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WEEK 1 HOMEWORK IN ORDER   

PLEASE DO AT LEAST 1-3 BELOW                    Attention Foundation:


    Skill 1. Watch Me:                                                             Skill 2. Watch Me 2:











1. & 2. Click on videos above to show you a reminder of how to teach "Watch Me."


  • a. Put the treat on your dog’s nose, say “watch me” and slowly bring the treat to your eyes. As your dog stares at the treat between your eyes say your marker word “yes!” and treat. Do this 5 times.
  • b. Repeat above BUT this time put the treat in one hand and use your other hand to put your finger on the dog’s nose and get his attention saying “watch me” and have him follow your finger to your eyes- as soon as he is looking at your finger between your eyes say “yes” and treat from your other hand. You are getting your dog to perform for the empty hand since it has no treat in it.
  • This is what you want. Eventually they will understand the hand without the treat in it is the one to perform for.  (You are basically at this stage tricking them into thinking you have a treat in your hand but it’s actually just your finger.) Do what you have to, to trick them into it. Do this 5 times.


  •  c. After that hopefully now you should be able to say Rover “watch me” and he will stare right up into your eyes. When he does say “yes!” and treat right away. Do this five times. Now up the ante in terms of time of attention required for a reward — first one second of attention, then two seconds, three, five, eight, and so on. Count out the time of attention in “good dogs” — “Good dog one. Good dog two. Good dog three, etc.” Once your dog is paying attention for 20 or 30 seconds, you will notice that he is also in a sit-stay.


  •  d. Repeat step C above- but treat RANDOMLY- first every other time, then maybe every third time, then two in a row, then every 5th time, then every 8th time, then two in a row. Work up to treating every 20th time, etc. Then hardly ever. The goal is to be able to ask your dog Rover “watch me” and spread out the treats so that eventually you are not using treats at all anymore. You are saying “watch me” and they are looking at you ready for what you are going to ask them to do next. They are giving you the attention that many of you have told me you want from your dogs. Many of your dogs are already there. Ask for the “watch me” for more time and for less treats as your dog learns.


 e. Practice this is MANY environments: walking on the trail, through town, etc. All over. Go from a low to high distraction area and get progressively more distracting until you are in the highest level of distraction you can find. You are now teaching your dog to pay attention to you in any environment. You have to do this practice to get attention in these situations. The work you do now is critical for attention. When you go to a more distracting place you will need to go back to more treats to get the same response- that is OK.


3. THIS WAY: 5. Skill III: This Way (Redirection.)











Work on “This Way”. Take your dog for a walk. Every 20 yards or so tell your dog “Rover This Way!” and abruptly change direction. There is no need to yank your dog. Just change direction so that s/he learns that “this way” means go the other way. At first give him/her a treat each time s/he changes direction for about 3 reps, then treat every 6 reps, then no more treats on this one. You cannot do this too many times. It is a great exercise and we will be expanding on it in the near future. By Saturday you should be able to say your dog’s name and “this way” and your dog should automatically change direction with you. This will happen if you practice each day, although don’t be disappointed if it doesn’t happen well in class because remember we have to train these skills in every environment. Once they know it in your living room, train it outside to up the level of distraction gradually. Then come to class and we’ll keep working on it in one of the most distracting environments possible.


​2. LIE DOWN:















DIRECTIONS FOR LIE DOWN:


1. Start with your dog in a sit. Move a food treat in front of his nose so he can sniff it and is interested in it, move the treat FROM THE NOSE STRAIGHT DOWN TO THE TOES. Go as far as you can get their nose down and click/say “YES” in a positive voice as the treat goes down.Say "Down" as the head moves towards the floor. Some dogs just look down at first. Reward it.

2. Each time slide the treat a little further away, rewarding each time if her nose follows your lure out. If she is NOT successful, go back to the beginning or to a place where she was earlier, and start over- be sure she is successful. Once she is in the down position give her a “jackpot” by giving her a few more treats, or a very scrumptious treat and lots of praise. IF THE DOG’S BUTTOCKS COME UP AT ANY TIME DO NOT REWARD- start over instead. NEVER reward the behavior that you do not want.  take a break and play. When it is 99% reliable go to treats every other time, then every third time until you need no treats.

Tip: If you pull the treat down too fast, too soon, the dog can “lose it” and not go down all the way.
3. Next Step: Teach the Hand Signal for Down.
4.  After a few repetitions of your dog successfully following the treat lure to the down position, hide the treat in your other hand (the non-luring hand), and use your empty hand (palm down, just as when luring) to motion the dog in a down position; as soon as the dog downs, immediately reward with the treat from the other hand. The palm-down motion of your hand will become the hand signal. 
5. Once the dog is performing the behavior reliably, begin to use the hand signal only instead of luring with the treat. Reward at first when the dog performs “down” with the hand signal, then phase out treats and rewards randomly expecting more downs between rewards.

