I use positive reinforcement to teach my dog not to barge through doors. When Ace makes the “human-like” decision to wait at the door, he is rewarded with praise, treats or a walk. If he barges ahead, we go right back inside (no fun).
Ace is the type of dog that will get bored with a routine very quickly. He will sit politely at the door, but he is not having fun. So, every now and then I reward Ace with a “jackpot” of extra special treats (bits of hot dogs) just for waiting at the door. Now that’s fun!
Or, how about every time the doorbell rings, he gets a tennis ball if he chooses to focus on me instead of the door? That’s pretty fun, too!
This is the kind of dog “coaching” Tamar Geller uses in her book “30 Days to a Well-Mannered Dog: The Loved Dog Method.” I received a copy from Gallery Books in exchange for a review on this dog blog. You have a chance to win a copy by leaving a comment below. You can also buy a copy on Amazon.
Use fun and games to train your dog
Tamar’s Loved Dog Method is all about gaining fast results with your dog by making training fun. She is by no means implying that your dog will be perfect after 30 days of coaching. Her book teaches dog owners how to build a good relationship with their dogs – something that takes the dog’s lifetime.
Below are several dog training ideas from “30 Days to a Well-Mannered Dog” that I found helpful:
1. Reward specific actions.
Phrases like “good boy!” and “good girl!” are nice, but marking a specific behavior with “good sit!” or “good shake!” will help the dog learn exactly why she is being praised. This will also help your dog learn more words and phrases.
2. Repeat the names of things you and your dog come across every day.
Dogs can learn the names of different objects, people and other dogs if we take the time to teach them. They enjoy the challenge of learning new words. For example, Tamar suggests repeating “drink” or “water” a few times every time your dog drinks. Your dog can also learn the names of his friends if you say “Buddy” every time you see Buddy and “Eli” every time you see Eli.
3. Give names to your dog’s unwanted behaviors.
If your dog has an annoying habit like barking, you can use that as an opportunity to teach the dog a word for the behavior such as “speak.” He’s already doing the behavior, so why not teach him a word for it? From there, you can teach him “no more” or “quiet.”
Ace has an annoying habit of crying in the car once he realizes we are going somewhere “exciting.” Since I’ve taught him the words speak (bark) and sing (howl), I can use that to our advantage in teaching the word “quiet.” Since he already gets a reward for barking on command, I will take it a step further by telling him “quiet” mid-bark and then rewarding him with a treat once he’s quiet. This is where I would say “good quiet!” Perhaps I can even teach the mutt a command for “cry” – he sure does enough of it!
“30 Days” is a repeat of “The Loved Dog”
I enjoy Tamar Geller’s books, and I think every dog owner can take something useful from her suggestions. But you know how if you’ve read one Cesar Millan book, you’ve read them all? It’s the same with Tamar’s books. “30 Days to a Well-Mannered Dog” is basically a repeat of her earlier book, “The Loved Dog.” Both are very good books on their own, but if you read them both, you will find a lot of the same information. I’d stick with one or the other.
I’m also unimpressed when dog trainers make sure to mention all the celebrities they’ve worked with. Tamar is very good at what she does because she has a lot of experience and knowledge, not because she’s trained Oprah’s dogs.
We’re going to be hearing more and more about positive reinforcement dog training as though it’s some kind of new concept. Tamar and many other trainers act as though they’ve come up with some kind of new breakthrough in training. Giving a dog a treat for doing something right is not a new concept, whether you call positive reinforcement training, reward training or “The Loved Dog Method.”
That being said, “30 Days to a Well-Mannered Dog” is a good read. I especially liked how Tamar addressed how we are over-vaccinating our dogs, covering them in pesticides to prevent fleas and overlooking the simple concept of feeding them natural, raw diets. It’s obvious Tamar has true compassion for animals, and we can all learn something from her.
Win your copy of “30 Days to a Well-Mannered Dog”
Gallery books has several copies of “30 Days” to give away to lucky readers of That Mutt. For your chance to win, leave a comment below. Winners must have a U.S. mailing address, and no P.O. boxes, please. Several winners will be chosen at random, and I will contact the winners by email after Nov. 13.
What are some positive reinforcement techniques you have used to train your dog?
Note: I received a free advance copy of “30 Days to a Well-Mannered Dog” in exchange for a review on this blog.