be grabbing the dog’s collar and / or saying “off”. All of these immediate consequences are not helpful, because the behavior is strong.

If your response is anger or frustration, you are off track, and will have a difficult time fixing the problem.

The solution for “jumping up on guests” behavior:
Prevent the behavior by attaching a leash before guests enter your home. Set aside time to train your dog, when you can control the distractions. Teach and practice an alternate behavior such as go-to-place, sit, spin, “parade with toy”.

Most importantly, be neutral so you can observe, think, adjust and succeed!

Happy Training!

How to Teach your Dog to Drop or Give

Australia Terrier Bentley
Australian Terrier Bentley

Description:

The dog releases an item from his or her mouth.

Function:

Final step in “Fetch”, or anytime you want the dog to release an item from his or her mouth. When teaching fetch, teach give or drop first, and the other steps like carrying the ball and finding the ball will naturally fall into place.

Before you begin training your dog, you’ll need to learn a bit about communication and motivation. Please visit the Dog Training Start Here Category. There you will learn about markers and rewards, two excellent topics for communicating and motivating! A prerequisite for “stay” is “Attention on Cue”. It doesn’t hurt if your dog already knows “Sit” too!

Considerations / Prerequisites:

Where do you want to dog to place the item? –  on the floor, on the table, in your lap, in your hand, in a basket, in another’s hand, in another room?  Do you want to dog to sit or lie down before the drop?

Some dogs quit “holding” items after 2 or 3 trials. You may need to teach “Hold”, “Sit”, “Place”, Down”, “Leave-It”, or, try again later.

The balance between the value of the item and the value of the treat is important.  If your dog is not dropping the item before you open your fist by trial 5, reconsider your item and treat choices. Begin practicing with a tennis ball or other fetch toy and use high value treats. When your dog “catches on”, use other items that do not belong to the dog and lesser value treats!

Your task is to mark (or click) the instant the dog releases the item. When following the instructions, be ready to click regardless of where in the sequence the dog releases the item. Many dogs will release before you finish the sequence of steps.

These instructions are a sort of guide. You can adapt the instructions to fit you and your dog. You may not need all the steps. The goal of this post is to teach a concept. The general concept is:

  1. Get the Behavior to Occur
  2. Mark the Instant it Occurs
  3. Deliver some sort of reward


Visual Cue: Handler holds his or her right fist directly in front of right shoulder.

Audible Cue: Handler speaks, “Drop” or “Give”.

Teach Drop

Trial 1:

  • Say “Drop”, pause 1 second.
  • Present fist with treat (visual cue), pause 1 second.
  • Push your fist forward (palm down) until your fist is directly in front of the dog’s nose, pause 1 second.
  • Rotate your fist until it is palm up, pause 1 second.
  • Open fist to reveal treat. Mark the instant the dog releases the item. Give treat.
  • Pick up item and give it back to the dog.

Trial 2:

  • Say “Drop”, pause 2 seconds.
  • Present fist with treat (visual cue), pause 2 seconds.
  • Push your fist forward (palm down) until your fist is directly in front of the dog’s nose, pause 2 seconds.
  • Rotate your fist until it is palm up, pause 2 seconds.
  • Open fist to reveal treat. Mark the instant the dog releases the item. Give treat.
  • Pick up item and give it back to the dog.

Trial 3:

  • Say “Drop”, pause 3 seconds.
  • Present fist with treat (visual cue), pause 3 seconds.
  • Push your fist forward (palm down) until your fist is directly in front of the dog’s nose, pause 3 seconds.
  • Rotate your fist until it is palm up, pause 3 seconds.
  • Open fist to reveal treat. Mark the instant the dog releases the item. Give treat.
  • Pick up item and give it back to the dog.

Trial 4 -xx:

Follow the same sequence, but omit the treat in your fist on trials 4 and above.  Add 1 second to the sequence of pauses.  Most dogs learn this very quickly, and will drop when you say “drop” within 2-3 trials. That’s okay if your dog doesn’t, just add 1 second every new trial. For example, if you make it to Trial 7, you will have 7 second pauses in the trial.

Once your dog learns to Drop or Give on command, practice with items and toys of all shapes and sizes. You can discontinue the marker and food treat reward. The reward is you throwing the ball again!
Happy Training
Alan J Turner – How’s Bentley Memphis
Private Dog Trainer, Group Dog Obedience in Collierville and Downtown Memphis

Does Your Dog Get too Excited to Attach a Leash? Teach Leash Time!

