Category Archives: Dog Owners Blog

Evacuation Kit For Your Dog | Off Leash K9 Training | Hurricane with Dogs

 

Hurricane Dog

 

 

 

 

 

 

Often at times, disasters such as the upcoming hurricane,  force one to vacate and abandon the house immediately with as fewer belongings as possible. Most of the times, people do have an emergency bag available for themselves that which they fill up with all their basic and most important belongings. However, most people do not consider what’s important for their pet dogs. Having an emergency evacuation kit for your dog could be extremely beneficial and can save you a lot of time in such a case. 

Consider packing the following dog items in your pet dog’s evacuation kit: 

Spare leash and a collar: Do keep a spare collar and a leash with your dog’s name engraved on it. Moreover, do not forget to add your contact information onto the leash in case your dog gets lost in the chaos. 

Medications for your dog (if any): Dogs and pets in general need medications just as much as humans do, in case they are suffering from a medical condition. So do not forget to pack in your dog’s medicines. 

Water purifier: Just like humans, your dog cannot survive without water either. Moreover, it is important for your pet to drink purified water if you want him/her to stay healthy. So do pack a water purifier along. It is not very heavy and will come in extremely handy. This is because in case of a natural disaster, most of the water resources get flooded with bacteria and harmful parasites. 

A blanket/toy: If it is cold out there, do not forget your dog’s blanket and a familiar toy along with it. This will help your dog in feeling relaxed and more like at home. 

First aid kit: When natural disasters occur, and there is a sudden need of abandoning the house, you never know what challenge awaits you out there. So keep a first aid kit ready in this case. So that if your dog gets injured, you can heal him/her just enough to carry on, on the go! A first aid kit must contain stuff like supplies for bandages, wound cleaner (chlorhexidine or Iodine), a vaseline, pain relieving ointments, and hydrogen peroxide. 

Food: A sudden change in the diet of your dog can result in diarrhea and vomiting. This is the last thing you would want outside the comfort of your house in an emergency struck zone. So do not forget to keep at least a week’s worth of pet food in your pet’s bag along with enough dry food that can last longer. Also, consider packing some treats and snacks to keep your pet happy and relaxed. 

Duct tape: A duct tape can come extremely handy for quickly repairing things like the dog’s leash or a torn part of your dog’s clothing. 

Pet microchip: This is beneficial, yet a not so necessary component in a pet’s evacuation bag. These chips are not bigger than a grain of rice. An animal doctor will implant this safe chip inside your pet which will help you in tracking its location with just enough precision and accuracy. Hence in case your dog gets lost in all the chaos, it will be easier for you two to get reunited. Also, ensure they have secured tags and contact information!

-Nick White

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Dog Training Tips | Off Leash K9 Training | List Of Common Dog Training Errors

Dog training is very important, but we often make mistakes because we are unaware of the error of our ways. Most of the times, these mistakes are not critical, but they do tend to slow down the process of the dog’s training. This causes frustration for the owner and confuses the pet greatly. Here are some mistakes commonly made in dog training, and how you can avoid them.

You are Training for Too Long

You might think that training your dog for too long will produce better results, but that is not always how it works. Your dog might get bored especially if it is a young pup. You might start getting tired yourself and not pay attention to how the dog is behaving. Long sessions can be tiresome for both the owners and dogs. Short, fun, and fully engaged sessions are more effective because you can retain the dog’s attention better during this time.

You are Not Practicing Regularly

People often get sluggish after giving the dog the initial training. But if it important to continue training, otherwise the dog’s behavior will be impacted. Just like you get rusty over time if you haven’t done something in a long while, dogs become slow in their skills too. That is why it is important to practice regularly with your dog. As I saw trainer Ted Summers post, “Maintenance training is a myth, the dog’s training is advancing or decaying.”

You are Training at the Same Area

People often make the mistake of training their dogs at the same place, for example, their homes. Then they get confused when the dog behaves miserably at the park or in town. Many do not understand that dogs do not generalize easily, so you should try training them at different spots, so they can understand their commands better in a wide variety of environments.  If you watch my training videos, you will see I am constantly in different areas with the same dog.

