Introduction to training

On this page you will find what you need to know about the key factors in being successful with training, how to start clicker training, how to give proper corrections, and more. 

Training can be so much fun and so rewarding. It builds an unbreakable bond between you and your pet. Training starts at an early age, but you can start training at any age. Old dogs CAN learn new tricks. 

Here are some tips to help you get started. if you have any other questions please feel free to call/text us 830.342.0820 and we will be happy to help. 

If you are looking to hire a trainer to come in and help with specific behavior issues please visit the Dog Training referrals page.

Key Factors in being successful with training 

The three most important factors to be successful in training are timing, consistency, and motivation 

Timing 

Consistency 

Motivation 

Did you know dogs have 1.3 SECONDS to associate a cause with an effect? 

whether its a good behavior or bad behavior you have a split second to let them know "yes continue and i want to see that again" or "no stop what your doing and do not do this again".

you have to catch them in the act for them to know if they are doing good or bad.  

Consistency is a big one. you have to be 100% consistent for your pup to learn. There is no grey area for dogs. Dogs like to gamble, so if they can get away with it once, they are going to try again and again. A rule is a rule no matter what.

Markers

Motivation is another big one. if you dont have the right motivation you wont get much from your dog. THEY decide what they want to work for. This goes both ways, positive and negative.

Positive motivation is used to get a behavior to happen again. This is marked with a clicker or a word(such as Yes or Good). This can be a favorite treat, food, toy, or petting/affection. 

 

Negative motivation is used to get a behavior to stop. This is marked with a no and followed by a leash correction or the dog is removed from the situation/something is taken away. 

A marker is a way to bridge the time between the behavior and consequence. It helps give you more time to get a treat out to reward them. Markers can be positive and negative. 

Positive markers are to let them know they are doing the correct behavior. It means you want this action to continue and to happen again. Positive markers can be a click, or a word(usually a yes). A positive marker is always, always, always followed with a reward. When you mark with a yes/click you are making a promise that something good is coming. Mark the behavior first then follow with a reward. 

A negative marker is to let them know they did the wrong behavior or doing something they shouldn't be doing. It means you want them to stop what they are doing and you dont want it to happen again. Negative markers can be a no or an "eh-ah" noise. A negative marker is always,always, always followed with a correction(usually a leash pop). When you mark with a no/"eh-ah" you are making a promise that consequences are coming. Mark the behavior first then follow with a correction. 

Clicker Training 

The clicker is an amazing tool for teaching new behaviors and encouraging your dog's enthusiasm. Think of a click like taking a picture. A click captures a moment your dog does something really cool that you want them to keep doing! We should be clicking AS our dogs do what we like. Even a slight delay of 1 second can be taking a picture of a behavior other than what we intended. Just remember, every time we click we're making a promise of food. If we don't follow every click with food, we're breaking that promise. Don't be surprised if once you click, your dog stops the behavior you were so happy to see. A click is like saying "You did it!" You can almost expect them to stop what they were doing to come get a treat once they hear the click. Still give them the food. Clicker training is a great way to build small behaviors to be something bigger.

Release Cue

A release cue is to let your dog know they are free to be a dog again. They no longer have to stay sitting, or heeling they can get up and do what they want. Common release cue words are Free, Okay, or Release. 

Training tip: We dont use the word stay, we replace it with using a release cue. For example: I'm walking with my dog in a heel and we stop and I tell her to sit then stay and start to walk away from her and she slides into a down. Am i going to correct her for breaking the sit? The last command i gave her was "stay" and she stayed where i told her to, but she also broke her sit, which is what i wanted her to stay in. Stay can be kind of confusing, I dont want to give a correction for her staying because she stayed in place. Using a release cue instead I'm able to walk with her, stop, have her sit then walk away and not worry about her breaking then come back tell her free and she knows she can get up from the sit. 

Correcting Correctly

We follow a 3 step process when adding corrections to training. A correction is a way of telling your dogs they've made a mistake and should fix themselves. Simply put, corrections provide motivation for your dog to not make a mistake. You should not get emotionally invested in a correction. Our dogs are constantly learning. If they make mistakes, it is because they don't know the expectation. Dogs do not act out of spite and neither should you.

  1. Mark A Mistake With No. "No" is a marker, just as the clicker is a marker. The clicker takes a picture of the moment your dog does something we like. "No" takes a picture of the moment your dog does something we don't like. The word itself is not a deterrent to stop a behavior. It's not meant to scare or intimidate your dog. There's no need to use a different tone when saying "no."No exclamation marks! No bold or CAPITAL text. No is no. Neutral. Bored. Just a word.

