● What is a reward?
A reward is anything that motivates your dog to perform the behaviors we are asking. The reward is like your dogs “paycheck” for working! Rewards come in many different forms such as praise, toys, and food. Every dog is different so it is important to find what motivates them the best.
Types of Rewards:
1. Click the clicker (see video below on how to teach the clicker!), then feed. When you click, he should run to you. Do not ask/expect him to stay in behavior if you click.
Click PROMISES a food reward. If you click, you MUST feed him.
2. Reward in position. Simply say “good” or repeat the command, then bring food to him where he’s at.
3. Reward with a toy or affection, not just food! BUT if you click, you must feed him.
● When do I reward my dog?
Now that your dog has gone through a training program you do not have to reward them as often. For the first few days they are home you can reward every time they do the right behavior, after that period you can fade away from treating them so often.
● Who can reward my dog?
Everyone! As long as the dog is performing the behavior correctly, anyone is welcome to reward.
● Where do I reward my dog?
Reward your dog in the direction you want them to be. Dogs go where the treats go, so use that to your advantage. For example, when performing a down stay, reward on the floor between their front paws so they will stay low to the ground rather than reaching up to get the treat out of your hand.
Tip: Instead of feeding your dog out of a food bowl, use their breakfast and dinner to reward
them for doing a command. This helps maintain good weight and gets them earning their meals.
HOW to BUILD YOUR TRAINING LANGUAGE
You have embarked on a training journey with your dog. Congratulations!
The clicker produces a neutral sound. By itself, it means little to your dog. However, by applying classical conditioning, we can teach her that the click sound announces food! Done well, your pup will be very excited and happy when she hears it!
To get there, you have to create a simple, predictable pattern so she can learn what the click means. (We will use the concept of simple, predictable patterns to teach her lots of things!) This pattern is this: *click* the clicker, wait 1-1.5 seconds, then present food (say "one Mississippi" in your head to get the timing right).
Simple, right? But we need to install a few things for this to really work its magic.
This is a major building block for the training language we will be building together for your dog. Existential feeding means simply that your dog primarily receives calories through training. Yup… no more bowls. No more free feeding (if that’s part of your current routine). Her food will come from your treat pouch and your hand. Portion out her daily calories in the morning, and split them into three roughly equal parts: one for breakfast, one for daytime, and one for dinner. During her regular mealtimes, dedicate 8 minutes or so to working with her. Make this a regular habit, and you’ll be amazed at how much you can accomplish. Her regular meals will now be somewhat smaller than they have been, as you’ll have some of her calories reserved for communication/reward throughout the day (if she does something you love outside of dedicated training time, reward her for it!).
HERE’S THE KICKER: when we use existential food (the food she needs to live, i.e. her regular daily meals) for training, we’re utilizing leverage and communication that’s inherent—she already has the understanding that food is good. We don’t have to explain it. Plus, it’s biologically appropriate to work for our food. Desire (in this case, appetite) in all creatures creates activity (such as hunting, or showing up to our 9-5 job consistently). Sometimes in the beginning, with dogs who are used to food being provided "for free" (no criteria) we see dogs check out or act somewhat uninterested in learning the new games that get them the food. This is normal! Don't fret. If she checks out or seems otherwise disengaged, put the food away and try again at the next meal (or for very young puppies, in an hour or two). Once she is hungry and realizes that food is only available through engagement with you and figuring out what you're teaching her, you'll see magic happen. You'll become SUPER relevant, and the games and challenges in training will include a "paycheck" for your dog that they really want. Motivation is our greatest asset in training! Your pup will only love the training as much as they like their reward. Using meals as well as treats for training on a daily basis will give you and your pup a huge advantage.
Below are links to exercises to get you started. Once you've completed them I will send others! Send me a video or two of this and I'll offer tips and feedback as well.
Below is the Puppy Schedule I give to my puppy owners. It's pretty active, and includes more potty breaks than an adolescent or adult dog really needs. Most dogs over 5 months old can go 3-4 hours between potty times no problem. Feel free to tweak it--longer crate and/or structured free times, for example. Adjust it to your lifestyle!