Tip 1. Every dog moves into the position at his own rate when first learning the down position, so do not get frustrated! Realize that the down can be a difficult position for some dogs because it is asking them to willingly put themselves into a vulnerable more submissive position. The nice part is it is usually very satisfying for the trainer when the dog does go down all the way.
Tip 2. For small dogs, you may need to sit on the floor, make a bridge with one bent leg, and use the “under the leg” luring method.
Tip 3. Work towards asking for the down position while you are in a standing position, rather than one where you lean over or squat and lure the dog down with a treat.
Tip 4.Never press down on a dog’s back or haunches.
Tip 5. Work on having your dog keep the position for several seconds. To build duration, reward your dog multiple times at various intervals while he’s down. Then, release the dog with the happy word “OK” and gesture to indicate that your dog is free to move out of the position. (Don’t give a treat after saying the release word.)
Tip 6. For dogs who will not lay down with the lure as described above: a) Try the lure while the dog is standing or sitting near a corner, so that the dog cannot scoot backwards and out of the down position. b) Try the lure on the dog’s bed or other comfortable surface. c) Use a higher value treat. d) Simply sit on the floor and place your hand with a treat on the floor palm down, and hold your hand there while the dog tries to figure out how to get the treat. e) Ignore the dog and patiently wait until the dog lays down on his own, then reward with treats and praise.


3. Please Click HERE and Watch videos 8-11 to be sure you know what is coming up with loose leash walking and heel. Start if you would like.





THE FOLLOWING ARE FOR IF WE GOT TO THESE IN CLASS OR IF YOU'D LIKE TO GO AHEAD. OTHERWISE START THESE NEXT WEEK!


4. Come sit is a great way to warm up daily for training - or in instances where you need to get your dog's attention back to you. Check out this video of me with a formerly out of control dog:












5. Skill II: Find your Face: Watch the videos and read the directions below then practice! If we  did not do this in class feel free to wait until next week.













This second video above is very important for those of you whose dog is lunging on the leash.


Once you have been working on watch me for a bit it’s time to start training your dog to pay attention to you at the next level. Here’s your next step to great attention building. Ignore everything your dog does until he glances at you for an instant. It doesn’t matter how long you have to wait or how short the glance. For the first couple of trials you may have to wait for several minutes but soon you will find your dog will look at you within seconds. As soon as your dog glances at you, say, “Good Dog,” reward him with a piece of kibble and then take one large step (to break his gaze) and wait for him to glance at you again. After a couple of reinforced glances, up the ante in terms of time of attention required for a reward — first one second of attention, then two seconds, three, five, eight, and so on. Count out the time of attention in “good dogs” — “Good dog one. Good dog two. Good dog three, etc.” Once your dog is paying attention for 20 or 30 seconds, you will notice that he is also in a sit-stay.

Now we are going to make it a little more challenging for your dog. After praising and rewarding your dog for looking at you, as you step away, turn your back on your dog to intentionally break his gaze. Give him plenty of time because now he has to work out that staring at your backside is not sufficient, but instead he has to come round in front of you to “find your face.” Praise your dog as soon as he looks up at you and then repeat the sequence.

After a few trials, it’s time to teach your dog to pay attention on cue. Say, “Watch me,” turn away from your dog and praise him as soon as he makes eye contact. Now you will be able to perform this attention exercise in motion by asking your dog to “Watch” while you serpentine backwards away from your dog. Alternatively, ask your dog to watch you while heeling, or during sit-, down- and stand-stays.


6. Try doing some “this way” and “sit” and “watch me” in a sequence so that your dog can change direction, sit and look up at you for attention. Give plenty of treats at first for the direction change the sit and the watch me. (Have them do all of these things and then reward after the “watch me.”) Then of course phase out the treats so you can get more reps for less treats. Try to get to 20 “this way,
sit, watch me’s” without a treat.

6. Be sure you have trained your dog to chew toys! See this video:














7. STAY:

Here are two great examples of how to teach stay. Our method is a combination of the two. Flat palm out, say "say", and you start  moving side to side, Say "YES!" and and give a treat. You dog should not move until you say "YES!" IF s/he does,  you know you have gone too long or too far away  in any phase of stay.Once you can move side to side, do several times with one foot back and the other foot in place. Once your dog can stay put for a good 20 seconds, move on to 1 full step back. Once you reach 20 seconds again, try two steps back. Continue this training. Then work on going out to the side one step at a time until you can do a full circle with your dog staying in place. By week 6 of this class, set a goal for yourself and your dog. For most dogs a good goal  is to do a 10 foot stay and the ability to do a full circle around your dog with him/her not moving by week 6. Also going from room to room in your house with your dog in a state is great. For week I, try to get two steps back further than you got during class. Take a minute to set a stay goal, include others you live with. Write it down your goal.















