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5 easy steps to a better and happier future with your sanity intact…
- -“Sit” As Default Behaviour. “Sit” is one of the first behaviours we teach. Even after the dog knows it well we reinforce “sit” so heavily that it becomes his “default behaviour” – what he does when he doesn’t know what else to do. Teach your dog to sit by holding a treat at the end of his nose and moving it slowly back a few inches –while saying sit - , clicking / treating / rewarding when his bottom touches ground.
Alternatively, shape the behaviour by treating/ rewarding for a slightly lowered hind end until we have a touchdown, and/or reward for random offered sits. Then shape longer sits. If he already knows sit, start reinforcing it every time he does it until he sits for anything and nothing. When you have installed “sit” as his default, things like the “Wait” exercises (below) and “Go wild and freeze” happen very easily.
- -Wait. “Wait” is especially useful for dogs that are short on impulse control. I teach it using food bowls and doorways. “Wait” then easily generalizes to other situations.
- -Wait for Food: With your dog sitting at your side, tell him to “Wait.” Hold his bowl (with food in it) chest-high, then move it towards the floor about 5cm. If your dog stays sitting, reward and feed him a treat from the bowl as you raise it back up to your chest. If your dog gets up, say “Oops!” and ask him to sit again. If he gets up several times in a row, you’re asking for too much too soon; lower the bowl in smaller increments.
If he remains sitting, lower the bowl a few centimetres again, and reward and treat for his continued sitting. Repeat several times until he consistently remains sitting as you lower the bowl. Gradually move the bowl closer to the floor with succeeding repetitions until you can place it on the floor without your dog getting up. Finally, place the bowl on the floor and tell him to eat. After he’s had a few bites, lift the bowl up and try again. Repeat these steps until you can easily place the bowl on the floor and he doesn’t move until you give him permission.
Caution: If your dog guards resources such as his food bowl, consult with a qualified positive behaviour professional before trying this exercise.
- -Wait at the Door: With your dog sitting at your side, tell him to “wait.” Reach for the doorknob. If he doesn’t move, reward and treat. Repeat this step several times. Then jiggle the doorknob. Reward him for not moving. Repeat this step several times. Slowly open the door a crack. Again, reward and treat if he doesn’t move, and repeat. Gradually open the door farther, an inch or two at a time. Do several repetitions at each step, with reward and treats each time.
Eventually you’ll walk all the way through the door, stop, and face your dog, without having him move. Wait a few seconds, click, then return and give him a tasty treat. Of course, occasionally you’ll actually give him permission to go out the door!
Try variations of “Wait at the door” at your pets pen and kennel or your backyard gate before going out for a walk. With the dog on the inside and human on the outside, reach for the latch. If he jumps up, pull your hand away. If he sits, continue with the gate-opening process. Each time he jumps up, the process stops. If he exercises self-control the gate opens and he earns his freedom.
5. - Rinse and repeat: do all of the above, over, and over, and over again. 10 minutes a day will keep bad behaviour at bay.
By using a combination of exercises, training, and management you can be sure you will have a long and happy tail wagging life together with your beloved pet.
For more training excersises, click HERE