Teach your Dog Inside Voice – Capture Dog’s Natural Behavior and Place it on Cue

Big_MacOne of the neat things about using an instant reward marker is how you can capture a natural behavior and then teach your dog to do it on cue.
Here’s a recent email exchange with my client, Elizabeth, who has a 4-5 month old large mix breed dog, Big Mac.

BETH’S EMAIL:
Well, I taught him….Inside voice….and he acts like he is going to bark but doesn’t make a sound……Now he just sits and looks at me and gives me inside voice!!!!  This is fun……Thanks!

OK….I have created a monster!!!!!  This new trick he learned for inside voice…..HE WON’T STOP!!!!  He just sits there an looks at me and keeps doing it…..I keep praising him and I sometimes give him a treat….but ok…what do you do when he has it down right?????

MY REPLY:
Hi Beth,

I’m glad to hear you are teaching Mac new stuff!!!!

Please tell me, in detail:

How did you teach him? Did you mark the behavior with your instant reward marker when he used the inside voice (IV)?
Did you tell him anything about outside voice?
Did you say anything?

Now- do you ask Mac for inside voice? If so, how?

Your next step is to place the behavior “on cue”, which means he only does it when you ask.

Answer my questions and I’ll tell you how.

BETH REPLY:
How did you teach him? Did you use the “X” when he used the inside voice (IV)? Yes….I caught him doing it once and said X and gave him a treat.  Did that a couple of times  I caught him again said X and inside voice and again gave him a treat….  Then I just said inside voice and he started doing it….Now I don’t say anything and he keeps looking at me doing it….This is where I don’t know what to do…..I don’t want to discourage him

Did you tell him anything about outside voice? No I have not said anything about outside voice

Did you say anything? Yes inside voice

Now- do you ask Mac for inside voice? Yes If so, how? Now I put my index finger to my lips like SHHHH quiet and I say Inside voice……He’s got it down tooooo well.

Your next step is to place the behavior “on cue”, which means he only does it when you ask. Ok….Now how do I do that because right now he is sitting here looking at me doing it over and over and over……I praise him but he’s not looking for praise he wants a goodie!

MY EMAIL:
Hi Beth!

You are almost there. I’m so proud of my new student!

Exactly what do you want Mac to do, and under what conditions do you want the behavior to occur?

Exactly what do you want Mac to “not do” and when?

BETH REPLY:
Exactly what do you want Mac to do, and under what conditions do you want the behavior to occur?  Kinda like your tough guy thing with Bentley….it’s just something cute!  Do it on command……Mac….Show your inside voice!

Exactly what do you want Mac to “not do” and when?  I don’t want him just sitting at my feet doing it over and over again……I feel if I don’t acknowledge when he does he will get discouraged.

My EMAIL
Here’s what you do:
Step 1: Reinforce the behavior you want.
Step 2: Punish the behavior you don’t want.

Don’t add touch or his name or talk to him during this exercise.  Follow these instructions as written! 🙂

Step One:
Cue the behavior (shhh signal), X the behavior, give tasty food treat. Don’t talk or pet him. Repeat the same sequence 3 more times for a total of 4 cycles.

Step 2: Say nothing- no cue – no talk – no touch. Wait until he vocalizes. (DATA A:note how long it takes for him to vocalize). Immediately look away, turn your back on him for about 10 seconds. Do not speak or make eye contact during this time out.

Turn back towards him, say “Hi Mac”-
Repeat Steps 1 and 2 until DATA A equals 10-15 seconds.
When you do Step 2, he will probably bark louder and be more demanding. Perfect. That means he’s about to give up!
When he quiet for 10-15 seconds in Step 2, praise him! Add touch!!!

Alan J Turner – How’s Bentley – Memphis TN

Private and Group Dog Training – Memphis, Collierville, Germantown TN

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Troubleshooting: Capture Sit for Folded Arms

Black DogTruth is, most dogs default to sit when they reach the impasse, as presented during the ” capture sit for folded arms” exercise.

The leash is a tool to reduce your dog’s choices. Ideally, the dog will not feel any pressure from the leash, unless he or she jumps up. The short leash will abruptly stop the dog’s upward progress, and the dog’s attempts to jump up will fail. Most dogs stop trying to jump up, after a few of these failures.

Stepping on the leash, reduces vertical and horizontal territory. Standing upright, with arms folded, eliminates stimuli from you, the handler. The dogs only have a few choices of what to do with their bodies.

