The best in health, wellness, and positive training from America’s leading dog experts

Positive Conditioning

The Right Tool at the Right Time

Few dogs behave in ways that please us all day every day – especially puppies, adolescent dogs, or newly adopted adult dogs who have little experience living closely with humans. Training" is what we usually call our formal efforts to teach dogs how to behave in ways that please us more – and most frequently

Make Positive Training Fun!

What do you want, you crazy dog? Jennifer Wade said with a smile to her diabetic alert dog

Karen Pryor: Positive Training Icon

In 1985, upon publication of Don’t Shoot the Dog!: The New Art of Teaching and Training, written by the now-famous proponent of canine clicker training, Karen Pryor, some people were confused. Was it actually a dog training book? Because it talked an awful lot about changing the behavior of humans!

Positively Winning!

The team glides across the obedience ring with the precision of Olympic synchronized swimmers. As the handler strides into the 180-degree about turn, the dog remains in perfect heel position. There’s an obedience title at stake, and so far, the team is on-course to qualify. And then it happens: the dog misses an exercise. The team has just been disqualified. There are two extreme alternate endings to this scenario.
two dogs standing apart for counter conditioning training

Counter-Conditioning and Desensitization (CC&D)

Counter conditioning and desensitization (CC&D) involves changing your pup's association with a scary stimulus from negative to positive. The easiest way to give most pups a positive association is with very high-value, really yummy treats. I like to use chicken – canned, baked or boiled.

Counter-Conditioning and Desensitization for Reducing Dog Reactvity

Counter-conditioning involves changing your dog’s association with a scary or arousing stimulus from negative to positive. Desensitization is starting with a very low-level intensity of aversive stimulus until the dog habituates to (or changes his association with) the aversive, and then gradually increasing the strength until the dog is comfortable with the stimulus at full intensity. The easiest way to give most dogs a positive association and to help them become comfortable with a stimulus is with very high-value, really yummy treats. I like to use chicken – canned, baked, or boiled; most dogs love chicken. Here’s how the CC&D process works.

Touch/Restraint Desensitization Protocol

Touch dog’s shoulder with one hand, feed treat with other hand, remove both hands. Repeat multiple times until touch to the shoulder elicits an automatic look for the other hand to arrive with treat. Move touch process to various other parts of dog’s head and body until a touch anywhere on the dog elicits an auto-look for the delivery of a treat. Pay extra attention to any body part where your touch seems to elicit a more intense response from the dog.

An Extreme Inappropriate Response

Many years ago, when I was a Customer Care Supervisor at the Marin Humane Society, in Novato, California, we received a frantic phone call from a woman who had glanced over her fence and noticed her neighbor’s adolescent Dalmatian tangled up in her tie-out rope so badly that she couldn’t move. Rushing to the address, the Society’s humane officer did, indeed, find the tangled dog, but there was something suspicious about the scene. The rope was coiled and knotted so neatly around the dog’s legs that it left no room for doubt in the officer’s mind.

Been There, Doing That: Advice from Pro Dog Trainers

I think it’s really important for dog trainers to get a lot of experience being a student before becoming a teacher. Take as many classes as you can, in numerous disciplines, with your own dog. You’ll learn how different classes are structured and what you like and don’t like about them. When not actively working with your own dog, observe the other students and see how the instructor works with a variety of dogs and people.

5 Ways to Train Without Treats!

Food treats are an easy and effective reward for a dog when training. But food rewards are only one way to build strong behavior. There may be times when you do not want to or cannot use food, and there may be times when the best reinforcement is something other than a hot dog! Here are five great ways to reward your dog when you don't want to reach for the treat pouch.

5 Things to Do the Next Time Your Dog Grabs Your Stuff and Runs

Your dog grabs your stuff and runs away either because she knows you're going to take it from her and she doesn't want you to, or she's inviting you to join in her a fun game of Catch me if you can." In either case

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