You'll see immediately how important the crate is to this. Feel free to use some of her training food or the daytime portion to help with the crate. Toss some in, let her go inside, close the door. Keep the crate covered (this helps dogs calm, and aids in limiting sensory input during crate time). Training should be sandwiched between crate times.
Structure and reduction of privileges helps us bring our dogs to a "blank slate" state. I recommend eliminating furniture and bedtime. If you want to pet or play with your dog, get down on the floor with her. Also eliminate free roam, at least for the time being. Keep her on leash, and with you if she's out of her crate. Go outside with her when she goes out to potty. Hold the criteria that inside is for calm, and outside is for crazy. If she starts getting energetic, either take playtime outside, or you can put her in her crate (depending on what's fair and where you are in the schedule). Good calm inside activities can include gnawing on a chew, or playing with a puzzle toy. There are a ton of amazing toys on Amazon! Put some of her daytime food in a toy and let her work on it. Kongs, Himalayan chews, or Goghnuts are also great options.
Crate 🡪 Potty 🡪 Free/Play/Training Time 🡪 Potty 🡪 Crate
This schedule is for very young dogs. For older dogs, make crate and free times longer. No need to go in and out so often. But other concepts still apply!
Crate: the puppy must be calm.
If your puppy begins to protest and make noise, you can allow him to “cry it out” provided he doesn’t escalate (heading toward full-blown tantrum). A heartbeat puppy (for very young pups) or a special chew/kong toy with something yummy inside) can help make crate time calm and enjoyable. If he escalates, there are a few things you can do. But we recommend you reach out to us if you need help with crate-time protests so we can help ensure your response/delivery is clear and fair.
The message you’re trying to send is simply, “If you attempt to call me back to you like this, I will come back but it won’t work out the way you intended. The only way out of this crate is through calm and quiet.” For young puppies, waiting them out is ideal so its a solution they discover for themselves. If your puppy is a screamer, try to have crate training times during the day when they won't be keeping everyone awake. Stay committed! It's completely natural for a puppy to want to stay with you, but knowing how to self-sooth and be calm on their own is an important life skill and a building block to other behaviors and habits we want in our adult dogs! Plus, crate time helps puppies learn to be ok on their own, and can prevent separation anxiety from developing.
CAVEAT: Know your puppy. Don’t correct for excessive noise if you know what he sounds like when he needs to go potty.
Potty: the puppy must go outside in front of you.
Stay with your puppy. Have him on a leash or flexi-lead. Click the clicker as soon as the last drops or last turd comes out—praise and reward! (If he pees, but you know he needs to poo, still click and reward for the pee. Then let him go sniff and finish his business.)
Uncrated Time: there are three types.
Training Time: for meals. Practice your puppy’s obedience games for his breakfast and dinner. (See your List of Commands and Example Training Exercises handouts.) Handling and grooming exercises without much food also falls under this category: brush and massage your dog! It’s relaxing and strengthens the bond.
Play Time: actively engage with your puppy. Grab a couple toys and play tug, chase, fetch, etc. Having two toys in the game allows you to throw one, and then entice a return with the other one. Have fun!
Free Time: in a play pen or free in the house. If your puppy is free in the house, he should be dragging a leash so that you are able to prevent or respond to unwanted behavior in a meaningful but neutral way. During Free Time, your puppy can play quietly by himself, work on a kong or other puzzle toy, or just lay about. During Free Time, he should not be getting tons of attention from family members (that would be during Play Time).
6:30am Give Water then Crate (get yourself some coffee lol)
7:00-7:30 Potty then Training Time
7:30 Potty then Crate
9:00 Give Water, Potty then Play Time or Free Time
10:00 Potty, then Crate
12:00 Give Water, Potty then Handling & Grooming Practice
1:00 Potty then Free Time or Play Time
2:00 Potty then Crate
3:30 Give Water, Potty, Training Time
4:30 Potty then Crate
6:30 Potty then Free or Play Time
7:30 Potty then Crate
9:30 Potty, Pets and Cuddles, Potty, Crate for the Night
*** Note on Water and Potty Training: know how to monitor your pup's hydration levels! For young puppies, last water for the day could be between 5:00 and 6:00 pm to help them have an empty bladder and be comfortable longer throughout the night. ***