The Dog Trainer wants you and your dog to have a wonderful time together. If you’ve got a puppy, get simple, sensible pointers for raising her rambunctious adolescent? Transform him into a civilized adult. As for the grownups, no dog is too old to learn new tricks – or better manners. The Dog Trainer explains how to get the polite behaviors you want and then turn those behaviors into lifelong habits. Whether you’re housetraining, teaching your dog to roll over, or wondering how to evaluate a dog walker, The Dog Trainer can help.
About Jolanta Benal
Jolanta Benal never had dogs until she was persuaded to adopt a stray 11 years ago. It turned out to be fun teaching Isabella to jump through a hoop and come when called. Then her family’s second dog, Muggsy, also a stray, turned out to bite when he was scared: welcome to the wonderful world of behavior modification! Jolanta is now a Certified Pet Dog Trainer (www.ccpdt.org), working with private clients who need help with general manners or with serious difficulties such as aggression and separation anxiety. She also participates in the Safety Net program of New York City’s municipal animal shelter system, working to keep pets in their homes. And she answers visitors’ questions at www.doggedhealth.com. Her approach is generally behaviorist (Pavlovian, Skinnerian and post-Skinnerian learning theory) with a big helping of ethology (animal behavior as observed in non-experimental settings). She’s happy to report that the science supports dog-friendly, human-friendly training, with plenty of rewards and fun.
DOG TRAINING TIPS
1. The biggest trick in noncoercive dog training is to teach yourself to notice appropriate behavior and reward that with attention, play, and treats. Many people fall into the trap of ignoring their puppy/dog while she or he is being quiet and pleasant, then giving a whole lot of excited attention to shoe stealing or whatever. Result, puppy learns being obnoxious is the way to get attention from your people when you're lonely or bored. Notice the behavior you like and reward that HEAVILY, esp. in a young dog who's just learning the habits he'll have for a lifetime.
2. In a photo I saw yesterday of the Obamas walking with Bo, Bo appeared to be pulling on leash -- not surprising in a young dog exploring a new environment. Get Dawn Sylvia (or someone she refers to) to come help! And meanwhile, to help w/ Bo's pulling (esp. if the girls are walking him) try one of the new front-clip harnesses (examples are Premier brand EasyWalk and Softouch Concepts Sense-ation and Sense-ible). These help manage strong dogs without causing any pain or distress, and make it much easier to teach polite leash manners. (Not getting kickbacks! In Dog Land there are usually only two or three brands competing. I specify because there are crappy horrible "no-pull" harnesses available that work by making dogs uncomfortable.)
3. Learning is lifelong. That goes for dogs as well as people -- training your dog isn't like, oh, say, installing Windows once and then you're done.
4. All training is just tricks. Take it in a light spirit and have fun.