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An Easy Six Step Dog Training Method

Mar 29, 2008
Here is a simple dog training routine in six easy steps. Depending on your dog and the situation, a trainer will vary her training method when she decides that a particular training challenge needs either a little more or less focus. When you know this method like the back of your hand, you can add a personal touch if desired.

Here are the simple six steps for teaching your dog new tricks:

1. Get your dog to perform the behavior.
2. Mark the behavior.
3. Reward the new behavior.
4. Repeat the behavior until it happens 90% of the time or more.
5. Add a verbal cue as your dog does the behavior to associate the word with the appropriate response.
6. Use your verbal cue to elicit the behavior.

You get particular behaviors by capturing, shaping, or luring the behavior. You mark the behavior with an audible click, or some other reward marker your dog has already learned which is understood to mean the reward is coming. Reward the behavior by following the click with her favorite treat or, in some cases, with a favorite toy or other desirable reward, such as swimming or going outside. Repeat the behavior until your pet is offering it automatically before you add the verbal cue, so she will associate the word with the correct behavior response. For instance, by saying "Sit" as she does it, you are telling her that the name of the behavior she is doing is Sit. If you ask her to do it before she's offering the behavior easily, you risk teaching her that the word sit means "stand there and look at me," or worse, "sniff the ground and pull on the leash." After your dog has heard the word at least a half-dozen times during the behavior, depending on how quickly she seems to learn, then you can say the word first to elicit the behavior. Be sure that her attention is focused on you so that she actually hears the word, and keep your body position the same as it was when you were getting the behavior before. If you had been doing the SIT while you were standing and you suddenly start asking for it while you are sitting, she probably will not understand that it is the same thing.

Give her a few seconds to respond. When she sits, click! and reward. If she doesn't sit, use the minimum amount of assistance necessary (through body language or a lure, not through physical assistance) to get the behavior, and repeat the exercise. If you find that she will only respond if you help her, start to minimize the amount of help you give until she is sitting for the verbal cue without any help from you.
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