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Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)

Just compiling some training notes into a big thread as a read them from the book. It's been nice refreshing myself every once in a while & could be of use to some new members (More to come):

NOTE: The book is "Purely Positive Training" but I DO USE CORRECTIONS but I still think it has good advice for all.

The 10 Commandments:

1. Be Proactive
You must be proactive instead of reactive.
“Good trainers fix problems. Great trainers never get to the problems.”
The 1st thing about being proactive is to prevent unwanted behavior from happening in the first place.
When you allow your dog to rehearse unwanted behavior over & over puts you in the position of having to fix the problem.
Example: If you know your puppy is going to jump up on someone, then we want to get in there BEFORE the puppy has a chance to jump.
We want to do 3 things with unwanted behavior:
Prevent it!
Ignore it!
Or teach the puppy another behavior that he can’t do at the same time as the unwanted behavior!
To be proactive, teach the puppy a positive way to greet people, BEFORE he jumps on them.
You must get in there & teach the puppy the positive behavior, so we don’t have to deal with the negative behavior.
Doing this, means we NEVER get to the problem! This means the puppy will never learn the problem behavior!

2. Keep Them Trying
Working hard comes naturally to dogs.
Sometimes we must reward the dog’s effort, even if it’s wrong.
Rewarding your dogs effort keeps him trying & accelerates learning.
So if your dog gets frustrated or confused, sometimes we let the dog know that he’s doing fine & that you still support him.
Reward your dog’s effort. Keep your dog trying & eventually he’ll get it right.
Even if the dog does something wrong, we urge him to try again.
We don’t just want a dog to behave a certain way, but we also want your dog to want to learn how to behave. And we want your dog to enjoy doing the behavior.
You do this by positively reinforcing all the dog’s behavior that we want/like.
This means we positively reinforce even the beginnings of a particular behavior - any step in the right direction.

3. Forgive Forgetting
You need to always remember that ‘forgetting’ is part of learning.
When you are teaching your dog a new task, ‘forgetting’ is just part of the process.
In dog training, mistakes are simply learning opportunities.
Be there to help your dog - encourage him & coach him. Remember, you both are on the same team.

4. Follow The ABCs (***IMPORTANT***)
Learning follows a specific pattern known as A-B-C.
A = Antecedent
B = Behavior
C = Consequence
Any change or missteps in the A-B-C order will inhibit, or prevent learning.
Antecedent: this means the “cue”, which is the signal that tells the dog which behavior you want.
Example: Pick up & jangle your car keys & watch your dog’s reaction.
Example: Bang some pots & pans together & watch your dog’s response.
You must apply reliable cues to the behaviors you want to teach your dog.
The important rule here is that ‘Consequence’ drives your dog’s behavior.
What happens as a ‘Consequence’ determines whether your dog continues or repeats that Behavior.
Providing the right ‘Consequence’ can improve the frequency, intensity or duration of any behavior.
Once your dog grasps the concept of using his behavior to get what he wants, you can teach him to do just about anything he can master physically.
Once your dog understands the rules, he learns faster & faster, & adds new behaviors more quickly. The more he learns, the more he wants to learn, & thus the easier the dog is to teach.

5. Use Approximations
When we use the ABCs to shape behavior, we teach through approximations. That’s the scientific word for steps.
Training Through Approximation: this means that we start at the beginning, with the very first step.
We get your dog to make the first attempt at the ultimate/final behavior we want.
We reinforce that, & then the next step, & so on, right up the ladder of approximations.
normally , the very 1st approximation to teach your dog is “topography”, this means the physical aspect of the behavior you want your dog to learn. It can also be thought of as “technique”.
So the 1st step up the approximation ladder is to get the dog to do what we want physically. The dog often does this BEFORE he even really understands what he’s doing, & before the dog recognizes the cue.
A good way to measure your dog’s learning is by measuring his improvement in topography.
You can improve your dog’s topography or technique through repetition.
As your dog repeats a specific behavior, his performance gets “simpler, smoother, more efficient, & less variable.”
Improving your dog’s topography or technique takes practice to master the technique of this new behavior.
We always need to work with the dog at his level to be a fair teacher - to recognize his abilities without making excuses.
Once the dog has grasped the concept of the behavior we want, & he is developing technique, then we start to climb the ladder of approximations. To do this, we raise criteria & raise rewards.
This means we ask the dog to perform the behavior a little faster, or more intensely, or more completely. And when the dog does it, we give him something he really likes.
If we run into any stumbling blocks along the training path, wew back up a step or two & get the foundation right before moving on.
The foundation steps must be built on something really solid or the entire structure is going to collapse.
Build on each of your dog’s successes & keep the dog trying.
If you & your dog encounter an issue or a problem, stop digging, make sure you go back & get the previous step right. Then, next time, make sure you set your dog up for success.
It is ALWAYS our fault if the dog is making a mistake in something we trained - or think we trained.

