How to
a Dog
How to train a dog Excerpted from CATS AND DOGS, LIVING WITH AND
Frania Shelley-Grielen. All rights reserved. Posted with permission of the author. No part
of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the author.

How do you train a dog? How do you get a dog to sit politely without barking
when the doorbell rings or not jump up on the guests coming through the door?
How about keeping a dog from snatching food off the table or out of the
garbage? Or walking next to you without pulling to get ahead? Or all the other
things you would like the dog to do? Where do you begin? You’ve heard all this
stuff about how you are supposed to be the one in charge of the dog, the leader,
the alpha in the pack but do you really want to stare down a puppy? And does
all that even make sense to a dog?

Teaching your dog manners for a human dominated world requires understand-
ing the species you are working with. The dog has many canine behaviors,
preferences and disinclinations that are perfectly typical, acceptable and
necessary in a dog’s world. Take jumping up on people, this is dog greeting
behavior, a fine way to say hello for a dog. So too is making the most of the
opportunity to grab a bite from the table or the garbage and that pulling is
only natural when you have four legs which move you faster than people with
two legs. These and other natural behaviors are dogs being dogs and not trying
to be in charge of humans. We might also bear in mind that much of the natural
behaviors of dogs are behaviors that we have bred for such as barking for
alerting us to danger or the chasing and stalking we have selected for in
working dogs. And while dogs are a social species to begin with we have also
actively recruited for amiability towards humans. This amiability creates a
receptive audience to learn from us. That dogs like us is a wondrous thing,
truly it is. Their apparent non stop eagerness to please lends itself to making
us believe they understand everything we ask of them. Would that it would
be so! If only we could just explain to them what we want and then have them
do exactly that. But dogs, no matter how much they like us, no matter how
co-evolved, do not come to us speaking human language and while we teach
our infants and children words, then phrases, then sentences and then letters
that make up these words, phrases and sentences we expect our dogs at every
age to know those human words, phrases and sentences along with all manners
of things they have never been taught.

So how then do you teach this dog that never went to school? You allow for
natural behaviors, show them what you want, make sure they know how to do
what it is you are asking for and when they get it and even when they almost
get it, reinforce it and make sure to make the process; this learning, a
meaningful and pleasant one. You also want to manage the environment to
set everyone up for success. Things like, no more uncovered trash cans in the
kitchen or food left out in dog reach and where the best place is to begin to train
with the least distractions for the both of you.

Let’s look at barking. Asking a dog to stop barking denies the natural behavior
and need to alert humans and others in the environment through barking.
Ignore the alert and the dog continues as the alert has not been effective, a sort
of “Did you hear me???”, “The stranger is still at the door!,” “the other dog is
still across the street,” the cat is still on the fence,” “I am still home and not sure
when you are ever coming back!!!,” the list goes on. For this sort of barking
issue; instead of reacting to the bark with your own barking (what might
yelling sound like to a dog, hmmm?) first acknowledge the bark. Use the dog’s
name and one or two other words to signal an affirmative on the alert being
received, such as “Fido, yes I know.” Or “Thank you Fido.” Now ask for “quiet”
or “shush.” You can begin to train these commands by offering a high value
treat directly in front of a barking dog’s nose. The barking will stop because
the dog will sniff the treat, the very instant the barking stops offer the treat
and say “good quiet” or “good shush” in a happy and excited voice so the dog
can begin to learn this thing they just did goes along with that word you just
said, a treat and a happy owner. Know that, barking and sniffing cannot
happen simultaneously so offering the treat at that moment marks the
quiet behavior you want (it does not reward the barking).

First ask clearly: get the dog’s attention that a request is coming by alerting
the dog with the use of their name and then ask for the request. Remember, the
dog’s name is not the request. Too often when we work with our dogs we repeat
their name over and over again in an effort to get them to do something, “Fido!
Fido! Fido” never translates to “Fido. Sit.” As much as you may believe that
your dog knows what you would like him to do he needs clear direction and

Next, once you see the response go ahead and let the dog know that
what they are doing is exactly what you are asking for,
this is where
your marking the behavior verbally comes in. Be careful not to ask again and
again for a behavior when it has already been offered. If you asked for a sit and
your dog is sitting say “Good Sit!” repeatedly rather than “Sit!, Sit!, Sit!”
repeatedly.  Again, this is common trainer error, so thinking ahead on what
not to do helps everybody with clear communication.

