The Right Foundation
A Good Trainer
Alvin Animal Clinic
2202 North Gordon Street
Alvin, Texas 77511
Phone: (281) 585-5183
Fax: (281) 824-1212
Training done well from the start makes the most efficient use of your time, and results in a dog with more consistent success and more confidence. The dog has a good time as do you, and you both look good doing it!
- The dog needs the right foundation to “learn to learn.” This includes the skills basic to almost all training, such as controlled walking with you and coming when called. The dog also needs socialization at the proper early life stages in order to be able to cope with work situations later.
- You need to develop as many ways of rewarding the dog as you can. These include food, games (retrieving is number one), physical stroking, praise, rides in the car, walks, time with a special toy, and particular things the dog likes or wants at that moment. Some dogs enjoy howling with you, for example, and some handlers find tug of war to be appropriate.
- Training that extends over a longer chronological time seems to create longer-lasting learning. One reason for this would be that the training experiences become connected in the dog’s brain with a greater variety of other experiences, such as changing seasons, different clothing on the humans, different times of day (example—early morning tracking in summer, afternoon tracking in winter), and many other differences we could never think to plan.
- Training requires an adequate number of repetitions of the experience for the particular dog. Some dogs require only a few repetitions, while others may require many. There are advantages to both. Obviously the one who requires fewer repetitions could be easier to train, but only if all the experiences you provide the dog in training are accurate.
- If you train badly, the dog will quickly learn the task differently than you intend. The dog who requires more repetitions will learn the task more slowly and you may get some chances to notice your mistakes and adjust the training before it becomes set in the dog’s habits.
With the right genetic gifts, a suitable belief system from good experiences, safe habits from skillful training, and a talented handler, something happens in many dogs that is beyond explanation. They learn to think, to make decisions, and to act responsibly as the handler’s agent when they are in possession of information the handler is not. We find examples of this in the guide dog with a blind handler and in the dog performing a scent task with substances that humans cannot detect.
This weeks Training Tips brought to you courtesy of VeterinaryPartner.com