8. SKILL IV: GO PRACTICE THIS IN DIFFERENT ENVIRONMENTS.

Especially if you have a dog that reacts to and barks at other people, things, or dogs. This is one of the very best things you can do for a dog who barks at (is reactive) towards people, dogs, or things. You want to keep the barking down to a minimum. For example if your dog is deathly afraid of children or other dogs and barks aggressively towards them the idea is to be able to put them near those things and have them not react. This is how you do it!!! Teach them this skill (this way, sit, & watch me in sequence) THEN go bring them to an environment where there are those things your dog reacts to but be sure they are far away. The dog has to feel safe. Give them a quick look at one of those things (the other dog, kid, the stroller) whatever the dog is fearful of or reacting to, and BEFORE THEY HAVE A CHANCE to react or bark at it, turn them around saying “this way” and once they are not focused on it anymore ask them to sit and watch you. Do this exercise over and over as much as possible around those things that trigger your dog. If your dog is lunging and barking at it you started too close to the thing/person. Start far away and get closer. If your dog barks at the thing or person you are too close. PRACTICE DOING THIS IN CLASS IF YOUR DOG IS REACTIVING TO OTHER DOGS. What you will find if you do this right is your dog will be able to get closer to the thing/person it is reacting to each time WITHOUT reacting  to it! You have to keep doing this if you want your dog to not react as much. Do it many days, for weeks, until it makes the impact you want it to.  It works! I went from 100 feet away to 20 feet away in just one session with this technique with a highly reactive dog who was barking and aggressive towards other dogs. Although that dog will not be able to be with other dogs in the near future, just getting him to be able to be in the same environment with other dogs on a leash is a huge accomplishment.

9. SKILL V:Practice rewarding good behavior often.

Any time your dog is doing something great- or is simply not barking, digging or being a problem, tell him about it! Be on the lookout for all behaviors you want your dog to continue. Observe your dog and whenever he does something you like, simply say, “Good dog” and give him a piece of kibble or a training treat. For example, reward your dog whenever he sits, lies down, stops whining/barking/howling/growling (shushes), stops jumping (four on the floor), looks at you, or looks cute. After you exercise your dog practice getting your dog settled down.  Settle your dog down by giving a chew toy that s/he cannot resist. Sit on the dog bed with him or on the floor and if s/he is not food aggressive just pet him calmly rewarding for good calm behavior.

10. Alert Trainer to behavior problems at home via email.Behavior blue prints: email or give me a call this week about any common behavior problems. I have many blueprints which are short, to the point readings that address many common behavior problems. If you have one of these behavior problems please let me know and I will send you the corresponding behavior blueprint. If you follow the instructions on the print you can alleviate most of these problems. If that does not solve your problem ask questions and perhaps for a private consultation. Behaviors addressed include destructive chewing, digging, problems with children, excessive barking, fear of people, fighting, home alone, housetraining, getting a new dog or a new puppy, walking on a leash, and puppy biting. Let me know if you are having any behavior problems at home. If you can email about any problems, that would be fantastic.

11. READ THE FOLLOWING TRAINING GUIDELINES- Very important!

 Best Buddy K9 Training Guidelines:

Be Patient and go from low to high distraction areas. If you are patient you and the dogs you are training will accomplish much more. If you are stressed about it your dog will feel that stress and it will not be the fun that training is supposed to be. When you first start training at home, try your best to get in a place with no there are no other dogs around and where there are as few distractions as possible. Once your dog knows a command well you can move to a higher distraction area. You will teach the behavior while on a walk for example. There are many cues that you will learn in class that can be reinforced while out on the walk. Asking them to change direction on the walk with the verbal cue “this way” teaches them to change direction and to pay attention to you.  Once your dog can perform the behavior you are teaching in a low distraction area, move to a higher distraction area and then increase the level of distraction until your dog can perform for you anywhere.

Make It FUN & Keep sessions short! Training should be a fun game, not a stressful experience. Some dogs love training and are very motivated to go on for longer periods of time, while others get bored after just a few minutes. Try to use rewards that will keep the dog motivated. If she is not interested in your reward the motivation to perform will not be there. Use an enthusiastic, happy voice when training and while getting the dog interested- but not overly excited or the dog may become too excited to accomplish anything. 5-10 minute sessions3-4 times a day (or as many as you and your dog would like) are perfect. Don’t overdo it; you want your dog to always want to come back for more.

Cue Words: When the dog does the behavior correctly you will need to “mark it” within one second and then reward it fairly quickly as well. This brief mark or cue precisely marks that moment the dog did the behavior, letting the dog know exactly what action is being rewarded.  Although the actual food reward follows the marker a couple of seconds later, the dog learns to fully understand what behavior is being rewarded. This will make it much more likely s/he will repeat the behavior. Any word can be used as a marker and clickers work very well because they create a distinct sound - but the key is to be consistent. Your marker word can be “YES! Or “Good!” in an enthusiastic happy voice. It is also perfectly fine to use a clicker as long as it is paired with the word “YES or “Good!”  Be consistent- always use the same marker word. The program instructor will show you how to create a positive association between the clicker and the behavior if you are interested in learning the clicker method. It can really happen the first time you teach the dog sit or “watch me” because you immediately pair the marker sound with a behavior and a reward. If you say yes, good boy/girl, and pet the dog as a reward, that is fine too as long as your first word marker “YES” is clear, enthusiastic and separate from any other words.

Do not add the cue word until your dog is doing the behavior 90% of the time. Stay is the exception to this. Once you add the cue word always say the cue word, the behavior you want them to do, BEFORE you lure them into position. Within one second of them getting the behavior right say “yes” &/or click and treat. The basic steps are:

1. Request
2. Lure, 
3. Response
4. Reward.

For example: 1. Say, “Sit,” 2. Lure the dog to sit by moving a food lure upwards in front of the dog’s nose, so that 3. As the dog raises his head to follow the food, he compensates by lowering his rump to the ground and sits — the desired Response and so, 4. Reward the dog with a scratch behind his ear, by throwing Tennis Tug ball to retrieve, or simply just give him the food.