You are Not Proactive

Dog training takes time, technique and stamina. You need to be patient, and remain consistent to have a well behaved dog. People often lack insight and only react to the situation. Instead, you need to remain proactive, and train your dog regularly, to instill those good habits in your pet.  As I say, “there is NO replacement for repetition.”  Also, be proactive in training the dog for situations that you know they will find themselves in (distracted by other dogs, distracted by people, noises, objects, etc).  It’s better to work on these things in a training environment so they are much easier to deal with in a real world environment.  I always try to train the dogs for harder scenarios than they will actually deal with in a real world environment. 

Always Give the Dog 100%

Remember, the dog you are training does not care what you have going on in your life (a break-up, tired, stressed, etc).  As I tell my trainers, “You chose to train the dog, the dog did not choose to work with you; therefore, YOU owe the dog everything and they owe you nothing.”  Always make a conscious effort to be motivated, up-beat, and fun! If you find yourself (or the dog) getting frustrated, it’s time to take a break! Give the dog 100%!

You are Not Consistent

Consistency is KEY!  There is no replacement for consistency.  If you give the dog a command, it is imperative that you follow through 100% of the time.  If the dog believes there is a loop-hole in your training system, they will certainly find it.  If I tell the dog down, and they break the command five times, I will put them back six times. Only letting them up when “I” give them the release word.  If you are training inconsistently, you should expect inconsistent results.  

The Three Things It Takes To Make A Dog Amazing

In the words of a good friend of mine, mentor, and legendary trainer, George Hickox, “There are three things every dogs needs in order to be a champion: good genetics, good nutrition, and good training.”  Depending on where you got your dog you cannot always control the dog’s genetics; however, you can control the other two!  Look at your dog like a person; ensure your dog’s nutrition, hydration, and health is placed very high on your priority list! Having the ability to control two of the three most important things is huge!  Do not take them lightly.

Apply What Training Works Best For the Dog In Front of You

A lot of people forget that the most important dog in the world is the one that’s right in front of them!  Adjust your training, style, and methodology to whatever works best for the dog that is in front of you! 

Ask, Ask, and Ask!

Lastly, if you are ever unsure about a specific dog, behavior, or issue, ASK!  Our world is filled with incredibly knowledgeable trainers, ask one or two of them for their advice!  I am fortunate enough to have an entire contacts list filled with some of the best trainers in the country, I pick their brains every chance I get!  Remember, it’s better to actually have the knowledge than it is to act like you do.  When you learn, you become a better trainer and in turn, your dogs  become better!  It’s a win for you and it’s a win for the dog (the biggest win).   

Nick White

https://www.offleashk9training.com

 

Perform CPR On Dogs | Off Leash K9 Training | Dog Safety

How to Perform CPR on Dogs – A Step by Step Guide

CPR or cardiopulmonary resuscitation can save your pet dog’s life when done in a timely manner and following the right procedure. 

The procedure is basically a combination of artificial respiration and chest compression. Chest compressions will help keep the blood pumping in case your dog’s heart stops due to respiratory failure. 

Once the dog stops breathing, the vital organs including the brain and the liver suffer from deprivation of oxygen. In just a matter of three to four minutes brain damage can occur. Hence, prompt action is crucial. 

That said, every responsible dog owners must be armed with the knowledge on how to perform CPR on their pets in an emergency.

Important Things to Consider

CPR should only be performed when necessary and shouldn’t be done on healthy dogs. Otherwise it can cause physical complications or worst, fatal damages. 

Prior to doing a CPR, see to it that you assess your dog’s condition first. Check if the dog is still breathing. If it is, then you don’t need to perform a CPR. To check whether the dog is still breathing or not, check chest movements or place your cheek or hand up to their nose to feel for airflow. 

Determine if there might be an object that’s causing blockage on the dog’s airways. Open the dog’s mouth to check for any signs of foreign objects. Dislodge the object, should you see one, before conducting the CPR. 

