Puppies and Pooches: How We Train
We’re delighted you’re here! Our goal for our training is to help you build a great relationship with your dog or puppy while you both learn how to communicate with one another more effectively.
How we Train.
We reward what we like.
We ignore what we don’t like.
Unless it’s an urgent matter of safety we ignore behavior that we don’t like. Learning theory tells us that behavior which is rewarded (reinforced) will become more frequent, while behavior which is not rewarded will become less frequent. Oftentimes simply saying “no” in response to a behavior that we don’t like is so reinforcing for our dog that the undesirable behavior becomes more frequent—just exactly what we don’t want. If a behavior is becoming stronger or more frequent, be a detective and figure out what is reinforcing the behavior.
We train a desirable alternative.
In addition to rewarding what we like, and avoiding inadvertently rewarding an undesirable behavior (see above) we train the behavior we would like to see, so that our dog develops number of desirable behaviors to use to meet their needs.
We use clickers to mark the behaviors we like, and follow the click with a tiny food reward. Our puppies and dogs come to quickly love the sound of the click because it predicts a yummy treat. They learn to work to earn clicks and treats. We also teach our pups a verbal marker because there will be times that we want to mark a behavior, but don’t have a clicker, or don’t have a spare hand to make a click!
We are generous and stingy.
We are generous with the number of click/treats, using a high rate of reinforcement to train a new behavior or strengthen an older one that needs brushing up. We are stingy with the size of our food treats, though! A treat the size of a small pea or half Cheerio is plenty. It is the frequency of reward that moves training forward.
We practice success.
We set the difficulty of whatever we are training at a level where our dogs will succeed, rather than setting the difficulty too high so that they fail. In a training model which involves setting the dog up to fail (or “misbehave”) so that they can be “corrected” (punished) the dogs may learn specific behaviors to fluency, but they become less willing to try new behaviors, and the relationship of trust between dog and human can be damaged or broken. We want to help our canine best friends to practice a successful behavior on which we can build, gradually raising the bar, and creating a great relationship at the same time.