dog training principles
These are reminders to myself about how to work with dogs.
Earn trust and respect. Be a leader that the dog doesn’t want to let down.
Leaders provide direction and protection. Direction means exercise and discipline. Work, play, and meeting other dogs drains energy. A tired dog is a happy dog. Protection means health and safety. The dog recognizes the leader for meeting their needs and helping them be balanced.
High value treats go a long way. Positive reinforcement is critical for basic obedience. But having treats all the time is unrealistic. Phase out treats fairly quickly in favor of positive attention. When using treats, make sure they are high value and engage the dog’s nose.
Attention is touch, talk, and eye contact. It is when you give affection or it is when you let the dog know you disagree with what they’re doing. A lot of dog behavior issues stem from humans either not knowing how to disagree with the dog or from giving affection at the wrong time, so those are things to focus on.
Set rules and boundaries as a pack. It’s important to be able to articulate what are the rules, what constitutes an infraction, and how do we correct it. The default model is a mother dog teaching her pups.
Personal space equals respect. Dogs need to understand the personal space of humans and other dogs. They should respect boundaries enough to be safe around small children.
Corrections with precise timing and appropriate severity. With severity, if we over-do it, we destroy trust and cause suffering. If we under-do it, the dog doesn’t even register that we are disagreeing with their behavior or that we’re capable of enforcing a rule.
When a dog’s brain gets too excited it goes into fight, flight, or avoidance. We want to get them to calm surrender. To get there we need to understand what triggers their excitement and how do they deal with it. Fight is the most serious. Flight can easily turn into fight. Corrections like a clap, a shout "hey", hitting the end of the leash, or a touch on the hip, are used to snap the brain out of fight or flight.
It takes however long it takes. Let the dog’s brain work it out and then move forward.
Vocabulary and gestures for cues, like “come”, “stay”, etc. can be whatever you want, as long as you’re consistent. Only give an instruction when you are willing to follow through to make sure it happens.
The leader in a dog pack is calm and assertive. They demonstrate patience and consistency. We have rules because real life has consequences. We don’t hold grudges or get emotional.
Dogs pick up on all kinds of subtle signals. If you’re tense, they know. We work through our own emotional issues for however long it takes so that we can be the source of calm, positive energy that our friends deserve.
More at https://ryanblakeley.net/p/dogs