Tag Archives: puppy training

Dog Training 101 Proofing Cues using doggie pushups and more!

Rat will work for food!
Rat will work for food!

 

September 29, 2009

Joyce Kesling, CDBC

Dog Training 101 Proofing Cues, using doggie pushups and more!

I decided to write this blog after following up with a puppy client today.  I recorded the training sessions this morning and while waiting on all the downloads called the client.  Like many clients, they have ups and downs for all kinds of reasons.  This is one reason pet dog training can be challenging as opposed to working with dog owners who compete with their dogs.  The competition dog trainer can rely on these owners showing up every week, training like crazy in-between classes, because their dog serves a conduit for meeting other types of human needs, not just companionship. 

There’s absolutely nothing wrong with just wanting a pet dog simply for companionship, personally that’s my choice.  Companionship with dogs, whether it requires competition or simply filling in as a friend, the dog provides  different kinds of needs.  In some instances, that’s why we have specific breeds.  However, whether we choose dogs strictly for companionship and/or going for titles, we all should strive for dogs to have good manners.  Dogs with good manners tend to be more appreciated, we enjoy being around them, like good friends.

Clients often have reasonable excuses for inconsistency; however, one problem often cited by pet dog owners, inconsistent cue delivery could be problematic.  Ah ha, something we all suffer from when we live with spouses, children, well meaning but…relatives and friends, we can expect inconsistent responses from our dogs.  This is a personal problem, remember the dog is just being a dog, doing what dogs do and we can always view the problem as insignificant.  However, if a dog’s behavior is causing conflicts not just between owner and dog, but other humans as well, then we need to figure out how to resolve the conflict between man and dog. 

In this case, we have an adolescent dog with a lot of energy.  Some of us recognize energy expenditure doesn’t always mean physical, in fact for some dogs too much exercise can actually be counterproductive.  We forget or neglect that training is mentally exhausting.  That is one reason pet toy manufacturers have devised so many puzzle type objects.  I’m sure some of us know what it’s like working in jobs that need a lot of mental thought and focus, we are not just mentally exhausted but physically too.

Therefore, suggestion is get going and start using doggie pushups more…thank you Dr. Ian Dunbar.  This is a great way for proofing cues.  In addition, don’t forget to slow down setting your dog up for stay training, attention and recalls, not focusing on walks and energized play sessions.  It’s also a good idea, if possible, to break up the dogs food ration to use throughout the day during these training sessions.  You can still do this even if you work away from home.  No Excuses.

These next two videos show doggie pushups, proofing cues, adding new behaviors and using non-reward markers as directive cues.  It’s also important to emphasize both verbal and especially hand cues.  Dogs do not understand the English language; they actually understand visual cues better.  They pay closer attention and understand what our body and expression is saying, rather than what’s coming out of our human mouth. 

In this first video, I briefly discuss concern-using treats with this “individual” dog.  Emphasis on “individual” since I have some knowledge of his earlier behavior problems and immediately noticed he wouldn’t work for anything unless you “bribed” him with a treat.  I still use his food during training sessions, but work at getting more and more individual behaviors before rewarding him.  I’m also adding new behaviors to break up the monotony that may impede learning when using repetitive behaviors.  This is also one reason short 5-10 minute training sessions work great in the beginning of training while slowly working up to longer sessions. 

Note using the non-reward marker provides the dog with a directive cue to try something else; you will see a few examples where this was used effectively.  There are also times when one gets stuck, simply move away, redirect your dog to do something else and then go back to your previous goal behavior.  Most of all, notice how rarely if ever cues are repeated, an occasional mistake is not going to be the end of the world, but repeated and inconsistent cues coupled with reinforcement contingencies has the potential to create frustration and anxiety for dogs. 

There’s a funny moment when our communication was not in synchrony.  I wanted Darwin to follow my hand around to my side and he chooses to get there using a different way, perhaps for him, it made more sense.  Sometimes we have to remember we are training dogs.  We are training them to do what we want dogs to do; it does not mean dogs understand why and/or that it is natural for them!  I try to remember this when training, it prevents me from blaming the dog and/or as some people and trainers might suggest the dog is trying to dominate me, is stubborn, and my favorite is trying to get back at me, spiteful behavior!  Dogs are capable of doing many things, we see it all the time, but using human emotional descriptions suggested here goes beyond what dogs are capable of thinking.  Equating “guilt” for example has been disproved, dogs are simply responding to our body language!

