This week is our first class with dogs. The Teen Tyrants curriculum includes: 1. Voluntary check-ins: Learning that looking at you is always rewarding. 2. Food Manners: Learning to be polite around food, the foundation for "leave it". 3. The Name Game: Learning to pay attention when your dog hears her name. 3. Yielding to leash pressure: Learning not to pull against, but to yield, to pressure on the leash (and collar). 4. Sit Stay: Learning to sit and stay until released. 5. Down Stay: Learning to lie down and stay until released. 6. Touch and Find It: Learning to touch her nose to your hand (palm, fist or fingers), your leg, or an object; and learning to search for food. 7. The recall: We will begin conditioning the recall cue so make sure you have watched The Bacon Recall video. 8. Leash handling and loose leash walking: We will practise "slide" and "mime pulling", skills taught during the first class without dogs. We will try out different techniques for walking with a loose leash. 9. Greeting people politely: Learning to greet calmly with four feet on the floor and by invitation. 10. Accepting other dogs as part of the environment: We will work on helping the dogs to learn to focus on you and to accept the other dogs in the class as part of the environment and not available to greet unless they are invited to do so.
Below is information on some of these skills.
voluntary check-ins: step 1
Teach your dog to check in with you, especially when something changes in the environment. Throughout the day, when your dog happens to make eye contact with you, mark with Yes or a clicker. Feed, move away and mark/treat again.
Do this at least once whenever something changes about the situation when you are with your dog (leaving the house, coming back inside, bicycle appearing, someone coming home, just met another dog and you're walking away, etc.) You can practice walking between rooms in your house. Watch this wonderful video of reinforcing eye contact whenever the puppy offers it: There is lots to learn from this video:
Notice that this is a voluntary, offered behaviour by the puppy. The person never solicits the puppy's attention. She moves around to change the environment and then she waits until the puppy looks at her. It is much more powerful if your puppy or dog chooses to look at you than if she looks at you because you ask her.
homework: practice noticing and rewarding voluntary check-ins at home this week!
Teach your teenager to be polite around food. Teach him that calm and polite behaviours will gain him access to food but excited and impolite behaviours will not.
When teaching food manners it is important to be clear in your mind what behaviours you will accept around food and what behaviours you will not accept. If you are not clear, you cannot expect your dog to understand! Desirable behaviours around food that you could reinforce include: looking at you; sitting, standing or lying quietly; and maintaining distance from the food. Behaviours you might decide are not acceptable include barking, snatching, grabbing, staring at the food, and jumping towards the food.
Consistency is important and remember that your dog is learning even when you are not deliberately training him. Don't give him treats if he is engaging in a behaviour you don't like! Make sure all members of the family follow the same procedure.
Once you have decided what behaviours you want to reinforce, communicate that to your dog. Start by putting the food in a bag or bowl and holding it up high, out of reach of the dog. The height makes it easier for him to disengage from the food. Be careful not to spill or drop the food on the floor where your dog can take it because then he will learn that snatching the food does work!
As soon as you see a behaviour you have decided is on your "desirable" list, take a piece of food and give it to your dog. If you extend your arm out and give it to him at a distance, you are helping him to keep himself further away from the food. As your dog gives you desirable behaviour, you can lower the food with the ultimate goal of being able to place the container and eventually the food, on the floor. If your dog lunges for the food, or barks, or otherwise does something from the "undesirable" list, simply move the food higher up and begin again. Throughout this process, you don't need to say anything to your dog. He is learning through his own actions and the consequences of those actions what behaviours earn him access to the food and what behaviours do not.
We start teaching our dogs to love their names when they are young puppies. We teach little puppies that their name means something wonderful will happen.
Now that your puppy is a teen, we keep adding value to her name and teach her that when she hears her name, she should pay attention until you release her.
If your dog does not already love her name, start at the beginning and condition a positive association to her name. Watch Julie Daniels do this with Frankie and Koolaid.
Play The Name Game with your teen, Step 1:
Count out five treats.
Hold the treats out of sight and say your dog's name.
When your dog looks at you, click and treat.
Stay silent and move away a few steps.
Click and treat when your dog orients towards you.
Move three more times and click and treat your dog for orienting towards you every time you move.
Release your dog.
Note that you only say your dog's name ONCE. You are teaching her that hearing her name means "pay attention to me until I release you" and "the next instruction is for you." Watch Remi and me play The Name Game.
yield to leash pressure: step 1
Teach your dog to move with the pressure of the leash instead of against it, and to turn toward you when he feels the sensation of resistance on his collar or harness.
