Easy Activity – Simple Training Tips

Improving your dog's behavior ... without really trying.

During the Covid shut-downs, we regularly posted ideas to do with your dog at home.  This article is about using every-day tasks to get calm behavior without spending any extra time in “formal” training sessions.

Train better behavior in 3 easy steps:

The steps:

  1. Get it: Start by getting your dog to offer the behavior.  We’ll offer suggestions for starting each behavior.
  2. Mark it: The moment—the instant—your dog has performed the behavior, mark it with “yes” or “good” in a neutral tone of voice.  Don’t sound overly excited – just calmly mark the moment that is about to receive reinforcement.
  3. Reward/Reinforce it: After you mark the behavior, reinforce it:
    1. With a food treat … or
    2. With something else reinforcing
      1. Example: Mark your dog when s/he sits by the door and open the door to the yard.

Environmental Training:  Environmental training is teaching your dog to offer behaviors based on your every-day interaction.  Here are two examples of easy-to-achieve behaviors.

Sit for Dinner: 

  • Get it: Hold your dog’s dish close to your body about waist high and stand still.  Wait for your dog to sit.
  • Mark it: The instant your dog’s rear hits the floor, mark with “yes” or “good” then
  • Reinforce it: Put your dog’s dish on the floor and let him eat in peace.

Watch for:  If your dog jumps up while you’re holding the dish, utter a calm “Unh” and turn away.  Turn back and repeat as above.  Otherwise ignore undesirable behavior and be ready to mark the one you want. 

Sit at the Door:

  • Get it: Wait by the door with your dog and look at him/her with a neutral expression.  Just wait.
  • Mark it: The moment your dog sits, say “yes” or “good.”
  • Reinforce it: Then open the door and let your dog out

Watch for:  If your dog jumps up on the door, calmly say “unh” and move away a foot or two.  Then return to the door and repeat above.

This was originally published as “All Dogs Alchemy”:  Ideas to help get through the Covid quarantine.

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