Performing CPR on Dogs – A Step by Step Guide

  1. Positioning your Dog
  • On a flat surface, lay your dog on his side.
  • Try to help open an airway passage by straightening your pet’s head and neck.
  • Pull the tongue of the dog forward. 
  1. Preparing and Performing the Compressions
    • Locate the dog’s heart.
    • Lay both of your palms near the dog’s heart on top of the widest part of the rib cage. Press down gently yet firmly. The goal is to make quick and rapid compression – compress, release, compress, release. Repeat about ten times every five-ten seconds interval.
  1. Performing Artificial Respiration
  • When doing artificial respiration the goal is to do artificial breathing of one breath after two to three seconds of interval.
  • Start by sealing the lips of the dog. 
  • Place your mouth near the dog’s nostrils. 
  • Blow gently into the nostrils and check if for chest response – signs of lifting and expansion. 
  1. Performing Abdominal Compressions
  • This is ideally done for larger breed of dogs. 
  • To do this, compress the front part of your dog’s belly gently.
  • Consider employing an abdominal squeeze by placing your left hand under your pet’s abdomen while your right hand rests on top of the abdomen. 
  1. Check for signs of improvement on your dog’s condition.

Stop at least every two minutes to check if your pet has already resumed normal breathing. Continue to administer artificial respiration until a veterinarian or help arrives. However, if after 20 minutes you notice no improvement with the dog’s breathing, you may discontinue the procedure as unfortunately, it has proven to be unsuccessful.

10 Warning Signs To Ensure You Are Not Getting A Dog From A Puppy Mill!

Nowadays it has become more important than ever to adopt a pet instead of buying it. Thousands of helpless animals are put to death every year because they are ownerless. If you have your heart set on a puppy of your own there is no reason not to call around shelters and find some puppies that way… however; if you absolutely must buy your new pup from an unfamiliar source you can still do your part to help out. Here’s how.

Puppy Farms are more commonplace than you would think. Puppy Farms exist the whole world over. Why are they so bad? Puppy Farms (also called Puppy Mills) keep numerous dogs in cramped conditions with poor sanitation and little food. The dogs are often kept in tiny cages, are fed whatever the owners can spare and are bred relentlessly with the sole aim of making their owners a profit.

To help you spot potential Puppy Farmers we put together a helpful list of points to look out for. If you suspect you have found a rogue breeder then you ought to report them to the relevant authorities.

Some ways to tell if your puppy was raised at a puppy mill:

1. The most obvious sign of a Puppy Farmer is that they will not be able to produce either of the pups parents. No parents means the dog has already been separated – usually too early. If your breeder won’t let you meet your pups mom and dad (at least the mom) then read on and see if they meet any other criteria.

2. The second thing to ask is if the parents were vaccinated. If the mom is up-to-date on shots. If not, there may be a distinct possibility that this breeder doesn’t care much for their animals. They should know this information, and if they don’t know both parents bear in mind that they therefore cannot be entirely sure of the lineage.

3. You will be able to tell a lot about where the breeder meets you. Purchasing from a reputable dealer you will often find you are invited to their home. If the address is a warehouse in an industrial estate don’t bother going. A dodgy breeder might also want to bring the puppy to you or meet at a neutral spot, so be wary of that, as well.

4. Once you meet your breeder, ask them specifically how many breeds they own. If it is more than two (or three at a maximum) then the chances are that they are a Puppy Farmer. Puppy Mills often carry as many breeds as possible, reputable breeders tend to keep their dogs at home and in comfort, and more than three breeds is hard work for a household.

5. Ask how many pups are for sale. A normal litter is between five and eight puppies (with exceptions), if there are eighteen (etc) puppies for sale then you know that the breeder has multiple pregnant dogs from different breeds, a clear indicator of a Puppy Farmer.

6. Ask what age the puppy is. Puppies shouldn’t be taken away from their mothers until “at least six weeks,” but eight weeks is recommended (and in some cases, state law). If the puppy is younger than that and the parent is nowhere in sight then alarm bells should be ringing.

7. Hygiene can be another clue. A new puppy smells much like a new baby. A puppy from a Farm will smell like a kennel. They will often be dirty in appearance and their coat is unlikely to be shiny.

