PAW volunteer Kendra Blatzheim shares the following tips about guiding the behavior of dogs.
Kendra's riding instructor taught her an enlightening three-step approach:
1. You tell the animal what you want the animal to do.
2. You show the animal what you want the animal to do.
3. You ask the animal what you want the animal to do. Then repeat as needed.
Some principles of animal training to keep in mind:
1. Remember, you are smarter than the animal. Help your dog realize he can respect and trust you.
2. Start a training session in a relaxed, confident mood. If you are tense about working with the dog, the dog will pick up on the tension and not feel trusting or at ease.
3. Decide what you are going to do before you attempt to do it. Then "Just do it." The human must take the role of leader in the relationship and earn the animal's trust.
Kendra advises: "Most of your interaction with animal can be similar to how we act in the work place. You are the CEO. The animal is not." She suggests that dogs not be given a "pay raise" for doing the minimum. But when he or she does better, or does something good that's unexpected, "pay them more."
Make sure that rewards are given only for good behavior and timed properly so that your dog develops the desired associations. If a treat is not well-timed to reward a positive behavior, the dog might appreciate the cookie but not associate it with the desired behavior. He may even associate the treat with a less-than-desired behavior.
"Getting the dog to heel, or 'Stay with me,' teaches the dog to look at you and take your cues. If you work a dog in a small area, then the dog will have fewer distractions," says Kendra. You get what you expect from your animals, suggests Kendra, so raise your expectations and work to help your dog learn how to meet them.