Proofing cues, discussing food motivation

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-IkvTTk1dpE

Proofing cues, adding new behavior and distance

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mBGkvxj_lbU

 

Responsible Dog & Cat

Training and Behavior Solutions

Joyce D. Kesling, CDBC

Sarasota, Florida 34277

http://responsibledog.net

http://responsibledog.wordpress.com/

https://k9psych.wordpress.com/

http://k9psych.blogspot.com/

The greatness of a nation and its moral progress can be judged by the way its animals are treated.  Mahatma Gandhi 1869 – 1948 

Copyright Responsible Dog & Cat 2009

 

 

Housetraining ~ Do Dogs Learn to Wait? Wait for What?

Boudicca
Boudicca

Joyce Kesling, CDBC

This post is actually a sequel of sorts to Housetraining, using a signal to indicate need to eliminate.  The main point is dogs have the cognitive ability using simple associative learning to learn to “hold it” given the opportunity to learn housetraining correctly.  Keep in mind, since dogs, owners and environments where they live are not all the same, it may be necessary to adapt these basic ideas, to fit your personal lifestyle, rather than relying on some sort of standard procedure.  

The responsibilities for housetraining a dog can be overwhelming…especially when the dog’s owner is clueless or just plain LAZY.  In this case, seriously, thinking about owning a dog should be considered, it is a long-term commitment, and the responsibilities of pet ownership should be given the same consideration as having and raising children. 

Considerations for owning and raising a new puppy

Occasionally calls to board recently purchased puppies are received.  The new owners failed to consider upcoming vacation plans, when they need to be home housetraining!  It does not happen often, but it does, and caught off guard, I forget to quote double what I charge for boarding a housetrained dog.  Why, I’m going to need to devote twice as much time and energy into taking care of an untrained puppy. 

This is just one of many considerations potential pet owners should consider before purchasing puppies.  Consider what you and/or your families’ schedules and demands are for the next few weeks or months, before rushing into a decision that you will live with for 10-15 years; that is if the dog is provided patience and training preventing them from ending up in a shelter/rescue because you failed to train them properly! 

The housetraining process has many variables, sometimes determined by breed, size, and temperament.  However, your success depends on your understanding the correct process, your dogs physiological development, cognitive abilities (learning), reasoning for confinement and close supervision, but most of all, how you contribute in teaching your dog to wait for you to provide them opportunities to eliminate in the right location. 

Breeders Responsibility – Before you bring your puppy home!

Puppies around 8-12 weeks, generally the time we bring them into our lives are at a critical stage in their development, both physiologically and mentally.  Some of your puppies housetraining actually begins at the breeding location.  This is why we encourage potential puppy purchasers to look carefully at whom and where they purchase their puppy.

Selling puppies before the age of 8 weeks is questionable; some breeders and dog experts suggest 12 weeks might be a more appropriate age to sell puppies.  This could present problems because the socialization period would overlap with ongoing breeder care and responsibility; so you want to make sure the breeder you select has done some if not all of the following no matter what age your puppy is at time of purchase.  This will help in housetraining, when you bring your new puppy home.

  1. Individual puppies should spend time in a puppy pen with an open crate.  This allows the puppy to begin learning where they sleep and where they eliminate.
  2. Each puppy should get one-on-one time with as many humans as possible
  3. Puppies should be isolated in a kennel for short periods of time (nap time), to prepare them for separation
  4. Breeders should begin introducing puppies to desirable substrates for elimination i.e. grass, crushed shell, sand, dirt, clay, concrete, anything but what is found inside a home!
  5. Puppies should be fed in individual bowls eliminating competition and possibility for developing food aggression later.

The time between 6-12 weeks is essential in developing a stable emotional temperament and affective tone.  This is the period most responsible for the development of social and emotional deficits.  This is why it is ill advised to remove puppies from their mother and littermates prematurely and why breeder selection is more important.