If your dog does not sit after a minute or so, consider the following points.

You can use your body language to help. To do this, lean towards your pup with your upper body or take a very small step towards the puppy. He will sit.

Immediately straighten your upper body (remove the spatial pressure you added by leaning forward) and immediately mark the instant his rump hits the floor. Give him a treat. Say nothing.

Is your dog looking at you? If not, go to a different area, a place with fewer distractions.  Are you stepping on the leash, so your dog cannot jump up or move away? If you are stepping on the leash, does the dog have enough slack in the leash to sit?

If you are still having problems getting your dog to sit for folded arms, discontinue the exercise and try again later.

Happy Training!

Alan J Turner –  Dog Trainer – How’s Bentley – Memphis TN

Private and Group Dog Training Services

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Easy & Lazy: Sit in a Chair & Teach Your Dog or Puppy to Lie Down!

LABCaptureOf all the methods to teach a dog to lie down, capturing is the easiest, but it is seldom used because people do not understand or believe it will be effective.

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Capture is when you set up the environment for the behavior to occur, or just wait for the dog to perform the behavior, then you mark and deliver a treat. You don’t say anything, or offer a food lure, or provide any other input before the dog performs the target behavior.

Another reason my clients are hesitant to try and capture the down is because most people are determined to insert the word “down” when first teaching the behavior.

Telling dogs “down” does nothing to help the dogs learn the behavior. If anything it sends the dogs misinformation, because most people repeat the word, as if the word will help the dog to lie down.

Once the dog learns the behavior, you can slip the cue or command into the sequence, immediately before the dog performs the behavior. You’ll teach the dog the behavior first, then you teach the dog a command for the behavior.

You will need to condition a reward marker to use the capture method. If you are not familiar with reward markers, or capturing behaviors, please visit this page to learn how to condition an instant reward marker, and capture sit for folded arms, BEFORE you capture down.

Dogs sit numerous times every day, therefore “capture sit for folded arms” is very easy and effective. The exercise is as much a teaching exercise for the handler as it is for the dog. The handler learns about timing and how to teach a dog without a food lure, and without offering any physical input. The dog learns that he or she “makes” the marker occur. Once a dog understands this concept, you are ready to capture other, less frequent behaviors.

Assuming you have conditioned a reward marker, here are the steps to capture down. Teach down when your puppy dog is more likely to lie down, such as late in the evening or after exercise.

I like to do this when I am seated and watching TV, because I am lazy. 🙂

With your dog in the same area as you, you watch and wait for the dog to lie down, you mark the instant the dog’s belly touches the floor. Then toss a food treat on the floor, in between your dog’s front legs. Do this several times during a 2 hour period.

Do not speak to or touch your dog before, or immediately after he or she lies down. The only relevant events are belly touch floor, sound of the marker, food treat.

It may take more than one session of capturing the down before your dog catches on.

You can add the verbal command after your dog learns the behavior. You’ll know when your dog has “got it”. He or she will come over to you and plop down. When you notice this, do not mark the belly touch, just look at your dog. If your dog looks at you with that “hey stoooopid, I did it, where’s the marker and treat?”, then you can speak the word down, before the dog lies down. Repeat a few times, but now say the word “down” before your dog lies down. There you have it!

Happy Training!
Alan J Turner – Companion Animal Behavior Counselor and Trainer, Canine Specialization
How’s Bentley – Memphis, Collierville, Germantown TN
21st Century Canine Relationship Solutions
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To Play . . or Not to Play. . . Will Tug of War Make My Puppy Aggressive?

Australian Terrier Puppy
Australian Terrier Puppy

Tug is defined “to pull hard” by Webster’s online dictionary. People play tug with their dogs by pulling on an item the dog is holding in his or her mouth. To win at tug, you take the item away from your dog.

Many of my clients ask me, “Is it okay to play tug with my puppy?” Good question. I know why you ask.

Tug of war is one of those controversial topics.  Some people believe it’s okay to play tug if the human always wins.  Other state. “playing tug will increase unwanted aggressive behaviors”.  These people tell others to avoid the game of tug with their dogs. I’m not sure why. I suspect these people promote concepts like alpha and dominance. The stronger animal is the boss and the weaker animal submits, right?

If you have visited a few pages on this site, you already know my thoughts on alpha.

I do not coach my clients to compete with their dogs for anything. I do not believe alpha comes into play between people and dogs. Click here to read my controversial article “Forget About Alpha”.

