People love showing off their dog's tricks. Flashy skills like rolling over, playing dead, or sitting pretty provide lots of opportunities for fun. While many dog owners assume training tricks serves little purpose for their dog beyond entertainment, they're quite wrong! Training tricks offers many health benefits for dogs both young and old. Trick Training Provides Mental Stimulation Make no bones about it -- mental stimulation, science says, is just as good, if not better, than physical exercise! Working your dog's brain offers great opportunities to stave off boredom and reduce excess energy. Learning tricks requires your dog to focus on the new skill or behavior, master it, and link it with a cue. Performing tricks on cue means your dog has to sort through known behaviors and cues, select the correct one, and then do it! That's hard work that occupies a lot of brain power and mental juice. If you don't have enough energy to train tricks, try some of these other tools for increasing mental stimulation for your dog. Training Tricks Builds Strength Many tricks require your dog to use their body in ways that aren't common in day to day life. Sitting pretty, commando crawling, standing on hind legs, perching, pivots, and many other common dog tricks work your dog's core strength and body awareness. Training tricks builds strength, enhances mobility and flexibility, and allows your dog to get a nice workout while having fun. Remember to start slowly and built up duration and intensity. Performance in the beginning may not be awesome, but don't give up -- keep practicing and your dog's physical capabilities will improve. Tricks Help Bond Dog and Owner One of the best ways for dogs and owners to bond involves spending qualiy time together. Playing, grooming, and, you guessed it, training, all offer ample opportunities for bonding. Learning tricks helps handlers hone training and communication skills. It assists dogs in furthering knowledge and capabilities, while also letting them practice focus, learning to learn, and all kinds of other important engagement skills.
Trainers and handlers use verbal commands in dog training to communicate with their dogs. The dog learns to associate each command or cue with a specific behavior or skill. When the dog hears that command, they perform the behavior. Some of these skills are very simple, like position changes. Others are very complex, like running to the fridge to retrieve a beverage. When people think about dog training commands, oftentimes, English comes to mind first. You tell a dog to "sit" and they do it. For professional working dogs or performance dogs, though, trainers often use languages other than English for their cues. Sometimes they do so because of the culture of their breed or sport. As an example, lots of dogs who compete in the sport of Schutzhund are trained in German. For other teams, especially teams that utilize their skills in real-world environments or in public, training commands in another language is a matter of necessity. Sometimes, it's even a matter of safety! Imagine a police dog responding to a fleeing suspect who yells "DOWN" or a Service Dog who turns to respond to a mother who asks a child to "COME HERE." A large part of that can be mitigated with distraction proofing and handler focus, but many trainers find using another language for dog training cues to be simpler and safer overall. Without further ado, here are lists of cues in 5 common languages used in dog training: English, German, French, Dutch, and Czech. English Cues for Dog Training Sit Down Stand Stay Wait Come Heel Finish Kennel Retrieve Take It Drop It Go Search Shake Jump German Dog Training Commands Sit - Sitz (See-tz) Down - Platz (plah-tz) Stand - Stand (Shtahnd) Stay - Bleib (Bl-i-b, with a long "i" sound) Wait - Wart (Vahrt) Come - Hier (Heer) Heel - Fuß (Foos) Finish - Fuß (Foos) Kennel - Zwinger (Zuh-ving-ehr) Retrieve - Apport / Bring (Brink) Take it - Nimm (Neem) Drop It - Aus (Ous) Go - Geh (Gay) Search - Such / Voran (Sook / For-ahn) Shake - Pfote (Pif-oh-teh) Jump - Hopp (Hop) French Dog Training Commands Sit - Assis (ah-see) Down - Couche (Koosh) Stand - Debout (Da-boo) Stay - Reste (Rest) Come - Ici (ee-see) Heel - Au Pied (oh-pee-aye) Finish - Au Pied (oh-pee-aye) Kennel - Chenil Retrieve - Rapporte (aport) Drop It - Halt (alt) Go - En Avant (on-a-vahn) Search - Cherche (scherch) Jump - Saute (soat) Dutch Cues for Dog Training Sit - Zit Down - Af Stand - Staan Stay - Blijf Come - Hier Heel - Volg Finish - Volg (left) / Rechts (right) Kennel - Hok Retrieve - Apport Drop It - Los Go - Voruit Search - Revieren Jump - Over Czech Cues for Dog Training Sit -
With another year nearly behind us, it's time to start looking forward to the new year. The question is simple: how can we better ourselves as Service Dog handlers, owners, trainers, puppy raisers? Setting Service Dog training goals offers an easy place to begin. Good goals provide a concrete endpoint so you know when you've succeeded. They give you a way to focus your efforts and work efficiently and productively towards what you want. Knowing how to set goals can be tricky, though! Many experts recommend utilizing the SMART goals system. SMART goals are: Specific Measurable Achievable Relevant Time-based Basically, SMART goals consist of concrete steps you take within a certain time period to achieve something specific that's quantifiable. An example of a SMART goal for dog training would be "Obtain my Service Dog's Canine Good