Introduction: Pet Behavior and Tricks
Having a dog is fun and can be a lot of work. But if that work is well spent it can really pay off on a well behaved dog. To start for some simple tricks you will need a dog and some type of treat. These are some basic steps to help build communication between you and your dog. And can build to some pretty neat tricks. So lets start with understanding how this works.
Step 1: Communication
So to start we need to understand a little bit about how dog thinks. A dog will like to to things that make them happy and not do things that they don't. Rewarding a dog can happen in many ways and that would be something that make a dog happy. This can be treats, actions (barking, chewing), praise, petting, and the list goes on. Dog will reward themselves when given the opportunity and this can often lead to bad behaviors. Chewing the table for an example could be they are board and so to entertain themselves they reward by chewing. When training typically goes to letting the dog know they can be rewarded but on your terms. By doing some simple conditioning you can get a dog to understand when you like their behavior. This is the first exercise to teach them word association. And remember it takes time to train.
Step 2: Word Association
What you will do is tell the dog yes and reward with a treat within one second of saying it. Every time the dog hears yes it will want to look at you because it will learn to expect a treat. The one second is so it is clear for what the dog is getting rewarded for. The word you choose doesn't have to be yes, but it does have to be consistently used. Good boy is another word and clickers are the equivalent in making with the treat. When your dog recognizes yes they will often look at you expectantly for a treat after you say it. If you have reached here everything else will come really easily.
Step 3: Luring
Once you have established a word to something you want and the dog understand it means they did good , you then can start teaching using luring. You will hold a treat in you hand where the dog can't get it but can smell it or lick at it and then slowly move it and make it where the dog will naturally want to do a sit or lay. (In the video I dropped a treat and this would be counter productive usually), This can take practice in finding what makes the dog do what you want them to. Once they have gotten close or done it you then reward them with a yes and treat using the one second rule. Repeat his action till the dog gets pretty good at whatever they are doing. It is a puzzle where you are trying to figure out how to make your dog understand what you want. Another example to get my dog to sit I actually had to get him to stand on his back paws before slowly lower the treat to get him to sit. Do not force them as this can often lead to negative expectations to the action and the dog may not want to do it. But this isn't to say that you can nudge them a little bit to get where you want the dog. Then you can move on to more word association.
Step 4: Naming Trick
Once you have established some trick and the dog is starting to get it, start saying the name of what you want them to be doing right as they are doing it and completing it all with a yes. This will start to associate the action with the word and because the dog know you reward that action they will start to get it. With some more practice a dog can easily do you trick on command. This can be accompanied by hand signals if you want as it helps establish another line of communication.
Step 5: Things to Avoid
While working through the first steps remember to have fun. A dog can tell if you are happy and often can't understand why you are mad. So never scold a dog for doing a trick wrong. There are thing you can do to let a dog know that isn't what you are looking for. No is often overused and people also tend to say it a lot. This can lead to a dog learning to ignore the word and not listen to you. Which also going into don't just keep saying the trick until the dog does it. It can lead to the dog ignoring the word because it is said often and not understanding. It takes time to learn what your dog needs to listen. You also will be building trust and a currency to what you say. When you ask the dog to sit it will listen because it know that it will be good. If you are scolding and not being consistent then a dog doesn't learn and it make things harder. so when they do something good be excited and happy and rewarding.
Step 6: Right Treats
What counts as a reward when rewarding a dog? Having touched of some already let look more into what make a dog happy. If the dog need to pee then the thing that is most rewarding is to just go. This is where you are potty training you want to teach them to self reward outside. Some dogs are hugely motivated by toys. You get a toy and you have the dog undivided attention. Make the do do the trick and reward with a toy. Some dog would find the reward with you telling them good dog and petting them. By using the treat that is bet suited for you dog will help motivate them so the want to do the reward. For my dog is is high food motivated I often take his food for a meal and just work with him to make him earn his food. He get so excited because not only food but he get the attention as well. Another thing he loves is milk jugs and or liter soda bottles. Each dog is unique and figuring out what drives him crazy and make him earn it.
Step 7: Right Here
By holding a treat in my hand and after the dog bumps my hand when I say Right here I reward with a treat. You then move the treat out of your hand and tell them the same thing and repeat the same actions. Once the dog how gotten the concept of you asked them to touch your hand and it will get a treat you can make it progressively harder by holding it higher, or on a chair. This has been useful when going to the vet and when need him someplace like a scale can have him go onto it because you tell him right here. This can the be used to get your dog where you want it and is useful when teaching a dog to jump. (Final step) When teaching a dog to heel also proves useful in helping them know where they are supposed to be.
Step 8: Up and Over
Start by either keeping you arm or a broom low where they can almost walk over it. Then tell them right here on the other side. If you use a couch or wall to make only one path to the other side where you are pointing it make it easier for the dog to know where to go after getting the dog to jump over begin the naming process of whatever you want. You can also use a treat to lure if you haven't taught them right here. Then apply it to different items. You can now say you have a dog that will jump through hoops!
Step 9: Tips and Tricks
There are many things that can add to you success in training a dog. Puppies are easily distracted and so tiring them out before a training session can help them keep focus. Not all dog are motivated by food and so finding something special for your dog can help a ton. Boiled chicken is my dogs favorite and for a while he wasn't motivated by treats. If you or your dog is getting frustrated go back to something it knows so the dog can feel successful and then try again later. Your environment plays a large role in keeping your dogs attention. Starting out where there is little to no distractions can make it a lot easier as your dog can be more inclined to listen. Keep working up to the next level and you can see a great trained dog that everyone can look at and be impressed.