8. Paperwork is important. If you are buying a breeder’s dog they will provide you with paperwork assuring you the dog is a registered pedigree. If you are not buying a pedigree of course you cannot get this certificate – however – a good breeder should care where their pups go. Your breeder should draw up some kind of paperwork that states what happens if the dog needs to be returned etc. They will often also want to call you to check in. A good breeder wants to know their dog has gone to a good home. So, look for a contract and the breeder questioning YOU (fenced in yard, do you have a home or an apartment, etc). A Puppy Farmer is a lot less likely to care. If their only concern is that you have the money and no other questions, contracts, or applications, it is more than likely a puppy mill or backyard breeder. Also, they should care with pairing you with the RIGHT dog.

9. If you are buying from a pet shop make sure to inquire about the dogs parentage. A good shop will keep records, a bad shop might be dealing in out-of-State Puppy Farmers. Always ask. In general, you should shy away getting dogs from Pet Shops, as many of them are obtained from puppy mills.

10. Deception – if you think you are being deceived then don’t buy. Do a little research. For example; if you want a small dog learn which breed of small dog specifically you would like. If you then go to a breeder armed with this information you are less likely to be fooled. Puppy Farmers are notorious for telling you what you want to hear and will make all sorts of wild assurances to make the sale. It is hard to tell when you are being lied to, but much easier if you know exactly what to look for in your prospective pup!

There are other things you can look for. If the dog seems unhealthy in any way then a good breeder will know what is wrong with them and be able to tell you how to go about fixing it. A good breeder will also have a reliable phone number, and possible multiple ways to be contacted – not true of a Puppy Farmer, who will often change numbers to avoid angry retaliation from clients. Small clues you might look out for in the dogs behavior include being afraid of humans, a generally nervous disposition and anything else that indicates that the animal has been kept in dark or cramped conditions. Puppy Farm pups are often kept in wire cages and you might see signs of this on their paws.

In general, be wary of bad breeders and report anything suspicious until no dog has to endure such a terrible life.

The website, Bailing out Benji has a solid list of known puppy mills broken down by state: https://bailingoutbenji.com/puppy-mill-maps/. Generally, you will be able to see a correlation between heavy Amish communities and known puppy mills in the area. For example, the 3 largest Amish counties in the United States, are also the 3 largest counties in those states with known puppy-mills. So, not all Amish run puppy mills; however, this is why it’s important to do your research!

So, if you are going to get a puppy from the Amish, Pet Stores, or unknown breeders: do your research! Ask for references, ask to meet the parents, meet at the place the dogs actually live, see the living conditions of the dogs, and their appearance of health!

If not, you could be stuck with a dog filled with a life of behavior or health issues.

If you have any questions, contact a trainer or vet near you to see if they have more information!

www.offleashk9training.com
info@offleashk9training.com

Natural Remedies to Help Prevent Ticks On Your Dog | Off Leash K9 Training

 

In many parts of the US and the world, ticks are a big problem for dogs. They burrow their heads into the skin of the dog and feed on the blood of the dog. Many ticks carry diseases that can seriously harm your pet and some breeds of ticks can even be lethal to animals. Because they are small and hard to find, often taking refuge in dense hair or within your pet’s ears, they are hard to see and often owners don’t know that their dog has picked up a tick until the scary symptoms require a rushed trip to the vet. There are a lot of chemical products that are supposed to keep the ticks away, but there are several natural solutions that might help as well.

 

Check your dog regularly.

Using a fine toothed comb, brush down your dog regularly, checking the skin carefully. Don’t forget to check inside the ears and between the toes as well. Removing ticks can be difficult if you have not done it before, so ask your vet for a demonstration first to make sure you can remove the tick completely and without causing any damage.

 

Sprays
Apply tick repellent sprays directly to the coat. You can use a lemon, cut into quarters and put into a jar of boiling water overnight. The next day, spray it over your dog. Watch your dog carefully the first couple of times to ensure there is no allergic reaction. If there is any negative reaction at all, discontinue use. Do not use on cats as they will lick it off their fur and it will make them sick.