Okay, here are my thoughts on playing tug with puppies and dogs. The simple answer is, ‘it depends”. Tug can be a wonderful teaching game and reward for some dogs. Tug can be a dangerous game with some dogs, without some guidelines to keep it safe and fun.

If your dog exhibits aggressive behaviors, directed at you, then tug is probably not a good game for you and your dog! Young children should not play tug with a puppy who does not know the rules. Play biting kids is a puppy’s favorite pastime. Please click this link about play biting and kids if you have children in the house.

Here are some ideas on teaching puppies and dogs about tug.

You do not want to play tug with your socks, especially when still attached to your feet. To prevent tug games with the wrong items, purchase 1 or 2 tug toys. Once your puppy knows the rules you can play tug with whatever you wish. Tug toys are made for tug and have easy grip handles. Longer rope toys with handles or knots make for good tugging! Keep the tug toys away from your dog, unless you are playing tug. That means the toys should not be in his or her toy box, for them to play with and chew. These toys only come out when you want to play tug!
Here’s one of the best, rope tug toys.

Click the words
Tuff E Nuff Tug, Large
to visit Sit Stay and shop for tug toys.
TUFFENUFF.lg

Tuff E Nuff Tug, Large

It’s normal for puppies and dogs to growl and snarl when playing tug. Look for other body posturing that indicate your puppy is playing, not fighting. If your puppy’s butt is in the air and his or her front legs are on the ground, that’s a play bow. Your puppy wants to play!

When your puppy “accidently” makes teeth on skin contact (and he or she will) the game should end. Tell your puppy something like , “oops, you blew it”, and then walk away. If possible, take the toy away. Wait a minute or so, until your puppy is less excited, and then resume play.

Teach your puppy a signal that ends the game. I use “Game Over, then ask for the Drop.

Drop is useful for many games and situations. If your puppy does not know drop, give or trade, tug is a good game to use for teaching. Click this sentence for instructions on teaching your puppy to drop.

Use common sense about playing with your puppy. Puppies do not know how to play with humans. Avoid games that include rough play with your hands, tumbling or roughing up the puppy. This will send your puppy the wrong signals and increase play biting as well as other inappropriate play behaviors.

Happy Training!

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

How’s Bentley – Memphis, Collierville, Germantown TN

21st Century Canine Relationship Solutions

Group Dog Obedience Classes

Private Dog Training in Memphis TN

Reactive Dog Specialist

The Great Curtain Battle of 1999

Australian Terrier Puppy, BentleyI’ll be perfectly honest. I made all the same mistakes as anyone who every owned and raised a pup. I’ll never forget one of the many incidents when my newly adopted, turbo terrier, 10-week old pup, Bentley, was unsupervised for only a moment. In less than 10 seconds, he breeched a baby gate and enthusiastically bolted into the off-limits, living room.

He immediately attacked the most valuable ornament in the room, the curtains – the very curtains that my wife had so artfully created over a period of months, the very curtains that were so carefully displayed with cascades of expensive silk, the very delicate curtains that flowed from the ceiling and onto the floor into a calm pool of rich texture and colors.

I looked into the room. Bentley was engaged in battle, an incident that would eventually reach epic status and be referred to as The Great Curtain Battle of 1999.

Bentley had the ranks of the curtains pinned to the floor with his massive five-pound body. His head was raised and he was aggressively tugging the draperies in an all out effort to dismantle the entire arrangement! I could envision the rod swaying with each tug. Giving in to my excitement, the word NO loudly exited my lips.

Bentley stopped for about one second, looked my way, and re-engaged the enemy with increased vigor. Oh no, I thought, he accepted my input, not as a signal to disengage but as a challenge to escalate the fight! I moved closer, repeated my futile attempt with a very loud, low-toned NO. Again Bentley modified his attack. He added a curtain-intimidating, terrifying war growl to his assault!

I was standing over Bentley when I delivered my final protest, a very distinct, sub-woofer version of NO (bigger hammer?). At last, he ceased the assault. Bentley stopped tugging. Bentley lowered his previously-high-tilted tail. . . . .

Bentley lowered his previously-high-tilted head. . . . . .

Bentley lowered his previously-forward-tilted pricked ears. . . . . .

In one smooth, sad, motion, he lowered his whole body and urinated on the curtains under his feet.

