In all aspects of human and canine behavior, boundaries create safety and an opportunity to positively move forward. Think of barriers on a freeway; they reduce opportunities for mistakes and allow people to travel more safely down the road.
Now consider teaching children appropriate behavior in a restaurant. Proper guidance is needed to help the child in knowing what is, and is not, acceptable while in that environment. By rewarding him for sitting nicely in his seat, rather than continually getting after him to stop running around, you can positively help him develop a habit of more well-mannered behavior.
Working with your dog is exactly the same. In training, boundaries are an opportunity for you to give your dog choices, each with a specific consequence. Rewards reinforce choices, corrections create an opportunity for the dog to reflect on a decision. Structured repetition in an environment that’s conducive to your dog being mentally balanced enough to recognize the consequences is KEY to success!
What dreams do you have for your well-mannered dog?
Politely greeting guests at the door
Viewing other dogs and human friends calmly
Staying near you while you are out walking
As you read and imagine these experiences, I hope you can feel the calmness that will reside within your dog. Mental balance is derived through boundaries that reduce the dog’s choices. Too many choices are chaotic and overwhelming to a dog; therefore, making it difficult for rational thought and learning.
The POWER in learning comes through repeating patterns that lead to a final goal outcome. At Full House Dog Training, we follow a system of consequences called Turning Lemons into Lemonade.* This process uses both rewards and corrections in sequence to continually communicate with the dog about his real-time decisions.
Here are the steps to properly communicating the value of your dog’s choices:
1. Commit to a goal or target behavior you want your dog to develop.
2. Be Prepared with communication tools in early development phases of a particular behavior. We use high value food for rewards at this stage and a leash or squirt bottle for correction.
3. Mark with marker words. When the dog makes a positive choice, we use “YES” and reward with food. When the dog makes a choice that doesn’t align with the end goal, mark with a non-reward marker; we use “Uhuh” and squirt or pop on the leash. The correction—or sourness—of the moment creates an emotional memory for making an incorrect choice.
LEMONS TO LEMONADE… the sweetness of training is guiding the dog to proper behaviors through the use of rewards and corrections, not just correcting the dog! The goal is to create more lemonade through reward moments for your dog. DON’T FORGET, immediately following a correction, be sure to reward the dog with food after repairing his bad behavior so they have a clear understanding there is value in making the right choice again.
4. Repeat rewards for duplicating a correct behavior. Continue to reward in same fashion as Step 3. As the dog chooses a correct behavior more consistently, we reduce the reward frequency because the dog requires less help and is taking more accountability for his choices.
5. Redo LEMONS TO LEMONADE sequence if the dog’s choice is still not in alignment with target behavior until dog begins making the correct choice more frequently.
A well-mannered dog is a dog that can freely choose positive behaviors on its own. It requires time and patience on your part, but the long-term benefits are peace of mind and confidence your dog won’t embarrasss you at the front door. Taking time for proper training early on will create the dream dog you desire!
Contact us for help in creating the training plan that’s right for your dog and follow us on YouTube, Facebook and Instagram for video demonstrations!
*McCabe, Mark. Training Between the Ears. (Online), 02/03/2020. https://www.markmccabe.com/