BigDog's training tips...

Discussion in 'Dog Training Forum' started by CreatureTeacher, Apr 12, 2005.

  1. CreatureTeacher

    CreatureTeacher New Member

    Joined:
    Jan 21, 2005
    Messages:
    1,445
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    0
    Occupation:
    5
    Location:
    Denver, CO
    I PMed this to you, BigDog, but I wanted to make sure you got it all. It also occured to me that maybe other folks would benefit from it too! Enjoy, if you can stay awake! ;)

    ___________________________
    Hey DogDad!

    Sorry it took me so long to get back with you. I agree that it's very important for you to teach Rocky anything and everything you can to gain his respect and strengthen your bond. I also think you may want to review the resource control thing and make sure you follow it strictly. I think your problem is that Rocky is too smart for his own good! He's going to be a blast when he grows up, but until then you have to play "tough love" daddy for a while.

    You can teach a dog anything that he's physically capable of doing. There are three behavioral principles that dictate the way any animal reacts to a given stimulus. First, behavior that is reinforced is likely to increase. You can reinforce particular behaviors on purpose (like when you're training) and others by accident (like when Rocky won't stop biting you). Reinforcers (or rewards) include anything Rocky wants: talking, treats, petting, play, and toys. Remember that things you and I think are negative can also be rewards, like yelling. To almost all dogs, any attention is good attention. The second principle is that behaviors that are ignored are likely to extinguish. The absolute best thing you can do to stop almost any undesirable behavior (like nipping or barking) is to ignore it. Remove yourself or Rocky from the situation by leaving the room or even standing on a chair where he can't reach you and looking at the ceiling. When he's being a pill, pretend there's no dog there at all, even if it's hard to do. The third principle is that if you use different reinforcers in a random way, Rocky will learn faster. Here's an example: Say that every time Rocky sits when you ask him to, you give him a dog cookie. Sit, cookie, sit, cookie. After a while, Rocky will get bored with sitting for the same old cookie over and over. He'll probably sit less and less often when you ask him to. On the other hand, say he sits and this time he gets a cookie. Next time he gets a pat on the head. The time after that he gets a game of fetch. Then a little bit of hot dog. Then a game of chase. No matter which of these reinforcers is his favorite, he will get it sooner or later. He'll keep sitting when you ask him to because each reward is a surprise, and one of them just might be that hot dog or game of tug that he really enjoys. Think of people playing slot machines; they'll pump $50 in, one quarter at a time, because the next time they pull that lever might be the big payoff. Rocky will keep doing the behavior you want if you vary your reinforcement, because he's waiting for the big payoff! Those are the three most basic rules of learning, and you can use them to teach pretty much any mammal anything you want it to learn. You just have to find his reinforcers and work with them.

    Dogs in particular work on pretty simple rules. First, assume that if Rocky knows what you want, he'll do it. That means that if something isn't working, don't blame Rocky. Instead, reexamine your teaching methods. He probably doesn't understand what you want, so you'll need to show him in a different way. Second, don't ever manhandle him to get him to do what you want. Use treats, toys, or any other interesting reward to lure him into doing your "trick", then praise him and let him have the reward. People who push on their dog's butts to teach them to sit have a much harder time than those who use the method I told you about. Dogs don't like being pushed around, and I haven't yet encountered something I couldn't teach without touching the dog at all. Touch should always be a reward, never a punishment. Third, be consistent! I can't stress that enough. If it's not okay for Rocky to nip your toes while you're asleep, then it's not okay for him to nip your toes ever. If it's not okay for him to bark at you, then it's not okay for him to bark at any member of your family. If he can't jump on you when you're wearing your nice slacks, he can't jump on you when you're wearing jeans. This means you need to ignore him every time he nips or barks or does something else nasty. It also means you use consistent cues for all your commands. If "down" means "ankles and elbows on the floor", then that's the only word you use to get that result. (You can't teach him "down" and then expect him to know what "lie down" means.) Sometimes it helps to sit down with your family and actually write the 'dog rules' out. We have ours hanging on our fridge so no one forgets what the dogs can and can't do. Fourth, stay calm!! No matter what awful, insane thing Rocky does, getting upset will only make the situation worse. Remember the rules and use it as a learning opportunity. Last, nothing will encourage good behavior from Rocky like when you recognize him for it. If he's lying down instead of actively irritating you, go reward him! Don't call him to you, or he won't understand what he's being rewarded for. If he's playing with you quietly, reward him! If he's avoiding putting those sharp freaking puppy teeth on your feet, reward him! Recognize the good behavior as well as the bad. Make sure he knows you'll notice when he does something right.

