Home » ABCs of Learning
Category Archives: ABCs of Learning
Some folks like listening instead of watching or reading here is a short podcast that I like on: “how to stop bad behavior on walks” & why these methods work in the long run better than just yelling and jerking on the leash.
Source: The Dog Trainer : How to Get Your Dog to Stop Barking and Lunging on Leash : Quick and Dirty Tips ™
Great video for all dog owners, not just for puppies!!
Dr Dunbar and his team discuss the idea of teaching our puppies by turning training into a game. They also refer to several games that have online instructions listed by the trainer’s name or the name of the task.
One behavior that dogs and humans have in common is the desire to play throughout our adult lives. Most other animals stop playing as they reach adulthood. So here I will write about the benefit of play in dog learning.
We often want dogs to do skills/behaviors that make no sense to them. So of course we use food as a reward to motivate puppies. When we turn the training lessons into games, the dog experiences training as fun puzzle games, that they get to do with family. The more fun the training, the more your dog will love training and the more they remember
For example, my dog Leo loves training sessions, especially when he is learning new skills that are challenging for him. I can tell when he is really into it because he takes the treats and spits them on the ground quickly to be ready for the next thing.
Let me go through benefits of games on learning using the example game I call “GO-FIND-IT.”
The most immediate benefit for puppy owners is that mental exercise is more fatiguing than physical exercise. On days when the weather is bad, I often teach Leo new skills in place of outdoor exercise. As just a 3 year old adolescent dog, he becomes more tired after 20 minutes of learning puzzle games compared to a full hour of physical running. When he was a puppy it was more like 5 – 10 minutes of puzzle time. This is a very good way to help a puppy sleep through the night.
Instructions for”Go- find-it.” (Be sure to run the words together to make the cue into one long word). Begin by hiding a favorite Toy in plain site, allow the dog to watch you place the Toy under a chair or other easy to get to place. Most puppies will go pick it up or follow you while you hide it. Exchange the Toy for a food treat after the dog has it solidly in their mouth. Reward with food for each find. Repeat hiding the Toy in the same room and in easy places about 10-15 times before moving on to more difficult hiding places, like under a pillow. Once the dog catches on to the game you can replace the food reward with a short “Tug on Toy” play. Puppy will be ready to go pick it up after a quick bit of play. It will be easier for the pup to give up the Toy each time if the dog already knows “Leave it”. Next level of difficulty is to have puppy in sit-stay, while you quickly hide the Toy just out of sight. Increase the variety & difficulty of hiding places as pup learns to find it more quickly.
Leo loved this game and would race to find the Toy. He would come back prancing, tossing the toy up & catching it in the air as he returned to me.
The game uses a combination of actions to increase learning.
1. Action: The wait at a sit until I said the cue words; “go-find-it”.
Learning: Sit-Stay and practicing impulse control, longer sounds are cues.
2. Action: search for his Toy.
Learning: Frustration tolerance, Search behaviors & Pay attention to the environment.
This basic skill can be used to teach: “GO-find-Dad” & Go-find-Kitty”, Go-find-Billy.
3. Action: Object pick up, hold in mouth, and return with the Toy and give up the Toy.
Learning: all skills for solid retrieve in sporting dogs & service dogs. Dogs don’t understand the idea of pick up, hold, bringing back objects at our request. Especially, the part of the game where they give their toy away. Game reinforces the whole sequence of skills for a good retrieve which is harder than we think. Many dogs who are not trained to retrieve, will run off with the object or pick it up and drop it until you retrieve it.
4. Action: repeating the game at increasing difficulty.
Learning: Reliability & speed
Leo quickly realized that he had to bring the Toy all the way to me. Plus, the quicker he brought the Toy back, the quicker he got to play the game again. All without any food rewards. Playing and having fun becomes a natural reward.
5. Action: Increased difficulty leads to longer and more area searched by the dog. If he came back quickly without the Toy I sent him out a second time, the third search I go with him and show him the location.
Learning: Problem solving, frustration tolerance, memory.
As the dog figures out the simple hiding places, increase the difficulty so the dog has to search more areas for the Toy. This teaches basic problem solving and frustration tolerance and important cognitive skills for dogs throughout life. One fun fact revealed by brain research into memory: The greater effort expended while learning, the better your memory becomes of the information learned.
All this from 10 to 20 minutes of fun for the two of us.
I see allot of behavior problems in dogs because their busy families don’t make time for daily social time with the dog. In our modern, commercial world, we believe we have a right to have it all. More and more pets are aquired like hobbies, chosen based on appearance and hair color, rather than personality, social and physical needs. Matching a family situation that is a good situation for the pet is not considered until after the first placement has failed. Children, younger than age 12 often beg for a a puppy and get to them including choosing the breed or individual pup. children younger than 12 will within 1 -2 months move on to another interest. The family dog is stuck in yard or house alone all day, treated like the motorcycle or sports car, stored away until the weekend when the weather is good, ready and waiting in good working order for the road trip. But, dogs are like people, highly social creatures. They need allot of social time from their families every day of their lives. And like children they require a prolonged puppyhood and adolescent period of social education for brain development and to acquire all the information and behaviors needed to make it in the complex human world like ours. Watch the Video for 4 tips that will help your dog have a happy life.
If you liked part 1, you’ll find even more interesting information in this video.
This is simply a great video to start understand your dog.
How to Train your Dog to NOT PULL on a Leash! EXTREME LEASH PULLING, BARKING, LUNGING and JUMPING! – YouTube
The important points to remember from this video below are
- be patient.
- Help the dog learn to focus on you before the trigger gets him out of control.
- The handler learns the dogs distance from the triggers that set him off. In this dogs case many things in the environment trigger the dog into excitement mode, especially trees. So the handler has to work with the dog very close to the beginning of the walk, so be it. watch as the dog get calmer with repeated attempts.
- This is the type of training is when allot of food is effective. The tree containing squirrels are really, really exciting for a dog. So you have to become more exciting than a squirrel and the next better thing is usually food. Really yummy food. like chicken, lunchmeat or cheese. This method is called “counter conditioning”. The “conditioning” happened automatically when the dog learned to lung and bark at trees because some really fun stuff happened. To make staying with you on a polite walk a new habit, you have to make you more appealing then the fun of his learned doggie game of lunging/barking at trees. The process of doing it is called “counter-conditioning”. It takes a long time usually months of practice for a dog to give up an old habit and replace it with the new behavior you want