The computer buffs say whatever you put in a computer it gives it back to you-garbage in and garbage out. In other words whatever you feed computer works with that data only. A computer works on the simple logic of yes or no. Dogs have lots of similarities with computers. Programme a computer and it gives you the end product. Teach a dog something and it begins to perform and behave. Not only that, a trained dog learns to understand master's spoken language and thus become an asset for the family. But there is a subtle difference between a dog and a computer, a dog with some amount of logic in his brain applies his mind and performs even outside the ‘programme’! While a computer works on conditions of Yes or No, a dog learns by reward and correction.
Being a pack animal from the moment he is born, a dog begins to associate experiences with good or bad. Thus he also learns by association of ideas. For example, if you give a slap to your dog every morning followed by a reward of a tidbit of his choice, he would wait for slap daily. He uses his instincts and senses and learns to survive. Always remember he is a creature of routine and his biological clock is precise. If you set a routine for him then please be meticulous to maintain it.
A domestic dog of course faces a problem. He is not a linguist, yet he has to understand whatever the master says and act accordingly.
A dog despite his handicaps probably understands all the languages of the world!
At last it appears like that to us, in reality with his greater hearing power he makes out the subtle changes in the tone and act accordingly. Therefore while communicating with your dog use minimum words; long sentences are a no, no and speak in hushed tones only.
It is common to hear shouts of owners at night, trying to recall their pooch that has strayed out in search of a play mate or a mate. Their shouts make no affect on the pooch as he knows that responding to them means getting locked up for the night and he continues to ignore. Majority of the owners at that time say that their pooch is cunning and pretends as if he has not heard them. Yes no doubt the pooch ignores their calls, but not that because he is cunning, but because he knows he will be punished if he goes back.
Programming a dog is not that difficult as a computer. Actually the trick lies in establishing a dialogue. Since a dog does not have a spoken language and he fails to understand the gibberish of the owner, programming or communication or starting a dialogue becomes the issue. The day you develop the technique of this communication you become a successful trainer.
In order to train a dog you have to first train yourself, self discipline is important. Yes it is important because as I said earlier dog is a creature of routine and once you set it you have to stick to it. Thus no late nights if you have set a routine that includes a walk at 10PM. Dog actually does not learn your language, he simply obey and tries to please the pack leader, that is you.
Imagine a pack of dogs with their leader. In case a pack member breaks the discipline the leader will not just shout No, he would rather growl menacingly and if that does not work he may even go close and physically stop the wrong doer. Similarly if a pack member behaves well the leader will immediately reward him with a lick. Likewise you have to act swiftly. Always remember that while commanding a please make sure that in case he falters you will be able to make him do it. Similarly if he is doing something wrong and you know that your shouting No will not actually stop him, please be swift, kneel down to his height, physically stop him saying No or Stop in a rough growling tone and look sternly in his eyes. He will surely stop doing the mischief. At that stage use all the honey in your voice praise him being a good boy and if required do reward him further with a tidbit.
Dog training thus revolves around timely reward and corrections. The reward and corrections both can be manipulated with change in tone-a sweet one for reward and a harsh tone for punishment.
Never Hit your dog with your hands or a stick.
Your hands should be appendages of reward and caress for him and stick may be meant to ward off other animals. Your hands are important for him and as you will progress through these blogs you will realise the significance of hands.
Eye contact amongst all animals (carnivores specially) is a challenge. Therefore use it only while admonishing your dog and that too under dire situations. Usually a training session should be a happy, play like situation for a puppy. At the end of the session do pat him on the chest and release him with an Okay.
Since ours is a spoken language, it is best to teach a puppy or dog with a verbal command. Gradually you may add a hand signal as well, so that at some stage you may be able command the dog with a hand gesture only. Dogs have an uncanny power of observation and any change in your facial expression does not go unnoticed. You can use this to your advantage by developing a typical frown while conveying your displeasure and a smile to show him how happy you are.
To me dog training is more like acting. One need not be really angry with the dog even if he has soiled your costly rug. Because in his society peeing at a spot which smells good or a place where to mark his territory is considered normal, poor creature does not know the cost of the rug! But certainly you have to convey that what he did was wrong. In case you catch the dog in such an act and admonish him, it’s fine, but no point shouting at him after a few minutes. Suppose you find your pet chewing your best sandal. Instead of creating a ruckus best is to sit on your haunches, look straight in to his eyes with your angriest frown, point a finger at him and say a harsh No. In all probability he will let go of the sandal. If he does not, hold him by the scruff of the neck and give a jerk in addition to a harsh No and your angry look. He will let go the object. At that stage your acting skill comes handy. Despite the loss you have suffered you have to give a cheesy smile and shower praises on the pup because he has let go the object.
While using a verbal command please ensure that it is preceded by his name. For example you may command ‘Bozo (pause) Come’ instead ‘Bozo you idiot dog come here else I will…’ Commands of long sentences to dogs sound similar to the sermons of the mathematics teacher to most of us. I have repeated many times but it is worth repeating again that since their hearing power is tremendous, no point shouting a command. Whispered tones are enough. Always use a particular hand gesture for a particular command. You may beckon him with your hand while you ask him to Come. Similarly you can use a Stop signal while teaching him to Stay.
Rewards can be in the form of a tidbit, sweet tones, caresses under his chin and back and his favorite toy in case of an adult dog. Once they learn to associate leash with outings, even a leash acts as a reward. The idea behind a reward is two fold. While it gives a momentary pleasure to the dog and he associates it with it, he also learns soon that his master is happy. Similarly correction conveys him the opposite. Being a pack member he can not afford to keep his leader unhappy. Thus he has no option but to obey.
Many people ask when to start the training? Dog training is nothing but a system of communication. Therefore it starts the moment you hold your pup for the first time and cuddle him close to you. That first cuddle itself conveys to him that the new boss is extremely good. Thereafter his training continues throughout his life. Dog’s retaining power is not as good as ours. Therefore continuous repetitions are a must so that he does not forget his lessons.
As said in the beginning there is a similarity between a dog and a computer. You have to programme your dog for everything, from house training to grooming to general obedience etc. Some people say that our dog was never trained as such but he behaves well. Like some exceptionally good children there are exceptionally good dogs as well. They do not need much training as such and apparently remain well behaved. But such dogs if trained become extraordinary dogs. A trained dog is an asset to the owner and a pride of the family. An untrained rowdy dog is a nuisance for the visitors and hated by the neighbors.
Through these blogs learn the art of garbage in and garbage out and your dog will be adored by everyone.
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