  2. Give A Quick, Guiding Tug. After a click there's always food. After "No" there's always a tug. Paired with leash tugs, your dog learns to avoid actions that result in the word "no." The tug provides motivation for your dog to not make that mistake again. It's not fun to feel the tug of the leash. It's uncomfortable and frankly quite annoying. It is not meant to hurt or scare your dog into following orders- simply motivation.Every time you say the word "no," follow it with a tug of the leash; even if your dog has already returned to the behavior you want. Dogs that learn that "No" just means to fix themselves learn to test boundaries.

  3. Try Again. Always repeat the command your dog should have been following. Give your dog the chance to do it right the second time. This helps clarify to your dog what appropriate behavior is. If your dog broke sit, remind "sit" after giving a tug.

Repeat steps 1 - 3 until your dog is back to appropriate behavior. Don't get discouraged if it takes a few tries. When in doubt, go back to constant leash pressure.

The 3 D's

As your dog learns new commands it important to build on the 3 D's

Distance

Once your dog learns a new behavior you can now add distance to let them know "sit" means sit whether im stand right in front of you or 20ft away. This is done on a gradual basis to set your dog up for success.

Duration

This is when you teach your dog the duration of the exercise will continue until given a different command or released from the command. this is done gradually for success. Start small, 5 seconds at a time and add 5 seconds as your dog understands what is being asked.  

Distraction

Practicing the known behavior under gradually increasing distractions. Start small, try crouching down or talking in a baby voice. gradually build to toys being tossed or other dogs/people walking by. 

Four Stages of learning

1.Showing

In this stage we are just showing the dog what we want them to do. We give them all the necessary information needed to preform a specific behavior. 

Example: to teach a dog to sit we start by pulling up on the leash and pushing down on their butt, we are placing them in that sit. 

2.Fluency

Next is letting the dog show us what they learned. We give them the opportunity to show us they understand what we are asking. 

Example: if you pull up on the leash and push down on their butt they are going to learn to sit down when they feel the pressure of the leash before you get a chance to push down on their butt. 

3.Generalization

In this stage we are just taking what they know and teaching them it means the same thing whether they are at home or at the park. You want to add more distraction and practice known behaviors in different places. Sit means sit no matter where you are. 

4.Maintenance 

Take the show on the road is a lifelong process. In order to maintain a response long term, reward randomly for desired/learned behaviors to continue. 

Equipment 

This is some common equipment to get started with. Its a great start to your tool box. We support all kinda of tools as long as they are used correctly. If you have any questions about a certain tool you dont see listed please reach out to us(text/call 830.342.0820), or a trainer who has knowledge on the tool 

Clicker

The clicker is an amazing tool for teaching new behaviors and encouraging your dog's enthusiasm. Think of a click like taking a picture. A click captures a moment your dog does something really cool that you want them to keep doing! We should be clicking AS our dogs do what we like. Even a slight delay of 1 second can be taking a picture of a behavior other than what we intended. Just remember, every time we click we're making a promise of food. If we don't follow every click with food, we're breaking that promise. Order clicker here

Treat Pouch

There can be a lot in your hands at once during training. A treat pouch helps by giving you one less thing to worry about holding. Food is very useful in training to teach our dogs why they want to do what we’re asking. We don’t want to keep interrupting training by having to walk back to our food supply every few minutes, and that’s where the treat pouch comes in! Your food supply can be clipped to your waistband where more treats are just a reach away. Order treat pouch here

Place Bed

A place bed is a bed we will use to teach the Place command. Place is a boundary stay that helps us enjoy the company of our dogs while they stay calm and out of the way. It's a great help when bringing in groceries or when company visits. Place can be taught on any dog bed, however those with clear boundaries are best.
For Place, elevated dog beds are best. Elevation is the clearest boundary there is; it's not something a dog comes off of by accident. There are several possibilities when looking for an elevated dog bed. Some are simple while others are stylish. Order place bed here

Slip Leash

A slip leash is a collar and leash in one. The neat thing about the slip leash is that the collar portion contracts as the leash end is pulled. This is helpful in training dogs, as they learn they are in control of the leash tension. Its best to start with a 6'ft leash. Order leash here

Long Line

As training continues, you'll want to be increasing the distance between you and your dog. You'll use long lines while practicing stays and teaching recalls. A long line is simply a long leash. This does not need to be a slip leash. We prefer 30 foot long lines. Longer are acceptable, but the longer the leash, the more difficult it is to manage. Rope long lines can be dangerous with fast-moving dogs. We prefer flat leashes made of nylon. However, any 30 foot line will do the job. Order long line here.