Be Aware of the Training Goals in lure reward training: Our first goal is to get the dog to perform a behavior through luring. This teaches them the hand signals. Our next goal is to add the verbal cue and to get them to perform the behavior with the verbal and hand signal. Our final goal is to get them to perform the behavior with the hand signal or the verbal signal alone. In other words when you say “down” your dog should go down with no hand signaling. Or if you want him to go down with only the hand signal and no verbal cue that is the other part of the final goal. This is important- you may not always be able to give hand signals if your hands are full or if you are too far away from your dog. In other instances perhaps you are talking to a friend, you may want to be able to give the hand signal for down and you do not want to stop your conversation. This is an excellent test of training obedience.

Help Dog Reactive Dogs Be More Successful: If your dog is barking aggressively towards another dog on a walk, turn around and walk the other way until the dog calms down. Allowing him to continue to walk forward lunging toward the other dog is accidentally rewarding a bad behavior which makes it worse. You are better off walking the other direction for a little while until the dog you are walking calms down, or the other dog has passed. Reactive dogs like this can be rewarded when they are further away from other dogs and show signs of doing anything besides reacting to (barking or lunging) toward the other dog. Once we have learned the attention “watch me” cue in class you can use this to get your dog to pay attention to you instead of other dogs and thereby can circumvent any problems with your dog barking or lunging at the other dog. If your dog is barking or lunging at another dog usually it means your dog is stressed out. You need to change that stress response to one of contentment. We will learn how to do that in this course.

Phase Out Treats as a Reward. Food can be used to train the dog initially but you should move toward fading the food out and using other types of rewards as quickly as possible. Once a behavior is performed correctly 95% of the time, begin treating every other time, then every third time, and so forth but make this totally random. The length of time this takes is all dependent on the particular dog you are training. If possible, try to phase into using a treat one time, verbal praise and petting the next. If your dog likes toys, that is an excellent thing to reward them with. Once the dog is performing the behavior you want, it is actually more reinforcing to NOT treat every time, but every other time and then even only give treats sporadically and randomly. If you treat every other time dogs learn that on second trail they don’t have to perform as well. That is why it is important to be random with the treating as they progress. It is important to keep your dog guessing as to when they will get the reward. For example treat every other time, then every third time, twice in a row, every fifth time, every 10th time, twice in a row, every 20th time, etc. Keep it totally random. If you phase out too soon they may stop performing the behavior so go back to kindergarten and show them again. Just remember at first treat a lot, and then demand more correct behaviors before rewards as time goes on. ALWAYS however give praise. That is never too much.

Never Reward bad Behavior: ARE YOU TRAINING YOUR DOG TO GO IN THE TRASH OR ON THE COUNTER?

Rewarding bad behavior even by accident teaches the dogs that the bad behavior is getting them what they want. If you are teaching “down” for example and the dog’s butt comes up, she will not necessarily do it correctly the next time. When we get to and teach “leave it” and the dog goes for it and you are not close or fast enough to take it away, she is just learning that she just needs to get to it faster than you. If you are at the end of the walk and ask the dog to sit and he just stands there and you reward him anyway or leave before he actually sits, that is an example of reinforcing a behavior that you do not want, which will make training much more confusing and less productive for the dog. Leaving food on the counter and leaving the dog unsupervised so that s/he has access to the food actually trains the dog to go on the counter. Never leave food on the counter unless you know your dog does not do this.

When your dog jumps up on you: Give him an alternative behavior to perform- such as sit or down and if that doesn’t work give him a brief time out. Do not pet him and reward him for jumping up, even pushing him down repeatedly can be a fun game for him. So you must 1. Get him into a sit and stay (and then you can pet him) and if that fails give him a brief time out (Usually one minute even works). You can give him a time out in a quiet room or by stepping on his leash down low so that he cannot jump. When he is calm you can let him go. This may take MANY repetitions. Do not give up. It will change if you are consistent. Whatever you do, do not hurt or knee the dog. Pushing him back down does not always work- ignoring is a more constructive method because the dog gets absolutely no reward from you (including attention.)

Ways to sit, down, and wait for the food bowl:

SIT:

Lure your dog by raising a food treat above his head until gravity takes over and his rump hits the ground. (You can use a toy instead of food to lure the dog as well.) When the dog’s rear hits the ground, immediately say “Yes!” and reward with a food treat. Once the dog understands how to “sit” with the treats and the behavior has been performed reliably multiple times, work towards teaching sit with the hand signal facing palm up. Each time you raise your hand with your palm up, the dog should sit. As always reinforce each behavior with treats each time at first, then work towards rewarding less and less, treating randomly and very gradually building to less treats/rewards. This takes time and many sessions. Eventually the dog should sit with no reward and many sits should be expected before rewarding. Soon sit will be required for each door to open and the door opening will be the reward.

