What is reward-based training?
We use reward-based methods here at CK9 Training. A reward is anything your dog loves from a piece of hotdog sausage to a game with a ball, or even a scratch behind the ears! So when your dog does something we want them to, we need to tell them they have done it right, to reinforce the behavior. We do not shout or use punitive methods in our training….would you like it if your boss shouted or punished you every time you did something wrong in your job?
When you come to training classes, can more than one person attend per dog?
Yes absolutely! The whole family can come along to classes including children if you wish to. Training your dog is all about consistency, everyone needs to be singing off the same hymn sheet – remember your dog does not come with a manual to understand the English language.
If I start off training with food in my hand, won’t I always have to have a treat in my hand in order for my dog to respond?
No, this is not the case if you train your dog correctly. We start off using food in our hands to lure dogs into performing the correct behaviours, however, once the dog is consistently responding to this, we show you how to take away the food as the lure, and to get your dog working for the verbal and/or hand signals only. Rewards are still given, but once your dog knows a command, there is no need to reward them with a treat every single time.
What type of treats should I use when training my dog?
Think about treats in terms of monetary value. When you are training your dog at home, there are probably no other distractions so your dog may work for their daily kibble, or other dry treats. When your dog comes to class or you are training out in the park, there are many more distractions than at home, e.g. other dogs, other people, different scents etc. Because your dog is now in a more exciting environment, your dog may no longer be interested in their boring dry treats, so you may need to up the value of your rewards. Treats like chicken, hotdog sausage, cheese, ham can all be used in small amounts – think the size of your small finger-nail for each treat. Some dogs that have attended classes have even liked to work for carrots and cucumber! But only use high-value treats when you are in places where there are lots of distractions – if you give them to your dog all the time, the value of the reward soon lowers.
My dog does everything I ask him to at home, but never in the park or when we are out and about – why is this?
Dogs do not generalize very well. If you only practice something with them in the kitchen, they will only understand it to mean in the kitchen. Certainly, when you are teaching your dog something new, you need to start at home or in the garden where the distraction level is low. Once your dog is responding, you then need to practice in all different environments, e.g. the park, on the street etc. It may be more difficult to get your dog’s attention when out and about, but these are the places you also need to practice. Use high-value treats to get your dog’s attention to then use as a reward.
I used to have a Labrador that did everything I asked it to – I now have a Fox Terrier that does want it wants and doesn’t listen to anything I say!
In the past, dogs were bred for working and to carry out specific tasks. For example, collies were bred for herding livestock, spaniels for flushing game and terriers to hunt out vermin. Collies are generally very biddable as they have been bred to work alongside humans – they love to have a job and need plenty of stimulation. Terriers on the other hand, were bred to hunt out vermin independently of humans, therefore can have a tendency to be more independent and willful. Although the majority of dogs are now kept as pet dogs, they have those genetics still very much wired in them, and so depending on the type of dog you have, can depend on the type of behavioural characteristics you may face. So if you are having problems with your dog, or wondering why they don’t match up to your previous dog, think about why your dog was bred in the first place. There is no one cure fixes all for dogs- CK9 Training understands this and can implement different training and behavior plans to suit each individual dog.