Post-Battle Discussion

Ignorance is never shy. Ignorance often demands center-plate billing, garnished and displayed like filets of rainbow trout, with colorful spices on beds of multi-textured, wild rice. The Great Curtain Battle of 1999 represents one of the many instances when my delicious lack of knowledge about animal behavior and learning was presented, highlighted, glorified, and consumed by an animal that did not subscribe to popular, inaccurate, non-scientific, communication techniques.

It was that precise moment when I realized this little guy was sure to place all my ignorance about animal behavior and learning on naked display. This guy was different. Although NO seemed like an effective strategy with my previous dogs, it had failed miserably with Bentley. The urine-soaked silk and the fear that was displayed by his tiny trembling body transmitted my failures quite clearly.

It was obvious that my failure to manage the environment, my lack of preparedness, and my failure to communicate, had taken a toll on my relationship with this young, exuberant pup. . .   . To this day, I am still sorry that I momentarily transformed an exuberant, playful, young, happy, curious, adventurous, pup (a pup with too much freedom and not enough structure) into a fearful, distrusting, unhappy, and confused, urinating pup. . . . . . . (OK, ok,. . . . .  enough with the drama. . .  don’t feel badly for Bentley. . . . . . . . as always, Bentley recovered quite quickly!)

Let’s take a look at exactly what Bentley learned, didn’t learn, and what he might have learned if I handled the incident differently.

Remember, every behavior that is reinforced will be repeated. All the maneuvers of the battle (before the last few seconds when I unkindly crushed Bentley’s enthusiasm) were reinforced, because the immediate consequences of each step were appealing to Bentley. Each step he performed served to achieve his immediate goal. Yes, Bentley learned some valuable lessons, but unfortunately none of them were on my list of concepts and behaviors I wanted to teach.

Bentley learned:

  • it is a great strategy to be persistent when breaking through barriers
  • exciting new items and fun games are on the other sides of barriers
  • charging and battling the curtain were exciting and fun behaviors
  • his assumptions that I would partner with him in battle were incorrect
  • the curtain was a fierce and formidable opponent
  • my approach might be followed by a scary attack

Curtain battles raged for the next few months – apparently no form of punishment was an effective repellant for ‘must-topple-or-pee-on-curtain’ behaviors – and apparently my preventative tactics were flawed

  • the curtain became a permanent magnet for inside elimination because we couldn’t properly clean the silk fabric embedded with numerous dangling chords and beads
  • the curtain was finally retired after numerous battles and soiling had displaced its beauty

Bentley did not learn:

  • about respecting baby gates (quite the opposite!)
  • about ‘staying out’ of the living room (quite the opposite!)
  • about ‘not-battling’ the curtain (most definitely the opposite!)
  • that NO was a signal for him to stop

Was it a Timing Issue?

Maybe the timing of the NO was my major failure?

If I had delivered a protest during his first attempt to break through the baby gate, perhaps he would have learned that breeching barriers in my presence was an unsafe strategy? Hmmm…. not really on my list of target concepts or behaviors I’d like to teach. Can’t baby gates be used as barriers when people are absent? I wanted him to respect barriers in my absence, not only when I was present.

If I had delivered a protest the instant he was bolting into the living room, perhaps Bentley would have learned that bolting into living room was a dangerous strategy? Hmmm . . .  again, not really on my list of target concepts and behaviors I’d like to teach. I don’t want him to be afraid of traveling into the living room.

If I had delivered a protest the instant he grabbed the curtain, perhaps he would have learned that battling the curtain might cause me to attack him? That’s assuming he would have associated the NO with his behavior of grabbing the curtain, an unlikely assumption at best. He would be more likely to associate my approach and my presence with the NO. After all, my approach would be the most obvious event that immediately preceded the NO! Hmmm…. Not quite the relationship I intend to establish. I don’t want my dog to be afraid of my approach!

NO not effective?

It appears that NO was not an effective strategy, but a miserable failure for teaching Bentley anything useful during the Great Curtain Battle. So, what should I have done and how can I use NO effectively in the future?

I should have:

  • Managed the environment by preventing the battle altogether
  • Taken advantage of the initial Interrupt, the one-second pause after the first NO, to Redirect Bentley to perform another, more desirable, replacement behavior and then delivered Praise for complying with my Redirect.

NO can be an effective Interrupter or ‘First Step’ for teaching polite behaviors. Interrupt RedirectPraise is the most efficient context for NO.

The Truths of NO:

  • NO can be an effective interrupter in some situations.