Tip 1. Wait until the dog is doing the behavior reliably before adding in a verbal cue. That is, do not say the word “Sit” until the dog is actually performing the behavior. Remember, the cue (your verbal “sit!”) does not cause the behavior; reinforcement (food, praise, petting, toy) causes the dog to want to comply.

Tip 2. Be sure to have the dog’s attention before asking the dog to sit. (See “Watch Me” Command)

Tips 3. Do not ask for more than five sits in a row in one place—too much repetition will start to bore him.

Tip 4. Work on having your dog keep the sit position for several seconds. To build duration, reward your dog multiple times at various intervals while he sits. Then, release the dog with the words “OK let’s go” and walking away gesture to indicate that your dog is free to move out of the sit. (Don’t give a treat after saying the release word; instead give it after he sits.)

Tip 5. As you and dog progress, change the location of where the dog sits in relation to you, so that your dog learns to sit in positions other than facing right in front of you. Your dog should be able to sit on either side of you, facing you, when your back is to the dog, while you are sitting, while you are holding objects, etc. Dogs do not generalize well, so teach your dog that “sit” means putting his rear on the ground no matter where he is.

Tip 6. Do not push on the dog’s rear–this is bad for a dog’s hips and it also teaches them that the push with your hand is the cue and not the spoken word or hand signal.

Tip 7: Some dogs jump up constantly when you attempt to teach them to sit. Many interventions can be tried in these cases. Do not let them jump up and then reward them. Again, that is rewarding undesirable behavior. You may have to hold their collar while you try luring them into position so they do not jump up. One volunteer used this method at first then each time she reached for the dog’s collar he would sit. With repeated training he eventually learned to sit on command.



Wait for Food:






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When you lower the food bowl down ask “wait” or (“stay” if you are using stay), as the dog goes for the bowl, pull the bowl away until dog learns to wait, until your student dog has learned this behavior  reliably. It is something you can perhaps ask the staff to begin doing regularly with that dog. See the shelter manager for more details.

13. Do the reading below. If you would like to do that later and move on to the next homework, click here:


Reading From Dog Star Daily:

The more you read the more you will know and the more your team will grow!

Here is some GREAT information from renowned animal behaviorist and trainer Ian Dunbar. Although Ian is now in his 60’s he was the first to really work positive dog training based on dog behavior studies. He remains one of the most looked up to knowledgeable trainers by trainers around the world. The most published positive behavior trainers in the US often refer to his books and work which he has kept current based on current studies. He also began the Association for Professional Dog Trainers which now hosts trainers from all over the country and is a meeting place for us to discuss our discipline. His website has a free registration and I will add weekly reading from it below as he suggests.

Whether your dog is an adolescent or not it will be helpful for you to read this:

Ch 4: Adolescent Dog Training (18 weeks - 2 years) & Adult Dog Training    Dr. Ian Dunbar From: www.dogstardaily.com

Whether you’ve gotten your dog as a puppy or adopted him/her as an adult know that adolescence is a time of change. Hopefully your dog has good bite inhibition (does not bite people or other dogs hard), is friendly, and social, and enjoys people and other dogs. If so do not take this for granted. You must always praise your dog when she is demonstrating good behavior and reward her especially well when she is being exceptionally behaved. Continue to be sure your dog meets other dogs and people. If this is a problem talk with your trainer about the best way to do this. Dogs who are friendly in puppyhood to people or other dogs can often become unfriendly if isolated with their own family and don’t see lots of other people and dogs. In other words like training, socialization should be a lifelong activity.

Your dog needs to meet unfamiliar people on a regular basis. . In other words, your dog needs to be walked at least once a day. Your puppy may be taken for rides in the car and to visit friends' houses as early as you like. From the time your puppy is four months old, walk him on a regular basis — at least once a day. Otherwise, if your dog is confined to your house and only meets the same familiar people over and over, he will desocialize surprisingly quickly and soon grow to be wary and fearful of strangers, especially children and men.

Also, your dog needs to meet unfamiliar dogs on a regular basis. It is a fact of life that not all dogs get along. However, if you gave your puppy plenty of opportunities to play with other puppies and dogs and so develop solid bite inhibition, it is highly unlikely that your dog will injure another dog when scrapping. When dogs have reliable bite inhibition, most dogfights are no more than dog arguments. Continue socializing your dog with other dogs on walks and in parks.

The prime purpose of puppy husbandry is to produce a friendly, confident, and biddable pup, so that you can face the behavior and training challenges of your dog's adolescence, and your dog can deal with the immense social upheaval that dogs, especially males, face as they navigate adolescence. It is much easier to approach doggy adolescence with an already socialized and well-trained dog. However, maintaining your dog's socialization and training through his adolescence can be tricky if you don't know what to expect and how to deal with it.

