Communicating with your dog & Building a Relationship


This kind of leadership is in a word "Management". Modifying behavior through management can save time, stress, and build a relationship worth having. I started with compulsion methods that are unfortunately, still quite popular. Using compulsion and food, I had been unable to fine tune performances and help my dogs generalize without losing confidence. Yes, I accomplished obedience but at a cost to my relationship with my dog. Positive techniques have not only "tweaked" the minute details of each exercise, but have made practicing much more fun for both me and my dogs! Positive training even reaches into the souls of the rescue dogs who have so much emotional baggage. This training method in no way reminds them of their past abuse and in this way we are able to shape and remold their attitudes and behavior. These methods are less stressful on the dog and owner. By simply reinforcing good behavior and ignoring bad behavior, the dog learns without stress or emotional upheaval.Lessons are discounted to rescue aussies!
Positive Obedience Training using operant conditioning is the method of choice. The immediate heartwarming response of the dog's happiness and fast learning is proof that the laws of shaping behavior and positive reinforcement are the equivalent of a magic wand in dog obedience. Think about it, they train Killer Whales using these techniques. Try putting a prong collar on Shamu!!! Please, for your conscience and your dog , learn the principles of shaping and changing behavior, and USE ONLY positives. Throw away your leash and your collar with these methods. I find the only behaviors my dogs can't learn are the ones they are not physically capable of. I believe in my dogs and they rise to greet new challenging behavior joyfully!!!
Quotes For Behavior modification through Positive Methods Only .
These principals are embedded in every lesson!

"Location, location, location."
Also known as "Place conditioning"
Dogs have great memories for what happens in certain places. Good or Bad. One of the quickest ways to
train a dog is to teach him to perform a certain task in a specific place.

"Seize the moment" (Purely Positive Dog Training by Sheila Booth) Timing, timing, timing. the owner's
primary role in training is to provide immediate feedback(3 to 5 seconds) to the dog.

"Get the Food Out of the Bowl and into the Training Session. " Stop giving free food. (S. Booth) Food
training in no way cheapens the bond with your dog! Take advantage of the most powerful reinforcer that
exists and associate it with your leadership.

"Premack it" (S. Booth) The dog learns to perform a certain behavior (one that you want him to do) for
access to what he wants to do. (i.e. sit before you open the door)

"Good Trainers fix problems. Great Trainers never get to the Problems" (Ted Turner) Be Proactive. Prevent
unwanted behavior.

"Positive Training foster willing communication, a cooperative attitude and an enthusiastic love of
learning" (S. Booth)

"Positively reinforce any and all behavior you want to continue" (S. Booth)

"Forgive Forgetting" (S. Booth) "Train by Direction not Correction" When was your last mistake?
"If you can manage to forgive yourself you should be able to forgive your dog!"

"If You Are in a Hole Stop Digging!" (Patty Ruzzo) If behavior deteriorates Go Back! Go Back to the step
the dog is able to earn reinforcement for. A rule of thumb for reinforcing behavior, when you make it
harder (distractions) you go back up to 100% reward. As the dogs performance becomes flawless go back
down to 50% before making it harder with yet some other variation on how you want it done. When all
the criteria have been added you may go for a lower maintenance schedule than 50%. (S. Booth) Get over
any obsession you have with commands and start focusing on providing the consequences. Commands are
just signals which inform the dog which behavior might earn him reinforcement. You have to have the
behavior first. If the behavior is weak there is no point trying to signal it. This is such a hard thing to
resist, I think it is so ingrained in us to say something. It is truly to our benefit in training to refrain from
adding a signal too early and misleading the dog. A final note on reinforcing is to try and end session on a
high note. Quit while you are ahead by creating something small to reinforce.

"Do No Damage" (S Booth) This is a super feel good principle. If my timing is off and I fail to reinforce a
behavior, the worst that happens is it takes the dog longer to learn the behavior. The relationship has not
suffered. "Freedom from Fear" for the dog. During training the dog is free to take a chance and show you
every behavior they have and you can reinforce what you are working toward. Punishment introduces
suspicion for the dog and slows down learning. It is not unusual for positively trained dogs to initiate
training sessions.

To Further explore behavior modification through positive only reinforcement read
"Culture Clash" by Jean Donaldson
"Purely Positive Training Companion to Competition" by Sheila Booth
"Clicker Training For Obedience" by Morgan Spector

Why switch to Positive Reinforcement Training and what exactly does Positive mean?

In all Positive Training (Operant Conditioning) the dog's behavior is shaped through positive reinforcement (e.g. food) as opposed to the Command Based Training where the focus is on eliminating the behaviors you don't want through the use of aversives, such as the leash pop. Using Positive Reinforcement the dog works with drive and happiness. He learns to try , try , try. He wants to get it right! Dogs trained this way will initiate training sessions. They want to learn. Shaping teaches the dog to think. Dogs trained with PR are usually more consistent because they understand the desired behavior better. PR training produces dogs not afraid of failure. instead , they try harder to attain their inevitable reward. The dog learns that how it acts determines what will happen. This empowers the dog. He generalizes this lesson and his behavior now works the environment to produce the results he is looking for, (food, toy, play, your attention, outside, inside etc.) In this method of training the behavior is displayed first and then the cue (command) is added. This is the opposite of the Negative Reinforcement Training, Jerk and Praise. With the Command Based J & P training the word comes before you force the behavior on the dog. In J&P negative reinforcement squashes the dog's behavioral repertoire. The dog fears consequences so much that he offers little. If you train with Negative reinforcement (aversives) the premise is that you are taking something undesirable away in an effort to reinforce the behavior that has occurred. What R- ultimately teaches the dog is how to avoid something . You can train behaviors using R- but it is a constant battle with avoidance. Another problem with aversives is that it suppresses behavior, not only the one you want is suppressed but any other you might be looking for in the future.. My perspective has changed from "why is this dog disobeying?" to "What did I accidentally teach?" The OMNIPOTENT fundamental laws of learning available to everyone and THEY WORK MAGIC!!

Subpages (1): Aussie Versatility