This Training Tuesday, In our Train your Dog Positively Series, Talent Hounds is shining the spotlight on the amazing founder and head trainer of In Dogs We Trust, Melissa Millett with the support of our favourite all natural delicious Dog Treats from Canadian manufacturer Bullwrinkles.
We have had the pleasure of seeing Melissa and the adorable Bella and Sophia the Ulti Mutts at Winter Woofstock, Talent Hounds Events, the All About Pets Show (video here) and Woofstock. We also saw her on TV as she has been featured by Rick Mercer, Talent Hounds and in her own show on Rogers.
Melissa began her career training in competitive obedience as a hobby with her own dog in 1998 and immediately developed a lifelong passion for training dogs. Since then, Melissa has taught hundreds of obedience classes, held training workshops for professionals in the pet industry including Veterinary technicians, Service Dog Trainers and the staff and volunteers at the London Humane Society. Through using smart positive training methods, Melissa has become a renowned dog trainer. Here she shares some of her expert tips!
Bella, Melissa’s Adorable Boston Terrier
Melissa encourages using a clicker to aid in training. The sound of the click is a marker, which communicates to the dog what he or she has done correctly by marking the exact moment he or she did what you were asking. Think of the click as a camera, you click as if you are taking a picture of the behavior you are trying to teach. If you are teaching a sit, click the moment the dog’s behind hits the floor. Timing is crucial.
Use the clicker for training in the early stages to provide clarity, then you can stop using the clicker once the dog understands the behavior. The clicker is not a tool you have to carry for life! It is only for the teaching phase.
When using a clicker remember : Always follow the sound of the clicker with a reward. If you are ready to phase out the treat every time, replace the click with a verbal marker, “yes.”
When training a dog, body language is the most over looked but effective way of training. Your body langage is very important as dogs are incredibly visual animals. Most people train using verbal commands which can get repetitive and frustrating for both you and your dog. Instead, use your body to show your dog what you are asking for. Hand signals and eye contact can make an incredible impact on your training.Words and verbal commands should be the final step in training. Dont begin adding verbal commands until your dog understands the behaviour.
Be enthusiastic and have fun when training and your dog will too. It should be enjoyable for both of you!
Melissa and Bella Performing. Look at that focus!
Use treats to teach or re-gain focus. You can teach by capturing or luring. To lure, bring the treat from very close to your dogs mouth to your cheek so that he looks at your face and then “click” and reward with the same treat. This is great for training your dog to focus on you. From here you can cue another trick or behaviour. The luring action of bringing the treat to your face will also become your hand signal.
When rewarding your dog be smart and help your dog be smart. Its great to reward your dog, but be sure to choose sensible and healthy treat options. Don’t just reward your dog when your dog responds to a cue, also reward when your dog has offered good behavior on his own without being asked. Capturing is a very effective training technique. This teaches your dog to think, and begin to offer good behavior without being asked.
With positive reinforcement training you can use multiple kinds of rewards, food, play, praise and most importantly environmental rewards. There are other ways to reward your dog for good behaviour by doing something your dog enjoys. Ask for a sit before opening the door to go on a walk, or before putting on a leash, or when getting a new toy or before allowing your dog to greet another dog. This reinforces the behavior you desire, without always giving food rewards.
Asking your dog to perform an obedience behavior like sit or down will teach your dog that calm appropriate behavior earns him these rewards instead of inappropriate behaviour. Then you can also use these environmental rewards to fade out the use of treats.
Distance, Distraction and Duration!
Check back next week for Part Two!
Happy Training! Ask any questions and share your experiences and Tips.