Most Common Mistakes when training Dogs
You probably know that dog training can be done in a variety of ways. However, most methods used in this activity nowadays have in common one key-word: positive reinforcement as the most efficient way of training dogs. Indeed, statistics show that almost all of those successful training systems are based on positive reinforcement.
But no matter what training program you chose, you are likely to commit one or more of the most common errors. You should read this information in order to avoid them, because these three serious mistakes will make training sessions tiring and ineffective.
The first one consists in the lack of constancy. As you know, regular practice and repetition is the main condition for learning. For instance, after performing successfully a certain command, the dog receives a reward; it will expect to receive exactly the same reward after accomplishing exactly the same action. This is the way your dog understands the reward approach and this is how it learns.
But if you reward it sometimes and fail to do that other times before the dog gets the chance to learn, it will get confused. So the key to success lies in remaining consistent and not interrupting training sessions for long periods of time.
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The term collar training does not mean training the dog to wear a collar. What it does mean is the use of a collar to aid in the training of a dog. New dog owners usually have the experience of purchasing a leather or fabric buckle collar, snapping on a short leash, and then proceed to let the dog pull them around where ever dog wants to go. Corrections, if they are even attempted, consist of sharp pulls on the leash to physically yank the dog back into control.
The experienced trainer uses one of several different types of collars to both control and train a dog. One of the most popular is a trademark brand collar called the Gentle Leader. This collar buckles around the dog’s neck with nylon cords that fit across his nose. The basic idea of the collar is that it uses the nose as a control and correction focus. Where the dog’s nose goes, the rest of him is sure to follow. A similar training collar is called the Halti collar. It works much like the Gentle Leader, except it pulls the dogs head to one side. Animals, as a general rule do not like to go forward with their heads to one side or the other, so the tug of the head controls the dog.
The Theory behind Clicker Training
Operant Conditioning is the name given to the way that an animal interacts and learns from its environment. This applies to any animal including human beings. Put simply, it means that they will repeat an action that results in a positive consequence and not repeat an action that results in a negative consequence. This principle can be applied to the training of your dog in both ways. If you reward the dog, he will do it again. This is positive reinforcement. If you punish the dog, he won’t do it again. This is punishment.
Most training professionals suggest positive reinforcement or reward as the better method of training. In either case, the problem is that the dog does not understand English, and so you can not sit him down and have a long talk explaining the reason for the reward or the need for punishment. The only way either is effective or understood by the dog is if it takes place at fairly close to the exact time the behavior takes place.
If you tell your dog to sit and he does so, you can not then run into the house for a dog treat and expect him to associate the treat with the behavior. Many trainers feel even the short delay in getting the treat out of your pocket and into his mouth might be too long for true positive operant conditioning to take place.
The solution is to find a conditioned reinforcer. This is something that the animal would not normally consider as a good consequence and would not work to receive. A primary reinforcer is the food or treats that the dog would be willing to work to receive. So, the conditioned reinforcer is coupled with the positive reinforcer and in the dogs mind they become equal. This is where the clicker comes into play. A clicker is a tiny metal toy that makes a clicking noise when pressed and released. It is the toy that used to be called a cricket. At the same time that the click is sounded, the dog is given a treat. When this has been done for a length of time, the dog will associate the click with the treat. The conditioned reinforcer has become a primary reinforcer. In other words, the click has become a reward.
Train your dog to walk on a leash
For a new puppy or an aged dog, pulling on a leash can be one of the worst and most difficult habits to break. Dogs naturally get extremely excited to be outside, going for a walk, taking a hike, or whatever the activity may be. With time and persistence, your dogs leash pulling days will be over, and your arm will return to its socket, where it should be.
First and foremost, some puppies have a hard time adjusting to collars and leashes. Many will scratch them and refuse to move, while others ignore it and go on as if it were not there. For new puppies and adults alike, it is important to have a one-length leash rather than a retractable one for training. Training your dog not to pull on a leash is much more likely to be accomplished if he does not have free reign to pull as he pleases.
When you are preparing for your walk, ensure that your dog is sitting and calm before putting on his leash. If he starts out excited, he will remain that way and it will be difficult to calm him down. Even if you must stand for five minutes waiting for your dog to stop jumping up and down, he will soon realize that you are not going anywhere until he sits. Once he calms down, reward him for his good behavior, and continue on your way. It is important to do this each and every time you take your dog out, whether it is for a walk or simply to go to the bathroom.
Dog Training Equipment
In order to determine the proper equipment needed to help train a dog, you first must have a clear idea of just exactly what is going to be the goal of the training. To train a dog simply to be a good household pet is not going to require an excessive amount of special equipment, but to train the dog to be a K-9 attack dog or seeing-eye dog is going to require quite a bit more. The basics for training include the collar and the leash. Most novice pet owners do not take this as serious as they should and tend to select a collar more for its visual appeal than for its training potential.
There are several varieties of collars designed for training. They range from simple snap-on collars to sophisticated electric collars. A general rule of thumb for training collar selection is to select the gentlest collar that accomplishes the goal. Several types of collars, including choke collars and prong collars can cause harm to the dog if not used properly and by an experienced trainer. The leash is another basic equipment item that is often carelessly selected. The leash is the connection between you and your animal and a little investment in the proper size and style of leash for your particular training needs will pay off handsomely.