Citizen certification by Valentine's Day." An example of a goal that does not adhere to the SMART protocol is "Train my Service Dog more." More than what? What counts as training? Does a single repetition of sit-down-stand count, or does it have to be several minutes to matter? Now, if you said, "I'd like to do 90 seconds of obedience training twice per day at least 4 days a week," now you're talking! Goals like that allow you to know whether or not you've achieved them -- there's no guessing and thusly, less stress. It's important to keep the "achievable" part of the SMART goals process in mind. Set goals you can feasibly reach so that you can succeed. When you've achieved the first set of goals, set new ones. It's far easier to start a habit of training for 3 minutes a day than it is for 30 minutes twice per day! Be kind to yourself, your dog, and your capabilities. Step One: Decide What You Want Your Goals to Be Before you can set goals, you need to know what you want to work on. Ideally, your goals involve behaviors or skills you'd like to build or improve in your dog or in your handling. Not all goals have to directly involve training your dog. Maybe you'd like to read a chapter per week of a book on canine behavior or maybe you'd like to take an online course on canine massage. By all means, though, set goals for direct interactions with your dog, too! Consider including goals for exercise and enrichment, too. Chances are both you
Many common dog training mistakes get in the way of your dog learning. Most people have no idea these common errors exist, though! While professional dog trainers make dog training look simple, it's far too easy to do it wrong. Dog training mistakes include simple things like practicing for too long plus more complicated errors surrounding timing, reinforcement, or other technical concepts. If you want to become a better dog trainer and handler, then keep reading. You'll get an overview of the most common dog training mistakes plus tips on how to avoid or fix them. Dog Training Mistakes: Training For Too Long Training for too long results in increased frustration for both dog and trainer. It also causes your dog to retain less material and, furthermore, can build a lack of focus and enthusiasm into behaviors. You don't need to train for 20 minutes at a time in order to get results. Stick to frequent, short (2-5 minute) sessions multiple times throughout the day and watch your dog's progress soar. Dog Training Mistakes: Not Training Enough Oddly enough, not training enough is just as common, if not more common, than trying to train for too long at a time. It's too easy to train your dog for a few minutes one day and then, before you know it, 4 or 5 days have passed with zero training time. Falling into this dog training trap means spending your time perpetually going back over things you've already worked on instead of building new skills and polishing old ones. Set a timer on your phone for the same time every day to remind you to do the bare minimum -- 90 seconds to 3 minutes of active, focused training on a single skill you're seeking to teach. Do this every single day. If you can, add additional sessions throughout the day for quicker progress. Dog Training Mistakes: Under Reinforcing If you want your dog to work for you, you have to pay them for their effort and attention. Trying to get your dog to work for pats on the head is akin to someone trying to get a professional photographer to work for "exposure." No one likes it and the idea is just insulting. Reward your dog frequently and well with things your dog finds valuable. Note: just because you think your dog should like something doesn't mean they do! Behaviors that aren't reinforced don't stick around. This doesn't mean you have
When it comes to training a Service Dog, absolutely nothing is more important than exhaustive socialization. Socialization and exposure to the world is the foundation upon which all other training rests, and a Service Dog who hasn't gained real-world experience via systematic socialization is not fit for public access. With this list of oft-missed opportunities, you'll be able to ensure you're hitting all the bases while socializing Service Dogs in Training. Important Considerations Before Beginning Never, ever put a vest on a dog or claim it as a Service Dog in Training that is still displaying any behavior issues that would be eliminated during basic training — including leash pulling, inappropriate sniffing, etc. There are plenty of opportunities to socialize a dog in public at pet stores which allow animals, public parks and other areas which allow dogs. Remember, your behavior and that of your dog not only effects you but other Service Dog teams as well. Before bringing your Service Dog in Training (SDiT) home, you need to have a defined plan for socializing him. While many people decide to simply take the puppy with them and introduce him to everything and anything they can, utilizing that approach results in missed experiences and an uneven education. Unfortunately, more Service Dogs are released from training programs across the country for socialization concerns than any other reason. Protect your partnership by not only picking a puppy from a source that began socialization and stimulation at birth, but by also continuing socialization, exposure and training throughout your puppy's training. Use the attached checklist or prepare one of your own that includes everything your partner may encounter as both a puppy in training and as a working Service Dog adult. By keeping track of your Service Dog in Training's education, you'll better be able to spot and fill in holes before they become an issue. The most important rule of socializing Service Dogs in Training is to never, ever, ever, for any reason, force an SDiT to approach, interact with, touch or be on/near/with something that appears to frighten them. Forcing a puppy in training to engage when afraid ensures he'll never form positive associations with the object, person, place, surface, equipment or situation. Instead of forcing your SDiT, always keep high-value treats with you and use them to encourage a suspicious puppy to explore a situation of his own accord. If you lay a solid foundation of socialization