 

Apple Cider Vinegar Mix On Dog’s Coat.
This type of vinegar works much the same as garlic does, by making your dog less appetizing to the tick. Add some apple cider vinegar to water and apply to your dog’s coat.

 

Rose geranium oil.
A couple of drops applied to your dog’s collar is said to get rid of ticks. Do not use this remedy with cats, as they will lick it off and poison themselves.

 

Peppermint Oil.
Applying peppermint oil on a tick, will often times make them “back out” of where they are burrowed on you or your dog!

 

Herbal tick collars.
There are several brands of herbal tick collars now available. Check out your local pet store or talk to your vet for more information.

It can be scary or just disgusting to find a tick on your dog. With the recent movements towards natural remedies, these alternatives to toxic and dangerous chemicals have proven effective in radically reducing the chances of infestation. Because they’re safe and natural, you can use these remedies at the same time to ensure that your dog remains tick free and you never have to dig them out of your dog’s skin ever again.

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Why Just Using Positive Reinforcement Does Not Work | Off Leash K9 Training

Dog Training in Northern Virginia

 

Positive reinforcement is something we get asked about in Northern Virginia, a lot! People are always told about the magic of positive reinforcement. While it is an effective tool, unfortunately there are many  occasions where it is not as effective as you would like. For instance, a lot of the self-rewarding habits that your dog has can be very difficult to break simply through the use of positive reinforcement. No matter how much you try to offer treats or praise, you find that these are habits that you just cannot break your dog of. But there is hope for you.

Self-rewarding habits are problems because the habit itself is more rewarding to the dog than any praise or treats that you could offer him. If positive reinforcement is going to work, it needs to be better than the reward they get from doing the act you are trying to stop. If there is nothing better to offer your dog, then you really need to consider some of those negative reinforcement training methods that you have been told are so bad for your dog. I have never seen an amazingly obedient dog with distractions that was trained solely through the use of positive reinforcement.

The concept of negative reinforcement is to offer your dog an undesirable stimulus that inspires the dog to stop by complying with your wishes. To put this into an example that you can understand, maybe you are trying to teach your dog the command “come”. If positive reinforcement was not working, you can consider putting your dog on a leash and lightly pulling on it when he does not come when called. Eventually, the dog will get annoyed enough that he will listen. From here, you offer a treat as positive reinforcement. After a while of this technique, your dog will listen to your “come” command. Combining negative and positive reinforcement will make a huge difference in training your dog.

Some people who are opposed to negative reinforcement view this as beating your dog until it becomes submissive. The reality is you are just annoying your dog into complying, not causing any actual pain to him. While there are some methods of training that do cause very small amounts of pain, for the most part the discomfort is kept as low as possible to ensure that learning is going to be accomplished.

There are some things to remember about this technique. It should never be used on puppies under the age of 4-5 month. You really need to know if your dog is ready for it. If you notice it is very bothersome to your dog, you need to stop. Remember to follow up with positive reinforcement to keep your dog happy. When your dog is trained properly, you both are going to have an amazing life together.

If you want a dog that is reliable in any and all situations, contact Off Leash K9 Training!

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Getting A New Puppy For Christmas | Dog Training In Northern Virginia | Off Leash K9

Picking the Perfect Christmas Puppy
If there’s one surprise that is sure to bring your family untold levels of joy during the holidays, it’s a puppy (unless of course you didn’t discuss it with your spouse, but that’s on you). Many dog professionals claim that it is a bad idea to bring in a new family member that needs a lot of attention during the already hectic holidays, but that doesn’t mean you can’t. If you’re determined you can bring a puppy into the fold during Christmas and make everyone, including your new pet, happy.
That said, you’ll need to decide what kind of dog you want to get! There are a lot of things to consider for such a decision, including where you are going to find a dog, what kind you want it to be, and so on. These are just a few of the things you should discuss with your family (or just consider yourself if you’re in charge of the process) before coming to a decision.

What size dog do you want? Do you actually want more than one dog, and what gender do you want? Should you get a puppy that will require a ton of attention or an older dog that won’t need as much? And of course what kind of breed do you want? A dog specifically raised by a breeder, or maybe a rescue dog instead? And do you want a purebred or a mutt? The answers to all of these questions are personal preference, and will likely determine the kind of dog you want to get.

