How to
train

a Dog
How to train a dog Excerpted from CATS AND DOGS, LIVING WITH AND LOOKING AT
COMPANION ANIMALS FROM THEIR POINT OF VIEW. Copyright © 2014 by 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 understanding
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 reinforcement.

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 dog. 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  
y
our 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 est 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” .)  
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
info@animalbehaviorist.us
212-722-2509 / 646-228-7813

Entire website copyright Frania Shelley-Grielen
"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
a
cknowledge the bark."
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. We are working with dogs
here who process more infor-
mation (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"
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 reinforce-
ment and read ahead. Even without the classes, the book is a must to get you on the right
track training wise. How 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 avoiding 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 extra-
ordinarily 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.

References
AVSAB Position Statement The Use of Punishment for Behavior Modification in Animals. http://avsabonline.
org/uploads/position statements/Combined Punishment Statements1-25-13. pdf Retrieved December 1, 2013

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