Dog potty training. Toilet training. House training. Whatever you call it, it's one of the most basic, if not the most basic, things your new family member needs to learn. And you should begin with your puppy as soon as you arrive home. Puppies need to go to the bathroom frequently and your success and theirs depends on anticipating their needs — which at first can seem like full time job. But don't worry, with proper training, puppies learn fast! Crate training We highly recommend crate training your new puppy. Be prepared for a drama show though! Sometime between 16,000 and 32,000 years ago when dogs learned how to live with humans, they also learned how to work our emotions. At first, your dog will whine, beg and cry but be strong! Allowing your puppy to learn how to be alone for a little while and self soothe is a crucial skill, much like for human babies. Crate training helps with a number of important issues — and gets them ready for one of the most important, life-changing and underused things you can train a pet, Service or Working Dog: tether training. In the wild, a dog's den is their home — a cozy place to sleep, hide from danger and raise a family. Your crate is your dog's den, a place where they can find comfort and solitude instead of tearing up your house while you're out running errands. However, today we're talking about using a crate for house-training since dogs, by their nature, don't like to "go" where they sleep. Choose a crate that is appropriate for how large your dog will be in about a year, but when they are a puppy you may need to divide their space with a cardboard box so that they only have enough room to turn around and sleep. Come up with a command to teach your dog to enter the crate such as "kennel" or "kennel up." Do not use the crate as a punishment. It's a happy little bedroom for your dog. If you use the crate to punish your dog, they will eventually come to fear it and not want to enter. Do not leave your dog in the crate too long and be prepared to arrange your life around this. Puppies need to be taken out to eliminate about every two hours and leaving your dog cooped up too long may cause
Hearing Dogs alert their hard of hearing or deaf handlers to important sounds in the environment. Commonly trained sounds include approaching cars, fire alarms, sirens, dropped keys, and the handler's name. Read on to learn all about Hearing Dogs, where they come from, what they do, and how they're trained! Bonus: Read our step-by-step training guide at the end of this post to learn how to introduce new sounds to a Hearing Dog in Training. Hearing Dog Basics Hearing Dogs, also known as Hearing Alert Dogs, Hearing Ear Dogs, or Signal Dogs, partner with D/deaf and hard of hearing people of all ages. These specialized Service Dogs undergo countless hours of task training, during which they learn to recognize a variety of sounds and how to notify their handler of the sound. Before being accepted for Hearing Dog training, trainers test the canine candidate for sound temperament, good physical structure, and a keen, curious, social personality. Upon passing their initial temperament and aptitude evaluation, new Hearing Dogs in Training formally begin their Service Dog foundation training. They learn manners, basic and advanced obedience, and public access skills. They work on focusing through distractions and on building impulse control. After these special dogs master the basics, they begin their advanced training. For Hearing Dogs, this consists of "soundwork," or the process of learning sounds and the associated alert behaviors. Some Hearing Dogs work for people with multiple disabilities. These multi-purpose Service Dogs may be cross-trained for other Service Dog jobs and undergo additional task training. Good Hearing Dogs undergo hundreds of hours of specialized training and socialization before ever entering the field. Once teams graduate from training, they continue building their skills and bonding as a pair. Who Trains Hearing Dogs? In the United States, Hearing Dogs can be trained by a professional organization or program, or their future handler can train them. If the handler self-trains their own Service Dog, it's called "owner training." U.S. Federal law protects the public access rights of professionally trained Service Dogs and owner trained Service Dogs the same way -- there are no differences. Both types of Service Dogs enjoy the same level of protection. Several organizations in the United States train and place Hearing Dogs. Each has their own set of requirements and guidelines for receiving a Hearing Dog. These are a few of the most well-known programs: International Hearing Dog, Inc. - They've trained over 1,300 Hearing Dogs and have been in