Lastly, reinforce it meaningfully both time wise and value wise for the
Real life rewards that are valuable to the dog offered at the moment the
behavior happens are the best insurance that the behaviors will reoccur on
request. We are trying to link the behavior offered and the request in a world
where many, many things are happening at the same time. We have mere
seconds to associate the requested behavior and the request. Breaking things
down clearly for the dog and for you makes for successful training. Reinforcing
the behaviors you are asking for with good salient-to-your-dog rewards like
high value food treats, loving praise, petting and play is the most effective
way to teach requests and proof responses to them.  Amp the reinforcement
value for the performed behavior by offering multiple treats in rapid succession.
Once you have a solid response you can always offer a“Good  __________!”
Both to acknowledge  the behavior and for positive reinforcement.

In training and in life, keep treats in your repertoire, offering a reward on an
intermittent basis has the greatest effect, so keep them coming. You will want to
use smaller sized treats as opposed to bigger ones, they are easier to handle and
the dog will enjoy a little bite just as much as the larger one they seem to inhale
and with less to chew on, be readier sooner for what’s coming up next.

When your dog performs the behavior requested mark it so it can be
associated with the command.
Some people like using a clicker to mark
behaviors. For others a clicker is cumbersome, an additional thing to do in the
instant you need to identify the desired behavior. Find what works for you and
use it. I can say “Good Sit!” to mark sitting so much faster than I can click. With
training timing is everything. We are working with dogs here who process more
information (think of how much more they can smell and hear) much faster
(dogs have the ability to process visual information up to 80 cycles per second
compare to our 60 cycles per second) than humans do to begin with. Add to
the speed required to pair a request (and a symbol when you add in hand
signals), a response and the need to impart significance to it.

Do allow for response time. The dog is learning here so do permit some time
for them to figure it out or to switch gears if they are otherwise engaged. A dog that
is standing needs time to move into a sit or a down while larger and older dogs may
need even more time.  The need for perfect timing is on the human side of the
equation here not the dog.

Work up to more distracting environments. You may get consistent results each
and every time in your kitchen and living room with food treats and radio silence in
the park. Perfectly natural, you don’t have squirrels, other dogs and the like at
home to compete for your dog’s focus. Expect that an environment that has much
to interest a dog will demand attention and up your engagement level, rewards
and more manageable areas of the environment to practice training in. Work on
things you already have a solid response to indoors and once you begin to get a
response outdoors praise handsomely and/or treat repeatedly and do minimal
repetitions with frequent breaks for play to insure success and keep training fun.
It is so much better to have your dog perform one sit behavior outside than have
you ask repeatedly for another one that is not forthcoming.

Do not initially expect your dog to know what to do, show them. For example:
“Sit” is great for focusing your dog, becomes a canine "please" (you'll see), works on
impulse control and keeps them in one spot but your dog does not know that the
word “sit” means put your butt on the floor. With a standing dog, work on teaching
sit by getting your dog’s attention first. Call their name to get the focus on you,
saying “sit” use a treat to lure your dog into position. Do this by holding the treat
just over the nose pulling it back over the head. As the dog moves his head to follow
the treat you are holding over his nose his hind quarters will drop on to the floor in
a sitting position. As soon as the dog is sitting mark the behavior with a “Good Sit!”
while giving the treat at the same time. If the dog jumps up you are holding the
treat too high and actually luring the dog into a jump as it attempts to follow the
treat. You may also lure a dog into a jump unintentionally if you jerk your hand
upwards once the dog sits rather than releasing the treat.  Treating the dog in
these scenarios is fine since the dog is following the lure; just remember to only
mark the behavior once you get it.

Avoid placing your dog into a requested position. This is confusing for all dogs and
painful for those dogs with hip and back issues. Luring your dog into place with a
food treat gets the dog to accomplish the movement on his own individually, a
necessary act to proof it and repeat it without your assistance.

Teaching your dog how to roll over or shake paws or play dead can be a fun and
bonding experience for the both of you so if you are both willing to learn how, go
ahead. The basics that you want to incorporate for safety and structure are those
commands that will keep your dog with you or away from something or coming
back to you, so work on fundamentals first like “sit”, “stay”, “leave it” or “off ”
and a recall command such as “come”, crucial to keep your dog coming back to
you whether at the park or on the street corner.