    Those are the big behavioral secrets. Now you know!

    So, I'll give you ideas how to teach a few tricks, then you can try out your own creative training genius!

    Down:
    Make sure you have a solid "sit", because "down" is pretty tough. We define "down" as ankles and elbows on the floor, no less. Lots of dogs try to cheat on their downs, so don't give in to a half-crouch. With Rocky in a sit, hold a treat in your hand. Pretend there's a wire hooking your hand to Rocky's nose, and pull his face down toward the floor. When he follows your hand, give him the treat. When he's doing it every time, move a step further: pull his head to the floor, then move your hand away from him just a little. When you see his elbows bend as he reaches for your hand, give him the treat. Again, practice this a few times. Then move on to getting those elbows bent a little more, then a little more, until they actually hit the floor. The exact moment they do, say "down" clearly, give Rocky the treat, and throw a party! Act like no dog in the world has ever done anything so smart. Then go back to the beginning. Repeat a million times. If you do this six or seven times a day for about two weeks, you should be able to tell him "down" and have him actually do it. Be sure to carefully couple the word "down" with the action just as it happens, not before or after. You'll slow him down a lot if you tell him "down. down. Rocky, down." over and over and over again. The word will lose meaning if he's not associating it with the movement of his body. (This same idea applies to teaching any command.)

    Roll over: Some dogs aren't comfortable with this command. If you can tell Rocky's uncomfortable, don't force him into it. This is definitely one where you aren't allowed to touch the dog while teaching the command, because anything you do to physically help him along will make it harder to teach. With Rocky in a down, move your hand with a treat around the side of his head to his shoulder. Let his nose follow the treat. When his nose gets to his shoulder, give him the treat. Next, either move the treat a little above and further over the shoulder or just hold it there. When Rocky either shifts his weight over or actually falls onto his side, give him the treat. Then take it a little further each time until he's actually on his side. Then keep tempting him over until he rolls. As he's rolling, just a little after the halfway point of the roll, give the command "roll over". Then give him the treat. If he seems uncomfortable or off balance and doesn't want to go all the way around, leave it for a day and then try again. If he's still not happy with it, he may not be old enough for the coordination required. But it's still a fun trick if you can get him into it!

    I sure hope all that helps. I know it's a lot of information, but if you print it out and read it with your dad I think you'll both do better by Rocky. And be sure you're doing the resource control thing. Rocky's a handful, but he's not the nuttiest dog I've known by far! You're doing really well. Just be sure to stay calm and teach Rocky by example.

    As always, let me know if you have any questions at all. Take care!

    Emma (CreatureTeacher)
     
  2. BigDog2191

    BigDog2191 Big German Shepherd

    Joined:
    Jan 26, 2005
    Messages:
    3,749
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    0
    Location:
    Baton Rouge, Louisiana
    Yeah, I read through all of it just a little while ago and I think I should continue working on sit until I know he learns it perfectly because he sure is NOT bored with it.

    Oh, and thanks for the help!
     
  3. Renee750il

    Renee750il Felurian

    Joined:
    Dec 20, 2003
    Messages:
    94,266
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    36
    Occupation:
    3, Bimmer, GSDX (m); Kharma, Fila Brasileiro (f);
    Location:
    Where the selas blooms
    Home Page:
    Thanks for posting those, Emma :)
     
  4. Debi

    Debi Moderator

    Joined:
    May 19, 2004
    Messages:
    15,731
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    0
    Good read, Emma. I always need a bit of help, too...this is just GREAT!! :)
     
  5. CreatureTeacher

    CreatureTeacher New Member

    Joined:
    Jan 21, 2005
    Messages:
    1,445
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    0
    Occupation:
    5
    Location:
    Denver, CO
    Yay! I'm happy when you guys are happy! :D
     
  6. Gustav

    Gustav Don't encourage me..

