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 through working roles, play, and meeting other dogs. A tired dog is a happy dog. Dogs recognize leaders 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. A lot of dog behavior issues stem from humans giving attention and affection at the wrong time.
Set rules and boundaries as a pack. Multiple humans should show the dog what the boundaries are and be consistent about them. Model dogs or senior dogs that assist a training session also help reinforce the rules.
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. 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 freeze. 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. Markers 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. Focus on the behavior first, then add a verbal cue.
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 makes life better for those around us.
More at https://ryanblakeley.net/p/dogs