When asking for “come” it is vital to remember that this is a request best
trained in a happy and excited tone and never a punishing one. (Refrain
from using this request to place your dog in an area of confinement
such as
a crate or kennel; use instead something like “go to your crate.”) To train “come”
you need to be an excited, happy force to return to. Seriously, you want your dog to
want to come to you not be afraid of what you will do when he gets there. Clap your
hands, call the dog’s name and ask for “come,” repeatedly all in that jolly training
voice. Do this either while dropping down to a crouch or take a few steps
backwards away from the dog.  As the dog begins to  approach encourage and
reinforce mightily saying “Good Come!!!” and offer a reward the microsecond your
dog arrives. Asking for a sit once a dog has returned to you is a nice way to keep
him with you. It is also a good time to release your dog with a “Go Play!” to
further emphasize all the wonderful things that happen when you learn and
perform the “Come” behavior.

Teaching counterpart commands back to back is particularly effective in
training; such as “off” and “take it” and “come” and “go play.”
The requests
reinforce each other. Remember to reward enthusiastically for a response and to
avoid reprimands especially once a behavior is performed. If a dog hesitates on a
recall but responds to a repeated request never scold the dog for not coming
quickly enough. The scolding only serves to actually punish the dog for finally
listening to the request. Praise and treats are in order instead. And more practice
and more releases.

Never forget that lectures work with people and not dogs, as much as you
would like to go into all the reasons why lunging at other dogs is wrong,
your dog simply cannot follow the argument.
 All that your dog will know is
they stopped lunging way back before you started on the lecture making the lecture
an unrelated event. Way better to pair your short correction with the lunge. As to
corrections, try for an “Off!” or a few sharp syllables here in lieu of a “No!!!” which
tends to be too heavily loaded with negative sentiment. (For those occasions that
may require them, know when and how to use time outs appropriately. See
How to Use Time Outs” .)  

Correction requires redirection too. When you have properly acknowledged your
“Now!” The volume of your tone serves as a correction and the single syllable keeps
it from being overly punishing. When the dog responds with the quiet, reinforce
and reward to keep this behavior occurring on request. Always, always follow with
a redirection -give them something else to do instead, hopefully something just as
good from the dog point of view.  Be proactive in seeing when a scenario is ripe for
a break from the behavior being requested and a redirection is in order. If the doorbell
rang but the guest has not yet entered your home getting the quiet from the onset is
step one, next give your dog something else to do—redirection—such as “sit” or “go
get your ball” or “go to your bed.” Make sure to reward that too.

Train often for best results. Keep your training technique going and your
dog responding by practicing on a consistent basis.  A trained dog needs to be
continually trained to stay that way.  I teach a course in Manhattan’s financial
district right next to the New York Stock Exchange. Highly trained explosive sniffing
dogs work with handlers in this area. Field exercises with my students often include
observing these canine human teams at work. We have been fortunate in being able
to speak with some of the handlers and interact with the dogs at times; hearing
about ongoing training for these ‘sniffer” dogs surprises some of the students.
Target scents are hidden 15 to 20 times on each dog’s shift in order to keep the
dog sharp and yes, the dogs get rewarded for finding the targets. Even bomb
sniffing dogs have to practice every day.

Buy at least one good dog training manual and read it. Great for you and your
dog if you are considering training classes. Research the best ones offering positive
reinforcement and read ahead. Even without the classes, the book is a must to get
you on the right track training wise. H
ow To Teach A New Dog Old Tricks by Dr.
Ian Dunbar is fabulous for all dogs and
Do Over Dogs: Give Your Dog a Second
Chance for a First Class Life
by Pat Miller is excellent for rehomed dogs or those in
need of remedial work. It is tremendously helpful to learn methods and techniques
for training your dog by learning from people who are highly qualified experts,
people who teach dogs without harming them or forcing them or using aversive
strategies to compel them to perform. Professionals such as Dr. Ian Dunbar,
Dr. Sophia Yin, Dr. Patricia McConnell, Suzanne Clothier, Karen Pryor, Pat Miller
and Victoria Stillwell are just some of the authorities who have written books
worth reading and appeared  on television shows, videos and seminars which
offer valuable instruction on dog training and learning theory.