 We have now reached that point, you have done your homework, you have qualified and purchased your new puppy from a good breeder, you have selected the right puppy and breed for your lifestyle, and they have now entered your world.  It is completely up to you and/or your family to successfully finish the job of housetraining, teaching your puppy to “learn to wait” for you to provide his/her elimination opportunities!

Physiological Considerations

A little about your dog’s physiology

According to Lindsay (2001), “numerous conditioned and unconditioned digestive reflexes are triggered as soon as a bite of food is taken into the mouth.”  He says, the “internal alimentary reflexes function under the influence of classical conditioning” and external physiological conditions are controlled voluntarily through instrumental conditioning.  He further suggests, through proper training and conditioning the ability to control the external muscles associated with elimination are regulated by “cortical inhibition” and “for urination to occur, the external sphincter must be voluntarily relaxed” which can be “strongly influenced by instrumental learning” and why using appropriate training methods are necessary for achieving successful house training.

The following sections demonstrate “learning to wait” is simply not a stimulus response based on a learned location and/or substrate.  It is not the location and/or substrate the dog should ultimately associate with elimination. 

Certainly preferred locations and substrates are part of the overall association.  However, for the dog to learn effectively and reliably based on a real “need to go” versus an “adventure outside” is the association and connection with you and established cue! 

If you have not read Housetraining, using a signal to indicate need to eliminate you may not fully understand the explanation and its importance to successful housetraining a new puppy and/or adult dog not reliably housetrained in the first place!

Shortly after writing that article, I read another article on housetraining that prompted me to initiate a dialogue with the author.  The author suggested, the “[s]impliest [simplest] explanation is that they [dogs] are developing surface and location preferences for elimination and as dogs develop better muscle and nervous control over bladder and bowels they can choose when and where to relieve themselves.” 

This next section should provide a better explanation for how dogs learn the housetraining process, based on simple associations, but include more than simply “surface and location” stimuli to cause elimination to occur. 

Elimination Communication (EC)

In Housetraining, using a signal to indicate need to eliminate, I suggested housetraining dogs required the same kind of attention parents would give to potty training a child.  After my dialogue with the other author, I did some research on potty training children, to my surprise, my Google search turned up articles on a fairly new child potty training concept called “natural infant hygiene” or “elimination communication.”  The concept was inspired by “traditional practices of diaperless baby care” commonly used in third world countries and some natural based cultures. 

The author of a recent blog posted The Evolution of Potty Training that uses his recent experience training a new puppy with his current experience using elimination communication training his child. 

Elimination communication has four components, timing, signaling and body language, intuition and cueing.  All four components can be applied to housetraining dogs, but given some human work requirements and schedules, time allotted away from work for puppy owners versus stay at home parenting and parental leaves certainly raising a puppy will require some adjustments. 

Let’s address timing first and similarities

In potty training human babies, mothers learn when their babies need to eliminate based on feeding schedules and activity.  Proper housetraining puppies require the same considerations.  We learn through observation when puppies are more likely to need opportunities to eliminate.  For puppies, elimination is usually necessary first thing in the morning with the last opportunity before kenneling at night.  Other frequent times occur after eating and drinking, during playful activities and after napping during the day.  Initially new puppies may need to go out during the night, but this subsides as the puppy’s biological clock adjusts according to their physiological development. 

Puppies’ development for this process occurs more rapidly than their human counterpart that may take as long as 2-4 years depending on the individual and method used.  So consider yourself lucky if your only responsibility is training a new puppy!

Signaling and body language

An interesting association made concerning human parenting and using elimination communication is those who use this process suggest they become more attune to the needs and associated signals communicated from infants, suggesting this enhances the bonding process between mother and child.  To facilitate this type of training mothers must carry their infants around making these associations easier to recognize thus respond.

Training puppies requires we keep constant attention and supervision as well and watching for any signals of elimination behavior.  For dogs, this often includes sniffing, circling, whining, odd facial expressions and in some instances heading toward locations where the dog eliminated in the wrong location.  This should not occur if you are managing your puppy correctly! 

Contrasting, child elimination communication, we suggest puppy parents use short-term confinement using kennels, exercise pens that may include an open door kennel, naps (down time) scheduled throughout the day (used for impulse control), tethering via a lead to us and/or anchoring your puppy to a heavy object but remaining in close proximity to your location.  This allows us like humans parenting children to keep a watchful eye on our puppies and getting them outside before they have a chance to eliminate in the wrong location, setting them up to succeed.

