Ready to work?
I like to ask these questions of my dog:
Will you eat food?
Can you hear your food reinforcement marker cues?
Can you execute simple behavior skills?
Can you do simple sequencing?
The very first thing I teach is focus on me (eye contact) AWAY from something the dog wants. That “want” can be a treat, to greet another person or dog, a toy, access to outside, etc… I teach this the first or second day I get a pup home before I even teach the dog his name, recall, or anything else. In future blog topics, I’ll be talking more about how behaviors, reinforcement and what I’ve termed a “reset” fit together, but for now let’s concentrate on teaching the dog that focus on you is the gateway to getting what he wants.
I’m all about the reinforcement these days.
Mine, my dogs, the people we surround ourselves with.
What is reinforcement?
Anything the dog likes. This could be swimming, sniffing, eating, tugging, chasing, access to the front yard, you name it.
Reinforcement could also be release of pressure, since relief from punishment can be very likable to the learner receiving the punishment. But I’m not talking about that in this blog post, so let’s stick to positive reinforcement for now. Social greetings, movement, control over one’s environment, those also can be considered reinforcement.
Some of it you get for free. Most dogs like food, and the type of dogs I have tend to like chasing, tugging, and just doing stuff.
But some of it you have to build…
I’ve had the chance to chat with Melissa Breau on the Fenzi Dog Sports Podcast twice now — the first time on my background and the second time specifically on training with toys.