Training Tips and Tricks
Yes, you can teach an old dog new tricks! The key to teaching any behavior is understanding your dog and being patient.
If you think teaching one dog to stay is impossible - check out this family! It can be done. Patience and working with each dog individually is the key to being successful. Kudos to Linda and Laurie and their family - Romeo, Reba, Rheno, Rhinstone, Roxie, Renegade, and Ripley.
Training Tip - Leadership
Dogs are pack animals. Setting limits on how you expect them to act is essential to having a well-adjusted dog. A true leader from the dog's perspective provides structure and established boundaries by controlling resources. Leadership is NOT about forcing a dog to obey. The following are some guidelines on how to be a respected and fair leader:
Nothing in life is free. Make sure you give your dog a job. Teach him to sit for dinner, wait to go out the door, etc.
Humans go through doors and up and down stairs first. Teach your dog to sit/stay at doorways and wait to be released through the door.
- Do not repeat a cue more than once. If your dog does not respond on the first try, help her understand what you are asking for and help guide her into position. Step back in the training process and determine why your dog is having trouble (too many distractions, not enough shaping before adding the cue, etc.)
- Ignore a dog that nudges you for attention or pushes toys at you. This is not cute behavior - it is pushy behavior. Leaders give attention on their own terms, not when the dog demands it.
- Provide consequences. Ignore behavior you do not like. Avoid yelling, scolding, or even speaking to the dog when he is doing something you do not like. Any attention can be viewed as reinforcement by the dog. Reward positive behaviors and you will see them more often!
Trick - Spin (wipe your feet)
Spin involves teaching your dog to turn in a complete circle. It can be used simply as a fun trick, to refocus your dog's attention on you in a difficult situation, or as a way to get your dog to wipe her feet when she comes in the house.
To teach this behavior you can use your hand or a target stick to lure the dog while shaping the behavior.
1. With your dog standing and facing you, get her to follow the target stick 1/4 of the way counter-clockwise in a large circle and click/treat. Make sure you present the target at your dog's nose level. Do this several times.
2. Now try presenting the target stick at the 1/4 way mark and wait until the dog touches it with her nose on her own before you click/treat. Practice until she is easily doing this.
3. Now try presenting the target stick at the 1/4 way mark and moving it slowly towards the 1/2 way mark. At this point, the dog may spin the remainder of the way around the circle on her own. Click/treat!
4. Once your dog is reliably following the target stick all the way around the circle you can add the cue "Spin" and begin miminizing the target stick to a hand signal. Slide the target stick up in your hand until you are eventually just using your finger to point and make a circular motion in the air.