6. Shift Context Early
Shifting context basically means to change part of the training picture, like the location.
As soon as your dog starts to understand what you want, you then begin to change 3 things:
1. First, you put a little more emphasis on your dog understanding the cue for the specific behavior. You need to make the cue clearer as you slowly move away from other lures or prompts.
2. Second, you need to shift context. Something as simple as changing location helps the dog to clarify the cue & generalize his learning.
3. Third, we begin to vary the schedule of reinforcement.

7. Premack It
The premack principle stands for access to desired behavior.
This simply means that the dog learns to perform a certain behavior, one that you want him to do, to gain access to what he wants to do.
You want your dog to learn that all heaven & good things come through you.
Example: Say your dog wants to go outside in the yard. You have already taught him to sit. You put your hand on the doorknob & give him the cue. As soon as the dog sits, you open the door. This means you have just used the Premack Principle.
Your dog gets to do what he wanted as soon as he does what you want.
The Premack Principle is a powerful tool for training.

8. Let Them Learn
Once the dog grasps the concept that he can get what he wants through exhibiting the desired behavior, we know he’s going to try - & keep on trying.
It is our responsibility to help the dog & direct him the right way so he can learn.
All we can do is help the dog learn.
You are your dog’s coach. We set the dog up for success, & then we wait. Waiting is surely one of the most difficult parts of the training program.
We’re teaching a dog - a curious, intelligent critter - our best friend, who’s trying his best to get it right.

9. Do No Damage (***I use corrections & do NOT follow positive only***)
If you or your dog makes a mistake, there is no damage done.
“To err is human - to forgive is canine.”

10. Keep It Fun
Training your dog should be fun.
Dogs offer us their complete loyalty, & we need to acknowledge & respect that gift.
Training with your dog should improve communication, intensify the bond & enhance our relationship.

923 Posts
Discussion Starter #2
***PT.2 - Using "Words" When Training Your Dog***

The Words:
Right from the beginning, if we want words to become important to our dogs, we must first teach them this concept!
It is EASIER to train dogs with hand movements than words!

Every behavior your dog exhibits that you want to continue, or that you eventually want to put a cue on, put a word on it!

First we must teach the dog what the word means by associating it with the corresponding behavior! Only then can we use the word as a cue!

A lot of repetition is needed for the dog to learn a word cue!

Each word should have a specific meaning!

Use the same word consistently for the same behavior!

So if “Down” means ‘lie down’, it should NOT also mean to stop jumping up or to get off the sofa!
Remember/Realize: realize that it often takes the dog longer to learn the word for a behavior than it takes for him (the dog) to learn the behavior itself!

The word must be repeated over & over, in conjunction with the corresponding behavior, before the dog truly understands that word as the cue for that behavior!

The Goal: Eventually, we want the dog to respond to a cue the FIRST TIME. Your dog should come when called the first time, NOT the second or the third time!

It takes a number of repetitions of the word before the dog can understand its meaning & which behavior is required!

Main Problem: Often, the failure in training is that the handler simply has NOT repeated the word enough times in associated with the corresponding behavior! This means that the dog does NOT yet understand what the word means in every situation!

Remember: If the dog does NOT do something right, then in some way WE HAVE FAILED to teach it properly! (We must assume responsibility)

Conclusion: So until the dog demonstrates that he understands the word, over time & in a variety of different situations, we should NOT assume that the dog knows the word!

When we shift context, we usually see the dog struggle to offer the right response. This means the dog is still thinking & trying, so keep encouraging him!

Teaching vs. Learning:
Common problem: Many times what the handler thinks he is teaching is NOT what the dog is actually learning! What the dog has learned is NOT what the handler thought he has taught the dog!
The teaching just needs to be clearer & more complete!