JavaLeash

The goal of this exercise is to teach a dog to sit patiently while you attach a leash. This is for dogs that like to have the leash attached, but are so excited that it’s difficult to snap on a leash. If your dog is shy or afraid of the leash, visit this page.

Most dogs become very excited at the sight of a leash. Dogs bark, jump and wiggle which makes it very difficult for us to attach our leashes. Some young dogs bite and mouth while we try and attach the leash. With theses guys, I usually place a chew toy in their mouth before I attach the leash.

There are several different approaches we can use to solve this problem. Here’s one that’s easy to follow and effective!

It helps to understand why your dog gets excited. The reason dogs become excited when they see the leash is because the leash predicts an outing. Therefore, if the leash does not predict an outing, the dogs will not become excited at the sight of the leash.

Step 1)

Get your leash. Do not speak to your dog. Hold the leash land walk around the house for a few minutes. Put the leash away. Repeat this sequence several times within a few hours. Repeat (several days if necessary) until your dog is not excited by the sight of you carrying the leash and then perform S tep 2.

Step 2)

Get your leash. Do not speak to your dog. Hold the leash for a few minutes. Tell your dog “leash time” and then attach it to your dog’s collar. Hand you dog a food treat. Drop the leash and let your dog drag it around the house.

After several minutes, tell your dog “leash time” and remove the leash. Hand your dog a food treat. Repeat many times within a few hours.

Step 3)

If your dog fails to sit during this step, just walk away with the leash in hand and try again later. If your dog fails again, go back to Step 1 and start over.

Get your leash. Tell your dog “leash time” and then immediately tell your dog “sit”.  Praise your dog for the sit; attach the leash, and then give your dog a food treat. Let your dog drag the leash around the house for several minutes.

Tell your dog “leash time”; “sit”. Praise your dog for the sit and remove the leash. Give your dog a food treat. Repeat many times within a few hours.

After several of these sequences, your dog will know exactly what to do when you say “leash time, sit”! You can discontinue the food treat once your dog is reliable. Of course, if you have a treat handy, why not reward your dog for sitting politely?

When you are going to take your dog on an outing, tell him or her before you get the leash. Say something like “Let’s go out” and then say “leash time, sit”.

Happy Training!

Alan J Turner
Companion Animal Behavior Counselor and Trainer
Private Sessions for Aggressive, Fearful Dogs
How’s Bentley- Memphis, Collierville, Germantown, TN


Dog Training is a Process, Not an Event

bentleypupRaising a puppy and training a dog is a process, not an event. It’s not much different than raising a child (except in 3 years your puppy will be an adult dog). Suppose you hire me to come to your house and teach your child to be polite. I can tell the kid which words to use ,what they mean, and when to use them. That teaching session is an event. But later, I will not be with your child to praise her for polite gestures, or to remind her to be polite. That is a continual process.

I have potential clients who would pay me whatever to come to their homes and train their dogs. I would gladly accept these lucrative offers if I believed the dogs would be responsive to them afterwards. Some dogs will obey without a lot of practice. But these are rarely the dogs that prompt people to seek out a trainer.

Don’t get me wrong, I can teach your chocolate labrador retriever commands for sit, down,come, stay, go-to-place, leave-it, et cetera much quicker than their owners. Initially teaching dogs to obey without distractions is the easy part. Those initial lessons are events.

Your dog is always learning, even when you are not holding practice sessions. Every interaction throughout the day teaches your puppy or dog something. If you are unaware of how your responses throughout the day shape your dog’s behavior, no amount of event training by me will override your daily mistakes.

Dogs learn by repetition. Practicing while adding distractions, in very controlled training sessions, and working with the dogs, every day, in real life situations, is a time consuming process.

If you want to begin a training program for your dog, please visit the START HERE category.

Happy Training!

Alan J Turner – Companion Animal Behavior Counselor & Trainer, Canine Specialization

How’s Bentley – Private and Group Dog Obedience

Memphis, Collierville, Bartlett, Cordova, Germantown TN

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Pet Dogs for Protection Dogs?

OdenGSDOn How’s Bentley Private Services Enrollment Form, the box labeled “For Protection” is often selected as one of the reasons my clients acquire their pet dogs. I understand why people select a pet dog for a protection role.

I have worked with more German Shepherd Dogs in the past year than the previous 3 years. I believe the current political and social cultures are responsible for people choosing dogs like German Shepherd Dogs, Doberman Pinchers, and other guarding dogs with “vicious” labeling. We are more fearful as a country than we were 15 years ago. That is reflected by the breeds of dogs that we choose. OOPs, this is off topic. I’ll talk about dog breed selection trends in the suburbs of Tennessee at another time.