After answering all of those questions, you should make a short list of the dog types that interest you the most, and then try to find some you can visit physically, whether at an animal shelter, a local breeder, or something similar. After all, you may think you want a certain dog (a St. Bernard maybe?), but if you haven’t physically interacted with that dog you can’t know for sure. And considering that you’re bringing a new member into your family, you want to be absolutely certain that the dog you choose is right for you. Of course, it’s important to remember that you can find a great dog in any breed.

And you don’t have to pick the very first puppy you see either. Sure, most of us don’t want to say no to a puppy of any sort, but remember that you’ll be spending several years with the dog you choose, so picking one that matches your preference the best is important. As for finding out which dog is likely to come into your life with as much acceptance and happiness is possible, it’s pretty easy to test during your visit. A dog that will come to you is moderately comfortable with people. A dog that follows you around is fond of you, and one that will snuggle with your physical compliments is unlikely to bite. Just be on the lookout for stress signs, such as physical withdrawal or unusual panting, as these are signs that the dog doesn’t really want to interact with you.

If you need training for your new puppy, contact Off Leash K9 Training!

www.offleashk9training.com

Should My Dog Sleep In My Bed? Dog Behavior Training in Northern Virginia

While sleeping with your dog is generally enjoyable for both owner and dog, sometimes it doesn’t work out as planned. This is because the dog doesn’t understand their role in the household.

Years ago, dogs played a much different role in a family. Most dogs were working animals on a farm. They had to herd stock or protect the farm. Rarely would a dog sleep inside the home; they usually slept in a barn or under the porch. Dogs had to earn their keep.

Today, most dogs are kept as family pets. They are treated as children and loved upon. While this is fine, dogs are unable to find their place in the family. They are stuck between being a dog, a pet, and an almost-human. When this occurs, a dog will no longer view you as their alpha.

Many people allow their dogs to sleep in their bed. For some dogs, this will never result in an issue. Unfortunately, some dogs begin to show aggression towards their family members. They are asserting themselves as equal or higher above their human. We have seen this lead to territorial aggression a lot. When this occurs, there are a few things the owner needs to do.

-Remove their bed privileges. The first thing that you must do is to remove the dog from your bed. Place a dog bed, or crate, on the floor and don’t allow them to join you. The simple view of you sleeping above them will prove your message.

-Remind him that you are the alpha. Your dog must be reminded that he is dependent upon you. Your dog should sit before being let outside and sit before being fed. Don’t let your dog eat before you have eaten.

While you need to assert yourself as leader, do so in safe ways.

If your dog’s aggression issues continue, it’s time to consult a Off Leash K9 Training professional dog trainer. We have many tips and tricks to address the aggression. Never hesitate to call.

There is no rule about whether or not to allow your dog in your bed. It is quite often a dog-by-dog basis. Watch for signs of aggression, and act quickly if any are noticed. Reversing the situation can be easy if caught quickly.

-Nick White
Owner/Founder
Off Leash K9 Training

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Classical Conditioning vs Operant Conditioning: Dog Training

Classical Conditioning

The operant conditioning technique
This technique involves reinforcement, or punishment, for your dog upon completion of a behavior, a lot like you might train your children.
It’s voluntary, your dog is an active participant in this process whether the behavior is positive or negative. Rather than rewarding your dog every single time it displays the correct behavior, evidence actually suggests it is far more effective to do so at random to ensure that he will always behave that way. We don’t generally think about our dogs in terms of science and psychology, but actually that is exactly what dog training is – scientific and psychological studies have been carried out and highly support operant conditioning training (http://blogs.scientificamerican.com/thoughtful-animal/what-is-operant-conditioning-and-how-does-it-explain-driving-dogs/). A lot of the dog trainers you see on television use the operant conditioning technique, and so do zoo keepers and animal handlers. While B.F. Skinner gets the credit for it, he merely expanded on it and popularized it- it was first mentioned by Edward L. Thorndike in the early 1900’s.

