Why Is Dog Training SO Imperative For Your Dog?

aussie-shepardDogs are a separate species from people and as such have their own special needs and natural instincts. They communicate differently than we humans do, and many of their normal behaviors are counter to our own. When we bring a dog or puppy into our homes and our lives we are asking them to change much of what is natural about their existence. We not only need to teach them how to fit in but also teach ourselves about their needs so that we can learn to accommodate them and adjust our expectations to make the best possible situation for both species; dog and human. If we do not take the time to train our dogs and educate ourselves we will both be frustrated and not nearly as happy as we could be.

The best time to start training a dog is when they are a young puppy, which is why we start dogs in our Puppy Manners class when they are between 9 and 16 weeks of age. It is never too late to start training, but the earlier you start the easier training will be because neither you nor your dog will have acquired bad habits which will require “untraining.”

Clicker training is a positive, motivational training method based on the scientific principles of learning theory and operant conditioning. The basic principle of clicker training is that behaviors, which are rewarded, are made stronger and occur more frequently. A small mechanical clicker is used to mark the precise instant your dog is performing a behavior as requested and then is followed by a reward, usually a tasty treat. Clicker training makes our dogs active partners in the training process. By having to think about what we want, dogs generally learn quicker, retain lessons better and have more fun doing so. Once a dog has learned a behavior such as “down” we will associate it with both a hand signal and a word cue and start to phase out the use of the clicker.

There is nothing magical about the clicker. It is just utilized to make a sound which is used as an event marker to indicate to the dog the precise instant it has done exactly what we wanted. The trainers at Sea World use a whistle as an alternative to the clicker, and I know trainers that have used a flashlight to train deaf dogs and even goldfish. What makes these event markers work so well is that they mark the animal’s behavior precisely and with no emotional baggage. The animal learns that the flash of light or click means they have done a good job and will be rewarded.

 

 

 

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