Many people expect their dogs to be natural protectors and body guards. Too bad it’s not that simple.

It’s not that dogs won’t protect. Some dogs will naturally growl, snarl, bark, snap and bite when anyone approaches.

That’s the problem. Some dogs protect us from everyone. Dogs growl, snarl, snap and bite family members, house mates, friends, children, neighbors, cable guys, even pizza delivery couriers. That’s just rude. I need my pizza. Please Killer, spare the Domino Pizza guy.

Our pet dogs are not any better at determining who is a threat than the average Joe. We have these opposable thumbs and large brains, yet very few of us can determine which people in a busy suburban mall parking lot are about to attack us. Our untrained dogs have a solution. Bite them all and let the alpha dog sort them out!?

YIKES! The point is, you must take time to obedience train your dog before you can have a dependable protection dog. The last thing you want is a dog that decides every stranger is a threat and acts without your input!

True personal protection dogs are very well trained in all aspects of basic and advanced obedience and many participate in Schutzhund, a dog sport that originated in Germany. True protection dogs will stop attacking when their handlers command them to disengage.

Before you select a breed of dog genetically bred for natural, protective tendencies, talk with a trainer who can help you teach the dog basic obedience. For if you have a pet dog that is aggressive towards everyone, and will not stop when you call, you do not have a protection dog. You have a liability.

Happy Training!

Alan J Turner
Companion Animal Behavior Counselor and Trainer
Private Sessions to Help Aggressive and Fearful Dogs
How’s Bentley- Memphis, Collierville, Germantown, TN

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Interrupters: Squirt Bottles, Newspaper Swats, Shake Cans – Are They Effective for Changing Dogs’ Rude Behaviors?

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Interrupters are corrections people use to momentarily stop their dogs’ behaviors. Examples of potential interrupters are shouting “no”, squirting with a water bottle, shaking a can with pennies, tossing keys on the floor, swatting with a newspaper, or holding a pup’s muzzle closed.

Interrupters can stop a behavior for the moment. Great, sometimes we need to stop a dog or puppy from misbehaving! Unfortunately, interrupters do not necessarily decrease the likelihood of the behavior reoccurring in the future.

Interrupters decrease behaviors for the moment and can be very useful short-term tools when we are unprepared. Interrupters do not efficiently modify behavior over the long term.

Many of my clients with serious problems unknowingly intensify the problems via the improper use of interrupters.

If you answer “YES” to any of the following questions it is very likely that you are using interrupters inefficiently and/or your methods of communicating and teaching are flawed.

  • Have you used the interrupter on many occasions to stop the same behavior(s)?
  • Is the behavior occurring as often today as it was yesterday?
  • Will the dog cower at the sight of the interrupter, even though he or she is not misbehaving?
  • Does the interrupter need to be visible, or held in your hand, before the dog will comply with your wishes?
  • Are you constantly carrying the interrupter with you, or purposely placing the interrupter within easy reach?

Using constant interrupters as teaching tools has unwanted side effects, the least of which is a confused, distrustful dog. In addition, interrupters do not teach the dog which behaviors you do want.

Interrupt – Redirect – Pay

You can use interrupters effectively if you complete the thought and tell your dog what is acceptable. Interrupt –> redirect –> pay is the most efficient use of interrupters.

Anytime you say “no”, ask yourself these two questions. What exactly would I like my dog to do at this moment and exactly where would I like him to do it?  Once you have these answers, you’ve just identified your redirect behaviors and your next training goal. Teach your dog to perform the redirect behaviors in that specific context. Do this when you have complete control of the environment.

For instance, suppose your dog jumps up on the dishwasher door and licks dishes when you are loading your dishwasher. Ok, you’ve defined the problem, now decide on a solution.

What exactly would you like your dog to do when you load the dishwasher? Where would you like him to do it?

You’ve decided that you’d like your dog to lie on the kitchen area-rug when you load the dishwasher. Here’s a summary of your training plan. Variations of this exercise can be used to address other problems such as bolting out open doors and stealing food from counters.

Remember, you can’t teach your dog when life is calling the shots! Set aside some time and teach your dog this specific skill.

First, teach your dog “Go to Place (place is the rug)”.

Gradually increase the time he must stay on the rug before you pay him.

Add the distractions of the dish loading process – one step at a time. Have him stay while you bend down and touch the handle, while you operate the door handle, while you open and close the door, while you place a dish inside, et cetera.

