Below is a quick refresher of some basic concepts before training starts this term.
Dogs like humans need to be given feedback on their performance. This needs to be timely and appropriate. Owners need to grasp the concept of voice tone. For example a happy yes and a grumpy no, will quickly signal to a dog if it is doing as required. If the owner doesn’t grasp this the dog will not perform as required. For example a dog that runs off to play with the owner saying in a nice chirpy voice what a naughty girl you are, will have no effect except to reinforce the running off.
For feedback to work the timing has to be just right, this is where the tennis ball exercise is good as owners only have a split second to get the timing right to praise their dog. If the timing is off the incorrect behaviour will be reinforced. For example if a dog runs up to bark at other dogs or strangers and the owner calls it back and rewards the coming back, what they have effectively done is reward the barking at other dogs. The dog needs to be given a behaviour incompatible with running off for example watch me and be rewarded when it looks at other dogs and doesn’t move.
Owners need to be proactive with their dogs especially in the early days until the neural pathways have been carved. So instead of waiting until the dog does an unwanted behaviour (i.e. owner being reactive) owners need to become a constant steam of interesting happenings, affection, games, obedience work, ball work, dummy work, hiding self, food and toys. If the dog offers a good behaviour without being asked then reward as it’s a great freebie!
Circles of control
All dogs have a circle around their owner where they feel connected and are easy to control. This circle can vary between owners in the same family. Its important that owners know roughly what their circle of control is so that they get the dog to come towards them when they are near the edge of this circle. Once a dog steps out of this circle and heads away from the owner the chances of recall become less . A good way to get customers to remember this is to say bottoms do not have ears.
Dogs do not transfer learning from one place to another easily. So its important that behaviours are practiced in different situations. Esp. with short 5 week courses if a behaviour has been mastered do not keep practising it unless the situation is new.