Apr 11

I Taught My Dog What?

What is the "best" way to train your dog? There seems to be so much confusion these days regarding the most effective training methods. Many people who contact me are looking for more than just training with treats but they do not want to go back to correction only based training.


So what is the best way to teach our dogs? The interesting thing about dogs is that they are CONSTANTLY learning from us, even when we don't realize it!  I met our guest blogger, Jeanne Perciaccanto, the owner of Ultimate Dog Training, on Roger Hild's email list called Return to Common Sense. Jeanne is really an expert in "thinking dog". I wanted to share with you one of her articles that may bring you a "light bulb moment". Don't all of us love to read nuggets of wisdom that we can use for a lifetime?  Enjoy!   Melanie

Trained Disobedience

Our dogs are very smart!  They learn from everything we do with them, good or bad.

So what is trained disobedience?

People think of training as stopping a dog from doing something. "I'm going to stop them from jumping up, or stop them from stealing food off of the counter!"  In other words, they are going to correct their dogs into being good and do the right things by waiting for the dog to be bad.

Unfortunately his form of interaction actually teaches your dog how and when to be bad and more importantly, how, where and when they do not need to listen to you.

Correction in place of teaching puts the dog into the vague space of time, between effectively redirecting the dog's action and the brief time period just prior to doing this. It is that brief space of time that the dog is actually leaning from. Once they can self-reward, nothing else you do will matter!

Let's look at a dog that is stealing food from the counter. Getting the food is a self-producing reward for the dog. They aren't looking to have a leisurely meal, but to gobble down whatever they can steal as fast as possible!

So you place the roast on the counter to prepare for dinner. The phone rings and you answer it. The dog, seeing an opportunity, grabs for the meat off the counter. You turn around and start yelling at the dog to stop, get down, drop it, NO! NO! NO!   As you are yelling, you head towards the dog as quickly as possible to get them off the counter and away from the food!

This is what your dog has learned from this encounter. When you are away from them, you cannot stop them from getting up on the counter. When you are away from them, you cannot stop them from getting up on the counter. When you are distracted with something, you won't see your dog get up on to the counter. As soon as you start to yell, there is only a certain amount of time before you can stop them from getting the food. So your dog learns that NO means, grab the food as fast as possible. This is trained disobedience!  You are teaching your dog how much time, space and opportunity it has to do what it wants and get the reward. Your dog has not learned NOT to steal, but rather how FAST to steal and the prime opportunities in which to do so!

A favorite Thanksgiving story about food stealing is:  A house full of guests, turkey just out of the oven and cooling on the counter. The wife goes to the door to greet company as they arrive at the house. She hears noises from the kitchen and heads out there to see what is happening. There is her one year old dog, with his head stuck inside a 22 pound turkey. To extricate himself from the bird he proceeds to bang in to the cabinets, refrigerator and tries to drag the stuck trukey on the floor to remove it from its precariously perched position.

If you know your dog has a propensity towards doing something you would like it to stop, you need to teach the dog how to behave properly in those situations. Spending time teaching your dog how to be good is much more effective than waiting for them to seize the opportunity.

The author, Jeanne Perciaccanto, is the owner of Ultimate Dog Training, www.ultimatedogtraining.com.

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