Dog Training and Choices
Training a dog is easy…when you make it FUN and by using choices!
I love training! I love training most when Cruz is doing what he loves. Agility or herding.
Being a border collie his mind and body is working all the time. We have to use an “off switch” word to settle him down or to let him know we are finished. We chose the work “all done”. It works. He immediately takes a deep sigh and lays down. Literally he could run all day so it is important for his health and our sanity to have this off switch.
When I train on the obstacle course with him, we use a toy for his motivation. I am not keen on treat rewards in dog training and especially with this black and white cutie. Cruz is motivated by play so play he gets!
I begin by training him to stand in the box. If he moves out of the box before I say “ready”, I direct him back to the box, make him sit, and again we try. No punishment or “NO”, just simply show him what I want and his reward is the toy for sitting in the box. He is smart and learns very quickly, but some days this alone may take a few more times. He must look at me, wait in the box and I will give him a toy when he sits well. Once he has that down, we move to first obstacle.
We first work on the weave course. If he does it right I throw his toy. He fetches it and we start again in the box. We do this about 2-3 times all with no bumps or misses. Then I add another obstacle. Usually the jump. Again we do 2-3 times. Box, weave, jump. If he does it with no mistakes, I throw his toy and we play.
The last obstacle is the tunnel. Which he LOVES! Cruz will often just run it just to do it. So it was easy to train him by just saying, “tunnel” and no prob…through the tube he went like a flash!
Training is really about understanding the personality of your dog and what he or she loves. If they are motivated by treats, break them up small so you have plenty. If they love play use a toy.
Also training is about giving choices. When they choose the right thing, that is what you want, there is a reward like treat of toy. If they choose their own way, which is not what you want you redirect to the place where the right choice is. Waiting for them to make that choice is hard. They may take awhile doing lots of wrong choices, but hang in there until they make the right one and reward quickly.
NOW, obedience training is a whole new thing. I don’t use treats or toys. This is a time for walking at my side, coming when called, laying down for period of time, and moving out and laying down. The only reward is my voice. You know why?
Because in a crisis your voice is all you will have! You may not have a toy or treat when your dog is chasing a squirrel and heading toward a car. Or you may not have a toy or treat when the UPS man comes and he/she needs to stay. Dogs love your voice of praise just as much as the other rewards and it is important to use it.
I have trained many dogs in my lifetime and find the voice and a warm friendly hand is the sign of true love between friends. Our training time has different pictures for the needs they are to meet. A well trained dog, walks at your side without pulling ahead (leads to many problems) or lagging behind. A dog that is secure stops a bad behavior when told, ONCE. You will have a happier dog and family when your 4 legged friend has boundaries.
Enjoy your training and if you need advice, I am happy to help.