Behavior is always changing, sometimes for the better, sometimes for the worse. Things will continue to improve if you continue working with your adolescent dog, but they will definitely get worse if you don't. Both behavior and temperament will tend to stabilize, for better or worse, as your dog matures around his second birthday for small dogs or third birthday for large dogs. But until then, if you don't keep on top of things, there can be precipitous and catastrophic changes in your dog's temperament and manners. Even when your dog reaches maturity, you should always be on the alert for the emergence of unwanted behaviors or traits, which you must quickly nip in the bud before they become hard-to-break habits.

from AFTER You Get Your Puppy by Dr. Ian Dunbar

Adolescent Changes

A dog's adolescence is the time when everything starts to fall apart, unless you make a concerted effort to see it through to the stability of adulthood. Your dog's adolescence is a critical time. If you ignore your dog's education now, you will soon find yourself living with an ill-mannered, under-socialized, hyperactive animal. You can correct this but it’s easier if you watch out for it. Here are some things to watch for.

Household etiquette may deteriorate over time, especially if you start taking your dog's housetraining and other good behavior for granted. But if you taught your pup well in his earlier months, the drift in household etiquette will be slow until your dog reaches his sunset years, when housetraining especially tends to suffer.

Basic manners may take a sharp dive when puppy collides with adolescence. Lure/reward training your puppy was easy: you taught your pup to eagerly come, follow, sit, lie down, stand still, roll over, and look up to you with unwavering attention and respect because you were your pup's sun, moon, and stars. But now your dog is developing adult doggy interests, such as investigating other dogs' rear ends, sniffing urine and feces on the grass, rolling in unidentifiable smelly stuff, and chasing squirrels. Your dog's interests may quickly become distractions to training, so that your dog will continue sniffing another dog's rear end rather than come running when called. (What a scary thought, that your dog would prefer another dog's rear end to you!) All of a sudden he won't come, won't sit, won't settle down and stay, but instead jumps up, pulls on-leash, and becomes hyperactive.

Bite inhibition tends to drift as your dog gets older and develops more powerful jaws. Giving your dog ample opportunity to wrestle with other dogs, regularly handfeeding kibble and treats, and periodically examining and cleaning your dog's teeth are the best exercises to ensure that your adolescent dog maintains his soft mouth.

Socialization often heads downhill during adolescence, sometimes surprisingly precipitously. As they get older, dogs have fewer opportunities to meet unfamiliar people and dogs. Puppy classes and parties are often a thing of the past and most owners have established a set routine by the time their dog is five or six months old. At home, the dog interacts with the same familiar friends and family, and is walked, if at all, on the same route to the same dog park, where they encounter the same old people and the same old dogs. Consequently, many adolescent dogs become progressively desocialized toward unfamiliar people and dogs until eventually they become intolerant of all but a small inner circle of friends.

If your adolescent dog does not get out and about regularly and few unfamiliar people come to the house, his desocialization may be alarmingly rapid. At five months your dog was a social butterfly with nothing but wiggles and wags when greeting people, but by eight months of age he has become defensive and lacking in confidence: he barks and backs off, or he snaps and lunges with hackles raised. A previously friendly adolescent dog might suddenly and without much warning be spooked by a household guest.

Puppy socialization was a prelude to your safe and enjoyable continued socialization of your adolescent dog. However, your adolescent dog must continue meeting unfamiliar people regularly, otherwise he will progressively desocialize. Similarly, successful adolescent socialization makes it possible for you to safely and enjoyably continue to socialize your adult dog. Socialization is an on ongoing process.

Dog-Dog Socialization also deteriorates during adolescence, often at an alarming rate, especially for very small and very large dogs. First, teaching a dog to get along with every other dog is difficult. Groups of wild canids — wolves, coyotes, jackals, etc. — seldom welcome strangers into their midst, but that's exactly what we expect of Canis familiaris. Second, it is unrealistic to expect a dog to be best friends with every dog. Much like people, dogs have special friends, casual acquaintances, and individuals they don't particularly like. Third, it is quite natural for dogs (especially males) to squabble. In fact, it is a rare male dog that has never been involved in some physical altercation. Everything was fine with young pups playing in class and in parks, but with adolescent dogs, the scraps, the arguments, and even the play-fighting seem all too real.

A dog's first adolescent fight often marks the beginning of the end of his socialization with other dogs. Again, this is especially true for very small and very large dogs. Owners of small dogs are understandably concerned about their dog's safety and may be disinclined to allow their dogs to run with the big dogs. Here is where socialization starts downhill and the small dog becomes increasingly snappy and scrappy. Similarly, owners of large dogs (especially the working breeds) are understandably concerned that their dogs might hurt smaller dogs. Here too socialization goes downhill and the big dog becomes increasingly snappy and scrappy. Now we're in vicious circle: the less the dog is socialized, the more likely he is to fight and thus be less socialized.

Preventing Adolescent Problems

Dr. Ian Dunbar 

Always make a point of praising your dog and offering a couple of treats whenever he eliminates in the right place. Keep a treat container by your dog's toilet area. You need to be there anyway to inspect and pick up your dog's feces (before the stool becomes home and dinner for several hundred baby flies). Remember, you want your dog to want to eliminate in his toilet area and to be highly motivated to do so, even when he develops geriatric incontinence.

Similarly, a stuffed Kong a day will continue to keep the behavior doctor away. Your dog still needs some form of occupational therapy to idle away the time when left at home alone. There is no magic potion and there is no drug that will prevent household problems, such as destructive chewing, excessive barking, and hyperactivity, or alleviate boredom, stress, and anxiety as quickly, easily and effectively as stuffing your dog's daily diet of kibble into a few Kongs.

