1. Work=play=work. All play is fun and so all work
should be as well. If your dog makes a decision during play (example
he grabs his toy without being invited to do so) you are reinforcing
his right to make decisions during working with you as well (ahh, maybe
I will chase the cat rather then practice A Frames right now!).
2. POSITIVE does not equal PERMISSIVE. This is the
guiding principle of Say Yes Dog Training. You must be consistent. If
a behaviour is acceptable at home (example the dog choosing not to lie
down when told) it is also acceptable during work. Approach training
and home life with a patient disposition and a strict application of
what is and isn’t acceptable. Training happens 24 hours a day
7 days a week; your dog is always learning regardless if you are actively
training or not!
3. Behaviours are shaped by
CONSEQUENCES. Be aware of what is reinforcing your
dog. Review and alter your list of reinforcers as your dog
grows up, especially the “activities that reinforce”
4. Use your RECALL, to evaluate your relationship
with your dog. Be diligent at making improvements
each day in the level of intensity your dog has for working
with you. Work at building a better relationship with your
dog rather than making excuses for his performance. Work
with the dog on the end of your leash -- and turn him into
a dog other people wish they had!
5. Be aware of what RESPONSE you are rewarding
each time you give out a cookie or toy. What did
you click—did you see eyes? Did you want to see eyes
when your dog is performing that skill? What did you intend
to reinforce? Does the dog know?
6. VIDEO at least one training session every second week.
More if possible. If progress isn’t as fast as you think
it should be for one particular skill, video three or four consecutive
training sessions of that one skill (each video clip should be
no longer than 3-7 minutes). Review each video individually upon
completion – then view and evaluate the entire series. What
did you reinforce? Can you pick out why your session isn’t
progressing as fast as you would like? If you can’t critique
it yourself, ask a friend to review it with you.
7. THINK, PLAN, DO, REVIEW (Bob Bailey). Plan
your work and work your plan. Time your session or count reinforcements
so you don’t train your dog to exhaustion. Do not begin
to train until you have worked through your mechanical skills
and planned where you will deliver your rewards. Keep your training
session short! After each session, write in a journal recording
your progress and plans for future sessions. Do what will assist
you reaching your goals; do not get wrapped up in “finishing
as sequence or exercise”. Do what is best for your dog!
8. MIX UP YOUR REINFORCEMENTS so that you are working
with toys and food. Only offer a reward you know your
dog will want. Once a reward is offered, do not accept your dog
not taking it. You can use food to reinforce an attempt to play
(or the other way around) but never use food to reinforce a dog
that has declined the opportunity to play or decided to stop playing.
What would you be rewarding? Of course you would have rewarded
your dog for making the decision to NOT play with you (and remember
9. Whenever frustration sets in remind yourself that “YOUR
DOG IS A MIRROR IMAGE OF YOUR ABILITIES AS A TRAINER”.
Only when you take ownership of your dog’s shortcomings
will you be able to turn them into attributes.
10. CLICK FOR ACTION REWARD FOR POSITION. (Bob
Bailey) If your dog barks after each click and you feed them,
what are your reinforcing? When initially shaping or re-training
skills. it is important to deliver your rewards as soon as possible
after the click (1-3 sec) – remember the reward reinforces
everything the dog does between the time he hears the click and
when receives his reward.
11. Train to IMPROVE YOUR WEAKNESSES. All of
us tend to practice what we are good at, or the dog we find easiest
to train, it is reinforcing for us. If there were exercises you
felt uncomfortable with this weekend it could be a result of a
weakness in your current training program. Be sure to work short
sessions on the skills you are not as graceful at performing.
12. Bob Bailey attributes training problems to: timing,
criteria or rate of reinforcement. Have someone observe
your timing with your clicker, alter your criteria so your dog
can succeed and keep your rate of reinforcement as close to 70%
13. Cheap responses once rewarded will always be lurking
(Bob Bailey). Be aware of ‘what else’ your
dog may be doing when you click him for a desired response (i.e.,
14. Are you a double L? (…a lurer &
a lumper) Your dog’s lack of progress may be due to your
not “splitting” the desired behaviour into small enough
responses. Be certain you are returning the hand that delivers
the treat back to starting position after each rewarded response.
Work to create a “thinking” dog not a dog that needs
to be prompted by you before he can begin his work.
15. YOU CAN’T HAVE SPEED WITHOUT UNDERSTANDING. Got D.A.S.H.? If you are working many new environments
and you start each session with the maximum amount of “D”,
the “S” will come once you have the “A”
Do not try to make your dog be fast until he first understands
how to be correct without prompts or lurers from you.
16. WHAT IS YOUR CRITERIA? Identify it, learn
it, work it live it. Maintain criteria, ALWAYS. The easiest thing
to do is to train a behaviour. It is a far, far more difficult
thing to do to maintain your criteria for the life time of your
dog. That is what makes a great trainer.
17. Don’t ever ignore your dog while training.
If you are getting further direction or clarification from an
instructor, tug with your dog or, hold his collar & stroke
him or put him into a relaxed position or in his crate. What ever
you do, do not finish an exercise and turn away from your dog
to talk to an instructor; it shows a lack of respect for your
canine partner. Your dog should always be recognized for his effort
to work with you.