    Joined:
    Feb 23, 2005
    Messages:
    9,125
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    0
    Occupation:
    Oh hundreds!
    Location:
    France
    I enjoyed that! Thanks Emma!! I may have another go at roll over using the method you described, last time Gus didn't like it though!! Not a fan of rolling over :( I'll give it one last go and if he still hates it i'll leave it!
     
  7. CreatureTeacher

    CreatureTeacher New Member

    Joined:
    Jan 21, 2005
    Messages:
    1,445
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    0
    Occupation:
    5
    Location:
    Denver, CO
    That's a good plan, Gustav. Some dogs just don't like to do it. I think it makes them feel off balance. But all dogs have their talents, just like all people do! You just have to help him find his own genius. :)
     
  8. Gustav

    Gustav Don't encourage me..

    Joined:
    Feb 23, 2005
    Messages:
    9,125
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    0
    Occupation:
    Oh hundreds!
    Location:
    France
    I think I need to repress Gus's genius!! He's far too clever! ;)
     
  9. Barb04

    Barb04 Love my pets Staff Member

    Joined:
    Sep 28, 2004
    Messages:
    27,408
    Likes Received:
    1
    Trophy Points:
    38
    Location:
    Tennessee
    Emma, great tips! I'm listening to you so I can work with Kona. Thanks
     
  10. avenlee

    avenlee New Member

    Joined:
    Jun 2, 2004
    Messages:
    1,881
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    0
    Occupation:
    3 (2 dogs, 1 cat)
    Location:
    Massachusetts
    Your wonderful Emma! Going to use the tips and suggestions on my own dogs. Thanks !
     
  11. Rose's Gal

    Rose's Gal New Member

    Joined:
    Nov 24, 2004
    Messages:
    600
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    0
    Occupation:
    way too many :0)
    Location:
    Indiana
    Reading how you would teach a dog to rollover was how I taught Blackie. He LOVES to rollover now, and if he wants a treat, he'll go through his sit, laydown, rollover, sit again exercise. lol It is pretty funny. And when he is really hyper, if I tell him to laydown, he'll laydown, and then rollover. :rolleyes: I need to work on that....lol
     
  12. Purr

    Purr ~3 Mutts~

    Joined:
    Apr 6, 2005
    Messages:
    733
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    0
    Occupation:
    3 dogs, 14 cats, and 2 RES's
    Location:
    In the USA!!
    Emma, that was terrific! Thanks for sharing that!
     
  13. Saje

    Saje Island dweller

    Joined:
    Dec 26, 2004
    Messages:
    23,932
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    36
    Home Page:
    I tried to teach maverick to roll over once. It wasn't successful. I think it's hard on his large bones. I didn't bother because he wasn't fond of it. I bet mikey or Nanook would do it easily though
     
  14. mrose_s

    mrose_s BusterLove

    Joined:
    Mar 27, 2005
    Messages:
    12,169
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    0
    Occupation:
    2 dogs, 2 rats
    Location:
    QLD, Australia
    WE have a problem with that. Sophie is an "outside dog" and quite happy, daisy is an inside dog and she is happy, everyone ecepts that, but NOT anyone has any idea what buster is. Sometimes he is allowed in, others he gets yelled at by my dad, so he sneaks around the house when he is allowd in and when hes not he gets introuble. the hole system is screwed.

    he comes in and sleeps on my bed and i have to take him outside, plus my sister and i get in trouble for letting him in when we dont know the rules either. He worries about us way to much, i think he should be allowed in the house. Sophie is better at guarding the house, and buster the people. Daisy "sounds the alert" lol
     
  15. maui

    maui New Member

    Joined:
    Jun 5, 2004
    Messages:
    123
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    0
    Thanks Emma! So glad this is here...I was wondering how to proceed with Roll Over!
     
  16. CreatureTeacher

    CreatureTeacher New Member

    Joined:
    Jan 21, 2005
    Messages:
    1,445
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    0
    Occupation:
    5
    Location:
    Denver, CO
    Mrose, you really should sit down with your family and get that cleared up. It's not fair to Buster. He's probably worried sick that he'll break the rules and get in trouble, but he never knows for sure what the rules are!
     

Share This Page