For your adolescent dog to continue to be reliably obedient and willingly compliant, you must integrate short training interludes, especially emergency sits and long settle-downs, into walks, play sessions, and your dog's other enjoyable day-to-day activities. Maintaining your dog's manners through adolescence is easy if you know how to, but extremely difficult if you don't. You must learn how to integrate training into the dog’s lifestyle.

Should socialization ever fail and your dog snap, lunge, or nip a person, you will be thankful that you had the good sense to take your puppy to classes where he learned reliable bite inhibition. Your dog's defensive actions cause no harm but they warn you that you'd better quickly revamp your dog's socialization program and maintain his bite inhibition exercises before it happens again. Which it will. Continue bite inhibition exercises indefinitely. Occasionally handfeed your dog and examine his muzzle and teeth (and maybe clean them) on a regular basis.

The secret to a well-socialized adult dog is at least one walk a day and a couple of trips a week to the dog park. Try to find different walks and different dog parks, so that your dog meets a variety of different dogs and people. Socialization means training your dog to meet and get along with unfamiliar dogs and people. The only way to accomplish this is for your dog to continue meeting unfamiliar people and dogs daily. Praise your dog and offer a piece of kibble every time he meets an unfamiliar dog or person.

And don't forget to maintain your own improved social life by inviting your friends over at least once a week, just to keep them still involved in training your dog. Ask them to bring along somebody new to meet your dog.

Host a puppy party and invite your dog's buddies from puppy class and the dog park. To offset some of the scarier aspects of the dog world at large — adult dogs, big dogs, and occasionally unfriendly dogs — make sure your adolescent dog has regular opportunity to socialize and play with his core companions from puppy school.


If you have a dog this age please read this:

Adult Dog Training (2 years+)


Dr. Ian Dunbar 

As dogs mature, they develop many doggy interests that may compete with dog training. For example, dogs may find that sniffing the grass, playing with other dogs and chasing squirrels are all much more exciting than listening to their owners and following repetitive instructions — come, sit, down, heel, sit, heel, sit, etc. Puppy training techniques begin to fail, environmental stimulation causes sensory overload and many dogs become hyperactive or reactive to other dogs and people. Owners become frustrated by the dog’s hyperactivity and inattentiveness and the relationship starts to go downhill.

Unless regularly given the opportunity to explore new surroundings and meet unfamiliar people and dogs, as dogs grow older, they become less accepting of their environment. Older dogs become more wary of the world in general and especially of strange, scary and unfamiliar stimuli. Make sure you give your adult dog plenty of time to adjust to new situations and employ classical conditioning to build positive associations when introducing dogs to new experiences or people.

The very first item on the agenda is to learn to control your dog’s rambunctiousness and rumbustiousness. A very successful training ploy is to “put behavior problems on cue” — to train the dog to bounce and bark on command, as in the Jazz-up & Settle Down and the Woof/Shush exercises. Then, the problem, which worked against training, now becomes an enjoyable game — a reward to use while training. Classical conditioning has an additional calming effect by teaching the dog to form positive associations with the physical and social environment. However, the success of adult dog training depends on the magical All-or-None Reward Training techniques.

All-or-none reward training techniques are easy, simple and extremely effective. The techniques have similarities to clicker training in that no commands are given and the dogs are neither lured nor prompted. However, all-or-none reward training is much quicker than clicker training since shaping is unnecessary. Within just a few minutes, without giving a single instruction, your dog will learn to pay attention, sit stay and to walk calmly on leash. And once all-or-none reward training techniques give you back your dog’s attention, you can go back to using the lightning-fast, lure/reward training techniques that you used with your puppy.

Important
To fast-track your adult dog’s re-education, make sure that you do not waste potential training rewards by feeding your dog from a bowl. Instead, each morning, weigh out your dog’s daily ration of kibble and place it in a container. Throughout the course of the day, you may handfeed every piece of kibble as a reward for good behavior.


Jazz Up & Settle Down

Dr. Ian Dunbar 

Many owners experience great difficulty and frustration trying to get their adolescent dogs to settle down. Many dogs bark and bounce like crazy when the front doorbell rings. Dogs perform moon loops just because the owner says, “Walkies,” or picks up the dog’s leash. And on walks, some dogs literally explode with activity and uncontrollable enthusiasm at the mere prospect of meeting a person, another dog, a squirrel, or a leaf.

Many owners ignore their dogs when they are calm and well behaved and only attempt to control the dog’s behavior when he is really out of control. Obviously, this is a most challenging way to train. And it isn’t going to work that well. First, owners should practice settling down their dogs in easier scenarios — when the dog is less excited, or even when the dog perfectly calm and relaxed. For example, while your dog is snoozing on his bed, ask him to join you to settle down on the couch. Your dog would be only willing to obey. Then owners should settle down the dog in more distracting settings. For example, when walking your dog, ask him to settle down every 25 yards and by the end of just one walk, you’ll have a very different dog — much more attentive and biddable. Finally though, owners must “confront the beast “and learn how to teach Mr. Hyperdog to settle down quickly and willingly, anytime and anywhere. This is one of the first adolescent exercises that we teach at SIRIUS® Dog Training, because this is precisely what owners have come to learn. In many adult dog training classes, dogs are never allowed to bark and bounce or express their enthusiasm and so, owners can never learn how to settle down their dogs when they are excited. Obviously, we have to allow dogs to bark and bounce in order to practice teaching them to settle down and shush. However, rather than let the dogs be rambunctious at will, we teach the dog’s to be rambunctious on cue.