The classical conditioning technique
This is probably most associated with Ivan Pavlov’s dog experiment. It’s involuntary behavior, an automatic response. This limits the scope of the classical conditioning technique because it is simply an instinctive response, it’s the basics, but don’t let that put you off. There is value in these techniques just as much as there is in the operant technique (http://www.blongs.scientificamerican.com/thoughtful-animal/what-is-classical-conditioning-and-why-does-it-matter/). http://www.scientificamerican/com/extinction-countdown/lions-vs-cattle-taste-aversion/). Because the idea behind classical conditioning is simply creating an association between two stimuli to garner the desired response it can be adopted and adapted in creative ways. For instance, there is a wildlife conservation that was employing the technique in an effort to prevent the lions from preying on all of the cattle (http://www.scientificamerican/com/extinction-countdown/lions-vs-cattle-taste-aversion/). When you open a packet of dog treats and give one to your dog it will know from then on that that sound means a treat, but the sound can also be created by any packet of food. So, there’s a pretty good chance that when you open a bag of chips, or cookies, your dog’s ears will be quick to perk up at the sound. Your dog takes regular trips to the vet, and he gets there by car in his dog carrier or crate so whenever you get that crate out there’s a good chance your dog might respond poorly as that carrier, regardless of what you have it out for, might mean a trip to the vet. Your dog loves to go for walks and you keep its leash in the hall cupboard, so every time you go to the hall cupboard for your jacket, or to put the vacuum away your dog bounces from wherever he was hiding, excited at the prospect of going for walks. These are natural responses from your dog based on the everyday classical conditioning he is exposed to.

-Nick White
Founder/Owner
Off Leash K9 Training
www.offleashk9training.com
info@offleashk9training.com

Operant Conditioning: What Is It? How Does It Work For Dog Training?

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Operant conditioning is, “a type of learning in which the strength of a behavior is modified by its consequences, such as reward or punishment, and the behavior is controlled by antecedents called discriminative stimuli which come to signal those consequences.”

To break down operant conditioning, there is what’s called the operant conditioning quadrant. This quadrant is made up of: Positive Reinforcement, Negative Reinforcement, Positive Punishment, and Negative Punishment.

Now, as you can see, this quadrant is broken into two categories which is: reinforcement and punishment.

Reinforcement is used to INCREASE the behavior in a dog. Punishment is used to DECREASE a behavior in a dog.

Now, look at negative and positive like math! Negative, you are removing something or taking something away. Positive, you are adding something.

Let’s break down each one…

Positive Reinforcement:
This is doing things such as marker training with your dog, he gives you a desired behavior (sit, down, heel, place, etc), you immediately give him a desirable reward such as a treat, a ball, a tug or praise. Again, positive, so you are ADDING a reward.

Negative Reinforcement:
This is training such as prong collar or ecollar training. Negative reinforcement means something already present is removed (taken away) as a result of completing a behavior and the behavior that led to this removal will increase in the future because it created a favorable outcome. A good example would be the seat belt in your car, your car “dings” annoyingly until you put it on. So, you generally put it on quickly in order to avoid the nagging. Again, negative, so you are TAKING AWAY the nagging.

Positive Punishment:
This involves presenting an undesirable outcome or event following an unwanted behavior. An example of positive punishment is if your dog jumps up on you, then you correct him with an ecollar or knee him off of you. You have given the dog an unwanted outcome following an unwanted action. An easy example of this, would be something as simple as a hot stove. If you touch a stove, immediately after, you get burned. So, this decreases the likelihood you will do it again. Again, positive, so you are ADDING something (adding an unwanted outcome).

Negative Punishment:
This is when you REMOVE a highly desirable stimulus for your dog displaying an unwanted behavior. For example, if you are trying to get your dog to sit or down; however, he is not paying attention, so you take away his ball/tug. An easy example of this would be two siblings get into a fight over who gets the new toy, so the parents simply take the toy away from them. Again, “negative,” so you are REMOVING something (the toy).

A lot of balanced trainers use the entire quadrant in some form or another when training dogs.

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