  • More confident pups might translate our lower voice tones or louder volume of voice when we deliver NO as a playful challenge. It’s nothing more than a welcome invitation for confident pups to escalate their activities!

  • Less confident or shy pups become frightened when we bark out stern NOs. They might freeze, flee or urinate in fear. Personally I would never knowingly trade my enthusiastic, happy, curious, mischievous turbo terrier for a fearful, frozen, fleeing, or urinating pup!

  • Compliance with NO is dependent upon the pups’ personalities and the situations at hand. It depends on the volume and the tone of the word NO. It depends on the levels of cooperation we have previously developed with the pups.

  • Compliance with NO also depends on how motivated the pups are to complete their current undesirable activities. For example, NO might work well when your pup is snooping in your closet, a closet that he has investigated many times before. The same pup may ignore the NO if he just breeched a baby gate and is exploring a forbidden room. Those craft projects spread out on the floor are so stimulating and desirable that he doesn’t even seem to hear the word NO!

  • NO is an Interrupter. Used alone, NO is an incomplete sentence. NO is only one third of a valuable teaching sequence, InterruptRedirectPraise.

  • After delivering NO, we should immediately take advantage of the NO Interrupt and complete our sentence. The best teachers enthusiastically engage and Redirect their pups and dogs to perform an alternate, acceptable behavior.

  • The instant our animals start to comply with our Redirect request, we should deliver Praise, some sort of reward, thus increasing the replacement behavior via positive reinforcement.

  • To use this sequence, we should identify, teach and practice the Redirect behavior in many situations before we use it in real-time. We should take our dogs through each grade of performance! For instance, we should practice sit in mildly distracting situations before we practice sit when guests come into our homes or when kids are running.

Manage the Environment

On the day of the Great Curtain Battle of 1999, Bentley the 10 week-old puppy had lived with me for about six days. By day two, I realized this turbo puppy was likely to ‘explore-himself’ into trouble anytime he was unsupervised for a few seconds. Recognizing that it was only a matter of time before he conquered the gate, I should have attached a tether, a sort of umbilical cord. To use this prevention tool, get an 8-10 foot line and attach one end to your pup and the other end to your belt. A tether is a management tool, not a teaching tool.

Management Tools

Management tools are short-term, preventative measures. Think of them like diapers on a baby. We all know that babies will eliminate anytime, anywhere. We all know that it’s impossible to teach a 3-month old baby about potty training. We all know that the day will come when it is time to teach the child potty skills. So, until the time is right for teaching, we use a temporary management tool. We use diapers.

The same applies to our pups. It’s impossible to teach them everything they need to know in one or two days, or one or two months! We all know that pups and dogs will get into the trash, jump up on counters, urinate in homes, steal our clothes, tug the curtains, chew the furniture, jump up on guests, bolt out doors and gates, run into the streets, dig in the gardens, et cetera.

With all this ‘knowing’ going on, it’s amazing that 90% of most complaints about unruly canine behaviors would be non-existent if the people used short-term, preventative, management tools, like leashes, tethers, secured baby gates, and crates. None of these short-term tools teach our dogs, but, like diapers, they can serve a very useful purpose during periods when teaching cannot take place.

It’s tough to teach pups how to behave nicely when they are happily engaged and practicing unruly behaviors. If you haven’t yet taught your pup how to behave around guests and your dog is soon-to-be exposed to visitors, use the diapers! Attach a leash to prevent your dog from practicing mug-the-guests behaviors!

Help! My Dog Races Through Open Doors!

gypsyand1

Why wouldn’t a dog bolt through an open door? Because you teach him not to, that’s why! 🙂

Does your dog race through open doors and gates? Most people either pick up their dogs or hold the dog’s collar to prevent door bolting behaviors. Both of these actions “pay” the dog for trying to run through the door.

The ultimate pay is the chase and adventure of escape. Every time your dog escapes, and you chase him, you are increasing naughty behaviors!

Here is a simple exercise to teach your dog to wait patiently when people pass through doors and gates. The concept can be applied to other doors and gates after your dog perfects the skill at home.

Off leash obedience is an advanced skill, even when the dog is in a fenced area. Before you can expect your dog to obey when he or she is 50 feet away, first you should practice when the dog is on a short leash, then a long line.

Don’t let your dog be the last to know if he or she is invited to pass though the doorway and explore the neighborhood.

Teach Door!

Here’s how to teach your dog to wait while you pass through open doors or gates.