8 out of 10:

Scientists acknowledge that a behavior is learned when the animal responds correctly to the cue 8 out of 10 times, in 10 sets of 10 - ONLY THEN can they move on to the next step!
If your dog is offering the right behavior, on cue, 8 out of 10 times, over several training sessions, then you can move on to the next approximation or consider that the dog has learned the cue for now!
If your dog is getting it right 80% of the time, then you can be scientifically happy & know that your dog has “learned” a certain behavior or cue you taught him!

Word vs. Signal: For a dog who needs to know lots of behaviors on cue, it is easier for the dog to learn signals than words!

Some cues are words & signals together, to make each cue clearer & more specific for the dog!

If you are teaching a signal for a cue, make the signal small, but with a clear movement!

The most important part of teaching your dog words is teaching the dog the concept that words mean something!

When we start training, or first job is to teach the concept that our words have meaning!

Once the dog grasps that concept, he starts to pay attention, listening for the words he knows. Now he wants to learn. That makes new words easy to teach!

IMPORTANT: Take the time to teach the concept. Build a solid foundation on a few words. Then future training is easier!

IMPORTANT: The most important aspect of teaching words to your dog is that the word gets associated with the behavior it is meant to cue!

Proper word association is VITAL to the learning process!

When To Start: We want to start saying the word as soon as possible, so the dog can start making the right association!

IMPORTANT: But be sure to say the word ONLY when the dog is doing precisely what you want that word to mean!

Example: So while the dog is sitting properly, keep repeating the word “Sit” to give him (the dog) the opportunity to make the proper association!

The more times he hears the word, the faster he can learn it!

Example: While the dog is lying down, repeat “Down” over & over, so he comes to associate that word with that behavior!

Example: Every time your dog makes eye contact, put a word on that behavior (like “Watch”), & repeat it again & again while he is looking at you! Which will give the dog time to make the proper word association!

Example: But if every time the dog barks, for any reason, he hears, “Speak! Good dog! Speak!” over & over then he just might start to make the association of barking with the word “speak”!

Warning: So be careful NOT to associate the word with the wrong behavior!

If your young dog is offering a lopsided puppy sit, & you eventually want to compete in obedience, then wait until he offers a tight, tucked sit BEFORE putting that word on it!

Remember: Word association works BEST if they are made WHILE the dog is displaying the behavior with which we want him to associate the word!

We need to focus on the desirable behavior & put a word on that! (That’s being proactive)

So resolve to be clear & concise & consistent in teaching your dog word association!

Once the dog gets the concept, & realizes your words are now meaningful in his life, you’ll love what he does next. He starts LISTENING!

Establish Criteria:
Once our god understands the word “Down” - it means to lie down where they are & to remain in place until released! We use this word for the long down exercise!

What Confuses a Dog: What confuses a dog is when the same word means one thing one time & another the next! The dog ends up in a gray area, with NO clear understanding!

Keep training black & white for the dog!

This means that EVERY TIME, the dog must offer the specific criteria for each behavior he has learned to be “rewarded” or “reinforced”! IT MUST BE THE SAME EVERY TIME!

If the dog does NOT do what you asked, then he does NOT get to go do what he wants! (you need to stick to this for everything & every time)

The Release Word/Cue: Eventually, the “release” word becomes a powerful positive reinforcement in itself!

Release Word/Cue: Your dog needs to learn the concept of holding a position, or continuing a behavior, until he is released by you!

Every behavior has a beginning & an end!

The cue starts the behavior & the release ends the behavior!

Choose your release word carefully & then use it CONSISTENTLY! It is a cue for freedom & play & fun & energy & reward!

You can teach your dog JUST ABOUT ANYTHING by following the ABCs: Antecedent - Behavior - Consequence!
Just put a word on the dog’s specific behavior & reinforce ONLY that specific behavior!

Just be sure to establish clear criteria for response to each word!

Example: For my dog’s walking with me off leash - “Heel” means a specific position at my left side with some attention!

Example: For my dog’s walking with me off leash - “With Me” means to walk with me, but they DON’T need to be close enough to be touched. For this behavior, I accept anything up to about 10 feet around me! This is more relaxed criteria that I have for the “Heel” command!

Example: For my dog’s walking with me off leash - “Too Far” means my dog has just stepped over the boundary of being too far away from me! When my dog hears this cue, he is given a slight shock on his e-collar & he must stop & wait for me to get closer!

Each word or phrase have different criteria!


We just need to teach the right word association & make sure we give clear cues!
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