Intuition

Mothers using the elimination communication suggest the “close nurturing relationship” helps them know when it is necessary to get the child to the potty location.  This is simply an unconscious knowing through observation and establishing the bond between mother and child that allows mothers to notice subtle behavioral change that may indicate specific needs.

This is not at all unlike dog owners who have established close attachments and secure bonds with their dogs.  However, this does mean we have to be in touch with our dogs and since dogs live in the moment, we need to learn to be equally observant of their behavior. 

Cueing

Communication elimination or natural infant hygiene used around the world requires a two-way communication between mother and infant.  The communication is formed using classical conditioning.  Human mothers having learned to recognize signals from the infant their need to eliminate is then paired using a verbal sound or cue, generally in human culture “shhh” or “sss” is used, some parents may use different signals for urination and defecation.  Other cues may also be associated with the elimination process such as holding the child in specific positions and locations.  In some instances, the child may eventually learn to signal the parent using the verbal cue.

There are some key differences however between teaching communication elimination between human children and dogs.  One of the most distinct differences is that dogs often learn through improper housetraining procedures and unwitting owners to use cues simply to get outside to play!  I doubt human parents experience this behavior, but it happens often enough with dogs, so dog parents need to be savvy enough to out think their dogs behavior.  This is where rewards, consequences, and confinement help establish successful housetraining for dog owners. 

Finally, the ability to “hold it”

Just like human children, dogs also go through stages of physical development that increases one’s ability to control their bodily functions.  This development occurs much faster in dogs and explained previously in “physiological considerations.”  The same occurs with human children who learn the “ability to retain” but at a human infant’s developmental pace and growing consequence of their awareness. 

Dogs possess the cognitive ability to associate and learn to control their sphincter muscles through similar conditioning as human children learning when/where access for elimination is available and by conditioning an associative cue to the process. 

Potential problems and why I don’t recommend using doggie doors!

Housetraining issues are common and second common reason dogs end up in shelters aggressive behavior is number one!  Often the client is using doggie doors!  Do you really think after all this discussion, puppies still know to take themselves outside to eliminate, and that only outdoors is the acceptable potty location, without your help and guidance in the beginning? 

Do you understand now how parents successfully use the same strategy to train infant children?  Dogs need your help just as much as human children require parents to be there, observing their signals, body language, and teaching cues associated with elimination, how is your puppy going to learn if you’re sitting on the couch learning how to train your puppy from the “dog whisperer” while assuming they understand what a doggie door means!

A couple of facts

  • Female dogs are just as capable of marking as males; an earlier issue of Journal Veterinary Behavior suggested this behavior does exist.  Thus, owners must be aware of their dog’s elimination habits through close observation; this means YOU need to be present!
  • When owners use doggie doors before their puppies elimination behavior is reliably trained, dogs may run in/out for all kinds of reasons, responding to noises, playing, perhaps even following you out there, but this doesn’t mean your dog understands without your guidance what she/he is supposed to do there!  Lack of supervision and being present when your dog eliminates can explain why so many owners using doggie doors end up with dogs that never reliably learned where the proper potty areas are located. 

My experience

Being a professional dog trainer, certified in dog behavior, I can reliably say that in all the years before becoming a professional in this industry, I never relied on dog doors to provide access for elimination purposes.  My dogs were always taken out on lead.  I think it is important dogs are supervised and their elimination behavior observed.  The only other option provided for my dogs is a securely fenced yard and still under my supervision. 