Prerequisite:

Time to perfection varies with the experience of the handler, the handler’s goals for distractions, and the experience of the dog.  A dog who has already perfected a few commands, and has not practiced escape behaviors can learn the general concept in one, 15 minute session.

Description: Teaches the dog to remain in one location when people enter and exit doorways.

Function: Default behavior when people open doors or gates

Before your dog learns this command, attach a leash and hold it so that your dog cannot practice bolting through doorways!

Like many training exercises, you’ll teach your dog in cycles. Each cycle introduces a bit more information and teaches your dog about distractions.

If, during any of these cycles of learning, your dog moves towards the door, communicate with actions, not words. Here’s what you should do if your dog moves towards the door.

A) Do not praise and treat.

B) At the first sign of failure, block the dog’s path with your body and body block or herd the dog back to the desired location. This teaches the dog that moving towards the door (when you say “door game”) is impossible.

C) Close the door (if applicable) and return your hand to your side. This teaches the dog that moving towards the door “makes” the door close.

D) Repeat the cycle, with a lesser distraction.

Step 4 of each cycle is when you increase the distraction.

Get creative with your distractions. Think of daily occurrences at the door, and magnify. Make your practice sessions “tougher” than real life.

For example, you may want to teach your dog to wait when you walk through the door backwards, dancing and singing a song!

Ideas for distractions:

marching in place;

reaching for the door;

touching the handle;

jiggling the handle;

turning the handle;

opening the door 3 inches and closing it;

opening the door 10 inches and closing it;

opening the door 2 feet and closing it;

taking 1 step towards the door;

taking 1 step away from the door;

walking into the door way;

walking through the door and back inside;

walking while carrying an interesting item;

items, people or animals on the “dog side” of the door;

items, people, or animals other side of the door;

people passing through the door

people passing through the door with items in their hand

Here are examples of how the initial 5 cycles might progress if the dog succeeds on each cycle. If the dog fails, back up a cycle or two and start again.

If you are working at an exit door without a fenced yard, attach a leash and hold the end of the leash during each cycle, or tether the end of the leash to something inside the house.

Notice the only difference between cycles is step 4.

Cycle 1

1) Say “Door” in an upbeat tone.

2) Push your hand outward towards your dog, palm facing the dog like a stop signal.

3) Wait 1 second and withdraw your “stop signal”.

4) Stand still for 3 seconds.

5) Deliver your reward marker.

6) Toss your dog a treat so that he moves from his current location to get the treat.

Cycle 2

1) Say “Door” in an upbeat tone.

2) Push your hand outward towards your dog, palm facing the dog like a stop signal.

3) Wait 1 second and withdraw your “stop signal”.

4) March in place for 3 seconds.

5) Deliver your reward marker.

6) Toss your dog a treat so that he moves from his current location to get the treat.

Cycle 3

1) Say “Door” in an upbeat tone.

2) Push your hand outward towards your dog, palm facing the dog like a stop signal.

3) Wait 1 second and withdraw your “stop signal”.

4) March in place and reach towards the door handle.

5) Deliver your reward marker.

6) Toss your dog a treat so that he moves from his current location to get the treat.

Cycle 4

1) Say “Door” in an upbeat tone.

2) Push your hand outward towards your dog, palm facing the dog like a stop signal.

3) Wait 1 second and withdraw your “stop signal”.

4) March in place and reach towards the door handle, jiggle the handle.

5) Deliver your reward marker.

6) Toss your dog a treat so that he moves from his current location to get the treat.

Cycle 5

1) Say “Door” in an upbeat tone.

2) Push your hand outward towards your dog, palm facing the dog like a stop signal.

3) Wait 1 second and withdraw your “stop signal”.

4) March in place and reach towards the door handle, jiggle the handle, open door 3 inches and then close the door.

5) Deliver your reward marker.

6) Toss your dog a treat so that he moves from his current location to get the treat.

Introduce more distractions during additional cycles. After each cycle give your dog a short tension rest. Deliver food treats, or verbal praise, quick game of tug, toss a ball, etc.

Once your dog is patiently waiting when the door is wide open, and you are walking in and out the door; enlist friends and family members to knock on your door. Once he perfect the ‘Door” command, you can add another cue. My favorite is a hand signal, a sort of back away motion with my hand, as my back is turned towards the dog.

Happy Training!

AT

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

Private and Group Dog Training in Memphis, TN

Owner: How’s Bentley

Member: APDT

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

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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 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



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