Teach this skill gently. This skill is useful for loose leash walking, encouraging calm behaviour in the presence of distractions, and teaching your dog to greet people and other dogs calmly.
Some "do's" and "don'ts": Don't: • Jerk, tug, or “pop” the leash. • Pull harshly. • Attempt to teach it while your dog is already pulling excitedly towards something or someone, Do: • Begin teaching it in a very easy context, when your dog is calm. • Make it very rewarding for your dog to turn toward you or move in the direction of the pressure. • Consider using a harness instead of a collar to avoid pressure on the neck.
Step 1:Build a positive association between the sensation of his harness being pulled, and yummy food. Stand or sit calmly with your dog on a short leash and gently pull at the leash for a second or two, then stop, and immediately deliver a treat. Your dog's behaviour doesn't matter at this point. Deliver the treat no matter what he is doing.
TOUCH AND FIND IT
These two cues - "Touch" and "Find It" will have many uses throughout your dog's life. They are fun to learn and teach together.
Touch: With this cue, your dog touches her nose to your hand. Touch is useful for getting your dog’s focus, moving her around, getting past distractions, and even getting your dog to come to you. In order to "touch", she has to turn away from what she is doing and bring her nose to your hand, automatically bringing the rest of her body with her. It’s a useful skill and dogs generally love to learn it and do it!
Teaching "Touch" to Bug. This is her first session. Notice that I do not say the cue yet. I want to get the behaviour first. Notice also that I wait for her to stop looking for treats and to look at me before I extend my hand. You want to make sure you have your dog's attention before you ask her for a behaviour. Otherwise, you are teaching her to ignore you.
Find It: Find It is another incredibly useful cue. You can use it as a distraction, to reduce stress, and for physical and mental exercise. Say "Find It" and toss a treat on the floor for your puppy to find. If your dog is not used to finding food, make it easy at first by bowling the treat gently at a short distance. If the treat is a different colour than the floor that will make it easier at first. As your dog gets better at this skill, you can throw the food farther and use different surfaces including grass. Teaching "Find It" to Bug. I use a towel to make it easier and quicker for her to find the treat. I say the word first, my hands still, and then I toss the treat for her to find.
Alternate between "Touch" and "Find It".When you click for your dog touching your hand, say Find It and toss a treat on the floor for your puppy to find. This moves the puppy away and sets you up for another Touch, automatically building distance into the Touch cue. Remember to increase the distance gradually, always setting your puppy up for success! Here's Bug doing "Touch" and "Find It" - she's pretty new to both cues and does great!
calling all dogs! building a rock solid recall
Coming when called is one of the most important behaviours you can teach your dog. Having a reliable recall is essential when allowing your dog off leash. Training a rock solid recall is well worth the time and effort so that you have a dog you can trust to come when you call.
If your dog is in the habit of ignoring your recall cue, it's best to choose a new cue. It's easier to start fresh than to try to rehabilitate a cue that she has learned not to pay attention to. Like all behaviours, it's important to build a strong foundation for the recall. Watch The Bacon Recallto see how to build a reliable recall step by step.
Remember, if your dog has learned to ignore your recall cue, choose a new one. As you see in the video, you can choose whatever word you want for your recall cue. The word doesn't matter to your dog! I think it's helpful to choose a word that you find amusing or that you like to say, because then it helps you to say the word in a lighthearted, fun way and being lighthearted and fun will also encourage your dog to come when you call! For example, one of my recall words is "Cookies!" It's impossible to say that word in an angry or frustrated way! It makes me laugh whenever I call out "Cookies" to my dogs and I sure love the way they come running when they hear it! Watch me condition TT, Remi, and Buddy to the recall cue "Cookies!" Notice I am not asking them to come here. I am simply conditioning the word "Cookies!" to mean something wonderful, the first step in building a recall cue.
Do you have to keep rewarding your dog's recall throughout her life? I would say yes. In positive reinforcement training we often talk about fading the rewards once your dog has learned the behaviour. But with recalls, I don't think that is a good idea because your dog gets rewarded/reinforced by the environment all the time on walks, for example, chasing squirrels or birds, following scent trails, and running and jumping with freedom. It's smart to keep your recall strong by continuing to reward it. I suggest that every time your dog comes when you call you give her some kind of "treat". The treat can be food but doesn't always have to be. The "treat" can also be a happy response from you that makes your dog feel good. It can be an opportunity to chase you for a bit or to engage in some other kind of play between you and your dog. You can throw a stick for your dog. In short, if you want a rock solid recall, especially in the face of exciting and interesting distractions, you should let her know that coming when you call will always be rewarding for her.