After a few short sessions, your dog will know exactly what to do, when you load dishes, and he will know exactly where to do it!

The next time your dog jumps up on the dishwasher door, tell him “no”, immediately cue him to Go to Rug, then release and pay him – after you are through with your task.

Better yet; before you begin to clean up, tell your dog to “Go to rug”. Don’t forget to pay him after you are finished cleaning up!

Happy Training!

Alan J Turner – Companion Animal Behavior Counselor & Trainer, Canine Specialization

Private and Group Dog Behavior and Training Services

Memphis, TN

How’s Bentley

FREE – Dog Won’t Come? Teach Your Dog to Come Bump Your Target

criscojailPlease read Start Here AA-1 through AA-5 before you teach your dog to target.

Crisco, the turbo Jack Russell Terrier in the picture, will almost always come when called. Crisco has been very well trained by her owner via the use of targets!

Here are some thoughts about targets introduced to me by Kayce Cover, B.S., M.A.

Targets give the dog critical information about where success will take place. Examples of targets are a simple wooden dowel with a piece of tape on one end for contrast, your hand, extended fingers, or other items such as a business card, ink pen, plastic lid from small food container, piece of tape on the wall, dot of light from a laser pointer, etc.. You can purchase a target stick from pet supply stores.

Many trainers use targets to teach service dogs how to operate light switches, press doorbells, open doors, pick up items, et cetera. The dog is taught to go to the target, bump the target with his nose (or any other body part) maintain contact with the target, sit / lay on the target, pick up the item touching the target, or any number of behaviors, depending on the type of target and the application.

The use of target(s) is an excellent method to teach motion behaviors or to teach the dog where a behavior should occur.

Simple applications for target sticks are teaching a dog to spin and to heel.

Target Touch

Here’s how to teach your dog to bump a two finger target. To form a two-finger target, extend your index and middle fingers and tuck your ring finger and little finger into your palm with your thumb.

You will present the two-finger target on a plane, horizontal to the floor, as if you are pointing to someone next to you. The dog will touch the outside or knuckle side of the target.

Say “Touch” and immediately position the end of the target one inch from your dog’s nose. He will sniff it.  Do not move your target to touch his nose. He should come to you!

Mark the instant (with your conditioned marker) he touches your two finger target with his nose and immediately withdraw your target. Deliver a reward. Repeat three times, but place the target a bit farther away and to the left or right of your dog’s nose on trials 2 and 3. Now you can use the two-finger, nose target, to guide your dog into position.

Target Here – Foster a Partnership

The “touch” exercise is much more than a simple command. It is a very clear method to tell your dog what you’d like him to do and exactly where success will take place. It is a powerful tool for building an attitude of cooperation, a partnership.

The target provides a visual focal point, a precise point in space, where a behavior is to take place.

Using a target is one method to recall your dog. To use it for a come command, do this. Instead of saying “touch”, say “here” and then present your two finger target a few inches from your dog’s nose. Practice “here” at various distances in very short sessions. I usually practice this command 3-5 times during a short practice session.

I view “here” as a tool for nurturing a senior – junior partnership with Bentley. When I ask him to target, I’m really holding a two way conversation about cooperation.

I’m asking Bentley – “Hey Bent, I’d like you to come over here and bump my target with your nose. Do you understand what I want you to do? Do you understand where success will take place? Do you understand that I will pay you for your cooperation? Are you willing to cooperate? “

Bentley races over to bump my target. He’s replying, “Hey Alan, I know what you want me to do. I know where success will take place. I know you’re going to pay me. I’m willing to cooperate.”

Troubleshooting Target Here

Teaching your dog to touch your two finger target can be frustrating! Sometimes the dog will bite your fingers, or just quit targeting altogether.

If your dog is biting your target, check for these common errors. Review your timing and target placement. You should mark the instant he touches the target, not one second afterwards. Are you withdrawing your target immediately after you mark the instant he touches it? If you leave your target in place after the marker, your dog may mouth or bite the target. It’s best to remove your target immediately after you mark the touch.

If your dog sometimes ignores the target, review the placement of the target. Position the target nose height or lower.   The target should be horizontal to the floor (as if you are pointing to something next to you).

What are your actions after he bumps the target? Are you moving the target towards the dog (thus bumping him right before he reaches the target)? Do you end his fun or mark the instant and give a reward?

Some dogs lose interest if you repeat the exercise more than 2-3 times during a short session.

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Happy Training!

Alan J Turner – Companion Animal Behavior Counselor & Trainer, Canine Specialization
Private and Group Dog Obedience Training
Member: APDT