Unfortunately there are also way too many example of how not to train your dog
as  well. Numerous examples of misguided dog training are rampant in countless
books, articles, websites, videos and television shows. Well meaning dog owners
new and old do the right thing and read up and research what is best for their dogs
and often run into the wrong information and apply it. With the best intentions
and looking for guidance, an owner may be told here to scruff or shake a dog into
submission, roll dogs over, pin them down, knee them in the chest, grab their
muzzles, strap electric shock collars on them and shock them, restrain their
movement and constrict their breathing with the painful pressure of choke
chains, prong collars and head halters and more all in the name of “training.”
This is torture not training. Poor dogs.

Some of these dominance based trainers call what they do “result based.” It is
certainly true that you can force any animal to do anything motivated by a
voiding punishment; you do get “results”.  Trainers who teach this way no doubt
believe their methods are the most effective ones, what they may not have
considered is the whole picture. Along with the results you do get is an animal
that is mostly afraid of the handler or if you are extraordinarily able with timing
you get an animal that is afraid of the handler and the punishment the handler
gives, who is stressed even by the appearance of the handler and training and
performing requested behaviors. Watch compulsion training, all that lip licking,
yawning, blinking and looking away is appeasement or “please stop” there is no
such thing for a dog as “calm submissive.” Along with your results you will also
need to increase your punishment to get the same response as the effect is short
lived as the animal habituates to the pain or accepts the pain as the price to pay
for a behavior they feel the need to perform. And then there will be those
displacement behaviors or anxieties which will start to appear in other areas like
breaks in house training or displays of fearful aggression. The American Veterinary
Society of Animal Behavior (AVSAB) notes that: “Even when punishment seems
mild, in order to be effective it often must elicit a strong fear response, and this fear
response can generalize to things that sound or look similar to the punishment.
Punishment has also been shown to elicit aggressive behavior in many species of
animals. Thus using punishment can put the person administering it or any
person near the animal at risk of being bitten or attacked.” As to the dominance
theory those result based trainers usually espouse, the AVSAB “recommends that
veterinarians not refer clients to trainers or behavior consultants who coach and
advocate dominance hierarchy theory and the subsequent confrontational
training that follows from it.”

Countless scientific studies support the effectiveness of positive dog training
compared to compulsion training or the use of aversive training methods. Along
with the AVSAB, myriad organizations which promote animal welfare, “positive”
trainers and behaviorists support this position. Yet compulsion dog training
continues and oftentimes the participants and viewers are unaware that what
they are doing and watching is cruel, inhumane and just plain wrong.

AVSAB Position Statement The Use of Punishment for Behavior Modification in Animals. statements/Combined Punishment Statements
1-25-13. pdf Retrieved December 1, 2013

AVSAB Position Statement on the Use of Dominance Theory in Behavior Modification of
Animals. statements/dominance statement.pdf
Retrieved December 1, 2013

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Approaching a dog from the side is the best approach
Copyright Frania Shelley-Grielen
Frania Shelley-Grielen is a Masters Level Expert in Animal Behavior
212-722-2509 / 646-228-7813

Website copyright Frania Shelley-Grielen
"Asking a dog to stop barking
denies the natural behavior
and need  to alert humans
and others in the environment
through  barking. Ignore the
alert and  the dog continues
as the alert has not been
effective, a sort of  “Did
you hear me???”, “The
stranger is still at the
door!,” “the other dog is
still across the street,” the
cat is still on the fence,” “I
am still home and not sure
when you are ever coming
back!!!,” the list goes on. For
this sort of barking issue;
instead of reacting to the
bark with your own barking
(what might yelling sound
like to a dog, hmmm?)."
Ask me about training your dog
Copyright Frania Shelley-Grielen
"Some people like using a clicker
to mark behaviors. For others a
clicker is cumbersome, an
additional thing to do in the
instant you need to identify the
desired behavior. Find what
works for you and use it. I can
say “Good Sit!” to mark sitting
so much faster than I can click.
With training timing is every-
thing. " is a participant in the Amazon
Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate
advertising program designed to provide a means
for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and
linking to

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