Positive reinforcement dog training strategies

Did you know that there are different styles of training within the positive reinforcement "camp"? There are trainers that only use one style and others (like myself) use many different strategies depending on what works in a given situation. However, I NEVER use pain or fear when training.

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Try the clicker to train your dog. It works better.

My name is Jeff Millman and I am a clicker trainer. I know this sounds like the beginning of a 12-step program, but it is not. I am not ashamed of being a clicker trainer, nor do I want to change my ways.

I do want to help explain the benefits of clicker training so you too can train your dog faster and communicate better with him or her.

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Feel like your dog only works for treats?

Ever feel like your dog ignores you unless you have treats? Do you feel like treats are a crutch that you can't move away from? Read on for some tips to help.

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Dog not paying attention to you?

Occasionally a client will mention that their dog pays attention to one family member more than another. The comments usually pertain to the fact that their dog gives one person more affection, follows the person around the house or listens better to training cues.

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Dog training terms

In my opinion, timeouts are the most powerful, humane punishment that can be used for dog training. I never agree with physical punishments, partly because there are just as effective means of humanely teaching a dog.

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FREE dog training tip - teach find someone

Want a fun training activity that you can practice inside and outside? Teach "Go Find Someone". The long-term goal is to ask your dog to find a family member by name and then your dog runs off and finds that person! If you are really savvy, you can combine it with a "Hold" and have your dog be the family messenger. Write a quick note to your son, 'Dinner in 5 minutes', give it to your dog and then say, "Go find Josh". Your dog will bring the note to Josh! How cool!

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How to avoid overfeeding your dog when using treats

This is always a concern with dog guardians. Over-treating can lead to an overweight dog or intestinal difficulties if your dog is especially sensitive. Here are some tips to get your worries under control and avoid over-treating your pooch.

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How long should dog training sessions last?

Did you know it is better to practice short training sessions and stop when your dog still wants more? This strategy will keep training interesting and you will avoid over training. I have always known this, but this was reinforced even more when I did sheep herding with my dogs three summers ago. I am always trying to add more skills to my training repetoire, and thought my two Collies and Shetland Sheepdog would enjoy the experience. My wife and I got up at 5am to avoid the traffic and drove 90 minutes to our weekly training sessions at the sheep herding farm.

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Consistency is important in dog training

I always stress the importance of consistency and want to make sure you know what that means, and why it is so important.

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How to be a better dog trainer

Providing clear instructions is critical in dog training. Have you ever thought about the cues we give our dogs from their perspective? Over the years I am sometimes completely amazed that a given dog is able to understand the trainer at all. All trainers present many different signals to their dog without knowing it. Have you ever said, "Sit" at the same time you are moving your hand in the "Sit" hand signal that you have taught your dog? That is called "blocking", which is presenting a dog two signals at the same time. The dog might learn one signal, both, or neither. In that case, is the cue for "Sit" the verbal cue, the hand signal, or the combination?

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How do you know when a dog is having fun?

This morning I took my three dogs, Ranger, Trooper and Linus to the park. This is a necessity since I have two Collies and a Sheltie and live in Chicago. Until someone moves in with a flock of sheep to keep them busy, it is my responsibility to provide them with a heavy dose of physical and mental stimulation. So, I took them to a park near my house and played Frisbee with them and threw the Kong on a rope. As usual I also worked on training to keep them sharp. I asked them to stop, come, go left, go right, finish, stay, etc. They had a lot of fun and were their normal goofy, wonderful selves.

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What is the most important dog training tip?

Do NOT repeat cues. Hear that? Do NOT repeat cues.

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How much exercise should a dog get?

In my daily dog training life I am constantly asked a simple question: How much exercise does my dog need? The answer depends on your dog. When my Collie, Ranger was a puppy, he needed three hours of exercise per day. How did I know he needed that much? When I did not provide him that much he was agitated, barked in the crate, was destructive and was just not as enjoyable to be around.

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Don't repeat cues and other dog training tips

Just some quick thoughts to make your life as a dog trainer much easier. After training thousands of dogs, it still amazes me how the little suggestions can make the biggest difference.

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Let's talk about corrections in dog training

While working with a private client recently, we ran into another local Chicago trainer. It was interesting, because we were both teaching our clients the exact same lesson, using different philosophies. The goal was to have our dogs meet each other calmly. My client and I were walking a 2 year old wheaten terrier, and the other trainer and his client each had a dog that they were working with.

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Jeff Millman
Graciesmom, this is not that uncommon when dogs play. I always look at the pattern over time to see if there is an escalation of b... Read More
Thursday, 23 February 2012 09:52
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You have a stubborn dog? Really?

Stubborn dog? This little word "stubborn" gets so many dogs in trouble. I hear this word used very frequently to describe a dog’s behavior. It often is used to describe a dog that will not come when called or perform another behavior such as ‘sit’.

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