4 Training Tips to Solve Dog Behavior Problems

1.

Remove aversive training methods and interactions with your dog. Basically this means don’t do things that scare, hurt, or startle your dog, because these will lead to more behavior problems. See our complete list of methods to avoid.

2.

Increase enrichment activities for your dog – this means supplying fun activities for him to do instead of sitting around all day deciding to do behaviors that are problems for people. Increase your dog’s walks, give him puzzle toys to extract treats from them, play with toys like fetch and tug, allow him to run off leash in safe areas (fenced in), allow him to sniff more on walks, or to find hidden toys/food around your home. Use your imagination and creativity for activities.

This won’t solve all types of problems, but it will for some like boredom barking, or excessive running around the house knocking things over.

3.

Identify the cause of the behavior. Does your dog only bark when other dogs pass by the windows? Does your dog walk fine on leash until people or other dogs appear, and then pull/bark/growl? Does your dog jump on people all the time, or only when excited? Does your dog have a medical issue that is leading to a behavior problem? When we figure out the causes, triggers, or environmental factors that lead to specific behaviors, we can better implement a plan to solve the problem. For example, treating a medical issue, will eliminate the resulting behavior problem. Avoiding triggers, we can prevent behavior from showing up, or we can teach new, calmer behaviors.

4.

Teach a behavior incompatible with the problem behavior. If a dog is jumping on people, then we can teach him to keep his feet on the ground with rewards. If a dog is taking food off the kitchen counter, teach him a down-stay on a soft bed instead. If a dog pulls on-leash, then teach him to walk calmly by your side for treat rewards.

By Dan Raymer

Raymer Family Dog Training News: April 2020

In-Person Dog Training

Thank you to everyone that is patiently waiting for in-person dog training lessons. It appears that things are improving with the virus. Hopefully sometime in May, or soon after, everything will be back to normal. As soon as it is, I will contact each of you to schedule your dogs’ lessons.

Convenient Dog Training

In addition, I have online dog training classes you can take from the comfort of your home. These classes are self-paced, with as much help as you need. They are easy to use. Simply go to our website to read content and training plans, and watch videos through YouTube links. It’s that easy. No special technology skills required. I’m here to help through the whole process, and quick to respond to questions.

How Else Can We Help?

Please let me know if I can do anything else to help you and your dogs during this time. If there are any special topics you want to learn about, leave some notes in the comment section. Thank you! I hope everyone is staying safe.

By Dan Raymer

Happy Easter!

We have beautiful weather in North Carolina. The greenery is showing up in full spring blooming, it remains relatively cool, and there’s plenty of people and dogs enjoying walks in the neighborhood. Despite the virus shutting down many of our normal holiday places, I’m hoping everyone can find some peace and happiness on this special day. Happy Easter!

– Dan Raymer

Starving a Dog is Not Part of Positive Reinforcement Training

Misinformation led to the idea that professional animal trainers utilizing treat rewards starve a dog prior to commencing a training session or program. Where did this idea originate? Some of the older operant conditioning experiments kept an animal hungry in order to increase motivation for food, although this was not true of all the experiments. Nor does this discredit the operant conditioning experiments, since we also have around 80 years of practical positive reinforcement training that did not use starvation or deprivation as a technique.

While deprivation of food makes sense, if you are hungry, you are going to have an increased motivation to obtain food, this is not part of a modern day dog training program.

Many dogs are hyper-motivated by food and treats at all times. Other dogs do not eat endlessly once they are full.

Taking advantage of times when dogs are hungry: before breakfast, before dinner, during a mid-day snack time, allows for increased motivation without food deprivation. This is smart training. If a dog does not earn enough rewards during the training session, he still receives the remaining amount of food afterwards. For example, you could get one final good behavior, reward it with all of the remaining food that would constitute a regular meal, and end the session.

In dogs that have more severe behavior, like a dog with fear aggression who bites people and isn’t overly motivated by food, we can use all of the dog’s meals as motivators/rewards. This is not a strategy to starve the dog, but does require the dog to receive his food in training sessions. Good trainers can manipulate these scenarios to achieve behavior results while caring for each individual dog’s welfare.

House-training

Three core steps to house-train your puppy or dog.

1. Reward

First, in order to increase the desired behavior (your puppy eliminating outdoors), you will need to reinforce the behavior. Accompany him outside and praise and reward with a treat after he goes.

It’s better to wait until he finishes completely, otherwise your praise might interrupt and prevent your puppy from emptying his bladder, but each time he does go, praise and reward. The more correct behaviors rewarded, the stronger the appropriate behavior will emerge.

2. Manage

Second, manage your puppy indoors by limiting his freedom around the house, essentially setting him up to have no opportunities to eliminate inside the home. This strategy should be done simultaneously with step one.

Since puppies are less likely to eliminate in their space (with food, water, toys, and bed), create an area with these things to restrict their movement around the house.

This can involve setting up a puppy proofed room, utilizing a crate, or “tethering” (having your puppy on a leash attached to a harness, following you around for the day – although this is a more passive strategy where the puppy could still go while next to you, if your attention is elsewhere.

3. Redirect

After a few weeks of implementing steps 1 and 2, then allow your puppy to have more freedom around the house, while you actively supervise, to give you the opportunity to observe when your puppy starts to eliminate, to interrupt and redirect him to go outside the home. Make sure to continue rewarding the desried behavior with treats.

It’s important to build up a history of rewarding your puppy for going in the appropriate place (step 1), and preventing opportunities for mistakes inside (step 2), before working on step 3. If you start with step 3, it can scare your puppy, and lead to your puppy avoiding going while you are around. Instead your puppy will find secrete places hidden from your view to go, making it more difficult to house-train.

Any questions? Let us know in the comment section below.

By Dan Raymer, CTC, BS