Sources:

http://www.responsibledog.net/house_training.html

Housetraining, using a signal to indicate need to eliminate

http://scienceblogs.com/primatediaries/2009/08/the_evolution_of_potty_trainin.php

http://www.naturalfamilyonline.com/5-diap/42-natural-infant-hygiene.htm

http://www.nytimes.com/2005/10/11/opinion/11small.html

http://www.parentingscience.com/infant-toilet-training.html

http://www.statemaster.com/encyclopedia/Elimination-communication

Responsible Dog & Cat

Training and Behavior Solutions

Combining Art and Science for Training Animals

Joyce D. Kesling, CDBC

P.O. Box 15992

Sarasota, Florida 34277

941-966-1188

http://responsibledog.net 

http://responsibledog.wordpress.com/

https://k9psych.wordpress.com/

http://k9psych.blogspot.com/

The greatness of a nation and its moral progress can be judged by the way its animals are treated.  Mahatma Gandhi 1869 – 1948

Copyright Responsible Dog & Cat  2009

 

Fetch and Retrieve

Boudicca Fetch and Retrieve
Boudicca Fetch and Retrieve

 

 

 

 

 

Fetch and Retrieve

I happen to love teaching dogs fetch and retrieve for a couple of very important reasons.  The first is this behavior is a building block for cooperation and what better way to teach a dog cooperation than getting him to willingly run after something, bring it back to you and then relinquish it!  The second biggest reason is providing an outlet for dogs who commonly love to chase things, what better way to redirect predatory behavior than through interactive play with our pets.  

Unfortunately, not all dogs get this training early in life.  Studies show that dogs learn this behavior best beginning when they are 9 weeks old.  However, this does not mean we can’t train this fun behavior, it just means we might need to put forth a little more effort.  Also, I tend to think all dogs are capable of learning this simple game so don’t get discouraged just because your dog isn’t a natural born retriever. 

You may also encounter other contributing factors that explain why dogs may be reluctant to play the game; some may be included in the following list. 

  1. Motivation
  2. History involving inadvertent punishment, i.e. punished previously for picking up a shoe
  3. Lack of early learning
  4. Never introduced to toys
  5. Distractions 

However, this doesn’t mean we should dismiss our dogs ability to learn this new skill, but rather we will just work harder to make it possible, keeping in mind we will gain ground in small increments that may be dependent on your individual dog. 

How we approach this training will depend on your dogs’ previous history and all the things I have already pointed out.  If we are beginning with a dog with little interest, we need to begin with the most basic step.  

Toys first 

If your dog already has a good history of playing with and interacting with toys, you may be able to skip ahead to the next level of learning.  If your dog lacks a good history of playing with toys or even you, it might be necessary to begin at the most basic level.  The idea is getting your dog in a playful mood and need to begin with an introduction to toys! 

The following is a short list of suggested toys

  1. Balls all types and materials and large enough to not be swallowed
  2. Rope toys – great for tug of war
  3. Hard rubber toys such as Kong toys and similar products
  4. Interactive toys such as Buster Cubes, stuffed Kong items, hollow stuffed marrow bones and similar products
  5. Soft Toys – I love soft toys, but unless you are familiar with how your dog interacts with soft objects I consider them to be given only under supervision to avoid swallowing any of the materials contained in them
  6. I like to suggest having a large sampling of toy types including different materials and textures – dogs love novelty and keeping toys put away keeps them more interesting
  7. Safe chew items – ask your behavior consultant or professional trainer for suggestions

This is a very limited list and a very small sampling of available options.  For more suggestions, ask your behavior consultant or trainer.  

Beginning basics – Grade School 

  1. Using one of your dog’s toys begin by rewarding any interest in the toy – if you are using click and treat, you will c/t every time your dog goes near the toy – this is shaping your dog toward the target behavior, your goal
  2. Throw the toy – your dog may chase it, if so c/t
  3. Tease him with the toy – this is my personal favorite
  4. Play peek-a-boo – hiding it behind your back
  5. If it squeaks, taunt him with it, this works great for terriers
  6. Reward any attempt to interact with the toy
  7. When he starts showing interest – put the toy away
  8. Never get angry or frustrated – always keep the activity upbeat and fun

Identifying the chain

Before we can begin, we first must identify the chain of behavior required in fetch and retrieve.  The following are the most basic steps in the behavior.

  1. Give – release item
  2. Take it – go fetch item
  3. Recall – return to you 

The behavior is performed using the following sequence, but is learned by back chaining.  