Interestingly, as soon as we instruct owners to jolly up their dogs and get them to vocalize and jump in the air, most dogs simply stand and stare and observe their owners with some considerable curiosity. This is a classic example of Murphy’s First Law of Dog Training: When trying to teach a particular behavior, usually the opposite happens. With a little encouragement though, most owners quickly learn to teach their dogs to jazz up on cue, whereupon the owners may now, at their convenience, repeatedly practice teaching their dogs to settle down on cue. The jazz-up-and-settle-down sequence is repeated until every owner can get their dog to settle down and shush within three seconds.

Once the owner has taught their dog to perform a “problem” behavior on cue, the behavior is no longer a problem that works against training, instead the activity may now be used as reward to reinforce training. For example, after a lengthy period of settle-and-shush, you may instruct your dog to bounce, circle, bark, rollover, or tug as a reward. After walking calmly on leash, you may instruct your dog to pull as a reward. (Especially useful when going uphill.)

An additional benefit of having activity problems on cue is that you may now instruct your dog to let off steam when the time is convenient. For example, I would always instruct my Malamute to stick his head out of the sunroof and howl whenever we were stuck in commuter traffic on the San Francisco Bay Bridge. In fact, once, during an especially lengthy traffic jam, a BMW driver followed suit and howled back!

Quantum Leaps You will make four quantum leaps in training as you phase out hand-held training lures, and eventually all training rewards. Phasing out food lures is a simple matter — just put them in your pocket to be used as rewards for above-average responses. Phasing out food rewards is similarly simple — just empty your pockets of food and use something else as a reward. 

1. Phasing Out Food Lures As your pup learns to watch the movement of your hand-held lure, your hand movements soon become effective hand signals. Hold your hand palm-upwards for the Sit signal, and palm-downwards for the Down signal. After a few repetitions, your puppy will begin to anticipate each hand lure signal on hearing the relevant verbal command. Thereafter, the verbal request becomes the equivalent of a verbal lure, since it successfully prompts the desired response. Training lures are no longer necessary to entice your puppy into each position because a hand signal or verbal request is sufficient. Put the kibble in your pocket right now. Come on, all of it! Repeat the Sit-Down-Sit-Stand-Down-Stand sequence with empty hands. However, make sure to follow each eager verbal request with a sweeping — nay flourishing — hand signal, just as if you were holding a lure. At the end of the sequence, praise your pup and reward him with a piece of kibble from your pocket. See, you don't need a food lure in your hand to get your dog to respond. Failure was all in your mind, just as the food is now all in your pocket.

This is the first quantum leap: Your puppy has learned that although you have no food in your hand, you can still magically materialize all sorts of goodies from your pocket. Now it's time to begin fading out food rewards.

2. Reducing Food Rewards Go back and use food as a lure for a quick test to see how many puppy-pushups (alternating sits and downs) your pup will do before he gives up. Keep hold of that treat though. The longer your hold on to the lure, the quicker training will proceed. (In fact, that's how we teach stays and "Off!") Now you know how much your puppy is willing to work for the prospect of just one food reward. See which family members and friends can get the puppy to perform the most push-ups for a single food reward. By asking more for less, you have begun to gradually and progressively phase out food rewards in training.

Now repeat the Sit-Down-Sit-Stand-Down-Stand sequence with empty hands but with food rewards in your pocket. Do not be in a hurry to stuff food rewards into your pup's mouth. Instead, treat every food reward as if it were a gold medal. Only reward your pup immediately following extremely rapid, or especially stylish responses.

This is a second quantum leap: Your puppy has learned that although you have food rewards in your pocket, he may not get one every time he responds correctly.

3. Phasing Out Food Rewards Now it is time to empty your pockets and replace food rewards with praise, petting, toys, games, favorite activities, and other luxurious life rewards. This is the third quantum leap: Your puppy has learned that although you have no food rewards in your pocket, even better surprises may follow desired behavior. For example, when walking your puppy, stop and ask him to sit every 25 yards and as a reward say, “Let’s Go” (the walk continues). When in the dog park, call your puppy and ask him to sit every minute or so and as a reward say, “Go Play” (the play session resumes).

4. Phasing Out External Rewards Eventually, it is no longer necessary to reward your dog to reinforce desirable behaviors. Rewarding your dog is always an option and always a wonderful thing to do, but your dog's stellar behavior is no longer dependent on expected rewards. Instead, your dog complies with your requests because he now wants to.

After this fourth quantum leap, external rewards are no longer necessary, since your puppy's good behaviors have become self-reinforcing. In a sense, each correct response becomes its own reward. Really, this is no different from people who enjoy reading, running, riding, playing games and sports, and dancing. Rewards are not necessary. Participation is its own reward.