Raymer Family Dog Training News: August 2020

Raymer Family Dog Training has excellent news! As a dog training professional, I have always wanted to help as many dogs and their people as possible: to get better behavior results through training, and improve each dog’s well-being, while helping pet owners learn how to make life easier with their dogs. To accomplish this, we have a brand new program launching soon.

Canine Academy, a membership program, will include videos, written content, and the ability to ask questions when needed. Some of the great benefits are a more affordable program, the ability to register on a monthly basis to use as long as needed, and increased amount of new content over time. The original content includes the equivalent to Puppy 1, Puppy 2, Dog Obedience/Manners 1, Dog Obedience/Manners 2, and Tricks classes. We are working on adding Reactive Dog Behavior and Training 1 and 2 class materials in the future.

This should make our classes more accessible to adopters from animal shelters and rescues as well, which has always been a passion of mine.

Subscriptions to Canine Academy open on September 1, 2020.

By Dan Raymer

Transparency in Dog Training

This is an excellent video by the Academy for Dog Trainers illustrating the state of the dog training profession and how to choose a professional trainer that will help rather than hurt your dog.

Here is an example of appropriate answers to the three questions:

What exactly will happen to my dog when she gets it right?

Your dog will receive rewards to positively reinforce the behavior.

What exactly will happen to her when she gets it wrong?

Nothing, or the reward or opportunity to earn the reward will be removed for that specific trial.

Are there any less invasive alternatives to what you propose?

No. Giving or taking away rewards does not hurt or scare dogs.

By Dan Raymer

Is Treat Training Bribery?

Correct training utilizing treats as rewards does not equal bribery. Here’s why.

In order to teach dogs behaviors some form of motivation is required. Breaking this down into larger groups the options are: the carrot or the stick, or a combination of the two. The so called “stick” is motivation by application of harsh punishments. There’s plenty of reasons to avoid harsh punishment methods. In contrast, the “carrot” is something the dog wants.

Animals and people perform behaviors for a reason – essentially to earn rewards/reinforcement. Treat rewards act as a form of motivation, the behavior becomes worth doing to earn something valuable, just like people go to work to earn money, to buy food to survive. But a treat also acts as positive reinforcement, meaning the behavior is strengthened, and a dog is more likely to perform that behavior again. When we use correct training techniques, these reinforced behaviors are performed, and then the reward is provided. The reward does not come before the behavior. For example, we don’t give our children ice cream before they eat their broccoli, they have to eat their broccoli first in order to earn the reward of the ice cream. If the behavior of eating broccoli increases over time, the ice cream reward positively reinforced the behavior.

The confusion may come from lure-reward training, in which a treat is held by the dog’s nose to entice him to do behaviors like sit, down, walk forward, and then given as the reward. The treat is motivation for the dog to move (do a behavior), and a reward to reinforce the behavior (make the behavior response stronger). However, the correct training process only uses the treat shown up front early on to get the dog to perform the behavior, then the treat is faded (gradually removed) and replaced with hand signals, and verbal cues, where the treat is subsequently provided as positive reinforcement after the behavior is completed.

The final stage is to reinforce some of the correct behaviors the dog does. If we completely stop reinforcing behaviors, they will decrease, because they stop paying off for the dog to do them, and there’s other more rewarding things in the environment to spend time doing.

A failure to fade the treat-lures in the initial step can result in a dog that views the treat as part of the cue to perform the behavior. This might give the appearance that all uses of treats are bribery. Correct training technique clears this up quickly, and then treats can be given after the behavior is performed to reinforce and maintain those behaviors long-term.

So to summarize: you need some form of motivation. Treats or toys work well. The other type of motivation consists of harsh punishments, but those have negative side effects, leading to more behavior problems or harming your dog’s well-being, so should be avoided.

Using lure-reward training you will show the treat-reward up front to get the behavior, then reinforce the behavior, advancing to the point where the lures are faded, and replaced with hand signals and verbal cues as the dog learns when to perform the new behavior.

We have to keep reinforcing some of the behaviors to maintain them, but at this final stage the rewards (treats, toys) are given after the correct behavior is performed.

By Dan Raymer