  1. Dog is in front position or along side of you using a wait cue
  2. Object is thrown
  3. Dog is cued to take it
  4. Dog returns (comes) to you
  5. Dog gives item to you 

Take it  

We first teach the dog what take it means as follows:

  1. Begin by offering your dog a treat, when he takes it c/t – do this about 8-10 times
  2. Next using 8-10 treats, offer him the treat, when he gets ready to take it, click and say the cue take it
  3. Once he is actively taking items in his mouth using the cue I like to begin introducing new items so the dog generalizes the behavior
  4. Maintain the excitement by keeping the retrieving objects put away in between training sessions
  5. Keep your training sessions short, upbeat and end when the dog is still successful 

Recalls – Sit – Wait

Recall, Sit and Wait should be part of your everyday training so this paper will not cover those training procedures.  If you are not familiar with these training procedures, ask your behavior consultant or training professional for the applicable handouts.  

Give (Release or Drop it) 

This behavior is the opposite of take it and trained as follows: 

  1. Begin first by offering a favorite toy to your dog
  2. When he takes it and has a firm hold, ask him to give or release offering him a treat at the same time
  3. The smell of the treat should immediately entice him to release the object
  4. When he releases quickly give him the treat repeating this 8-10 times
  5. When he is actively giving up the object, introduce the cue at the same time you offer the treat repeating this step 8-10 times
  6. Practice using different objects so he generalizes the behavior with many types of items, you may want to switch from using a treat in exchange for another similar toy or the exact same toy
  7. If you can’t get him to take a firm hold on the toy, you may have to shape this behavior separately 

Secondary basicsAchieving higher levels 

Once we have the foundation behaviors take it, give and recalls firmly in place we can precede to the next higher level of performance.  Remember good training is done slowly and not proceeding before the dog is ready.  Every dog will advance at their own pace and according to how much effort we put into their training, so don’t get discouraged if this takes more time than you expected, believe me it works or I wouldn’t be writing this.

  1. Start in low distraction environments this will prevent ruining any of our previously trained behaviors
  2. Make sure your dog is motivated and ready to play
  3. Rev him up if necessary
  4. Have plenty of treats
  5. Begin first by asking your dog to sit and wait
  6. Toss the toy a short distance away in front of the dog
  7. When you are ready ask him to take it
  8. Once he has taken the object in his mouth, using your recall encourage him to come using a happy tone of voice
  9. If he comes back, ask him to give offering him a treat at the same time
  10. Repeat this 3-5 times using the same distance
  11. Slowly increase the distance adding 5-10 feet depending on the dogs willingness and success at playing the game
  12. Repeat the behavior 3-5 times at every distance increase – you may even want to add additional repetitions
  13. If the dog shows any reluctance go back a step using a shorter distance and using more repetitions
  14. Use “slow dining” to reward excellent behavior
  15. Quit while your dog is successful
  16. Practice this every day slowly increasing the distance and repetitions necessary while building up the time spent performing the behavior
  17. Remember keep a smiley face on no matter how awkward your dog may seem

Slow dining is a form of jackpotting coined by Terry Ryan.  What this means is rather than quickly rewarding for good behavior, slow things down and give multiple treats or prolonged praise making it last at least 15 – 30 seconds.  This makes the reward more appetizing and furthers the bond between you and your dog. 

Oh, those difficult dogs! 

So you think you have one of those difficult dogs, well don’t get discouraged, here are a couple of helpful ways to get those less than willing retrievers to playfully go along with us. 

  1. If your dog has taken to a particular toy, duplicate it and when you throw one, present the other enticing him back using this as a lure or bribe if you want to call it that, either way the object is to get your dog to learn *how* to be more cooperative and how much fun this new behavior is!
  2. If necessary use a long line – tossing your dogs favorite toy, when he firmly has it in his mouth gently reel him in but not pulling, calling him in your happiest tone of voice encourage him to come and when he arrives make sure you reward him for his good behavior.  

Responsible Dog & Cat

Training and Behavior Solutions

Joyce D. Kesling, CDBC

Sarasota, Florida 34277

http://responsibledog.net 

http://responsibledog.wordpress.com/ 

https://k9psych.wordpress.com/

http://k9psych.blogspot.com/

The greatness of a nation and its moral progress can be judged by the way its animals are treated.  Mahatma Gandhi 1869 – 1948

                                                             Copyright Responsible Dog & Cat Rev A 2005 – 2009