Four Keys to Training Your Dog.

Reinforcement

Dogs engage in a behavior because it is a reinforcing behavior.  For example: The dog jumps in the pool so as to feel cool, the dog scratches on the food bowl so as to get fed.  Also, the dog stares at you and barks so as to get you to feed him from the table, or the dog jumps up on you so as to get your attention.  These examples are about a dog doing something to get a desired consequence.  At one point in their history, the action paid off with a desirable consequence to them, and so they do it again.

In dog training, we take advantage of this fact of life and teach the dog that a particular action on their part will result in a positive consequence.  In other words, we reinforce that particular behavior.  So, in training, we will be strengthening the behaviors we want by rewarding them with food, praise, toys etc.

Consistency

When training your dog, you are essentially teaching him a new language- the language that will serve as a communication bridge between you and him.  What this means is that you must always be clear and consistent.  The rules being taught must always apply so as to not confuse him.  Think of dog training as a black and white concept, as opposed to a gray one.  Gray areas are obstacles to the bridge we are building because they don’t give the dog sufficient feedback.

Timing

The amount of time it takes a dog to associate the consequence of an action with the action itself is approximately 1.5 seconds.  In other words, you have a 1.5 second window of opportunity to teach a dog something.  For example: the dog sits beautifully, right after he is told to do so- the reward should come at or very close to 1.5 seconds so as to show the dog you are happy with his actions.  The longer you take to react after this, the more unlikely it will be that the dog associates the action he preformed, with the consequence you provide.

Attitude

When training your dog, there is really no room for anger.  Anger tends to frighten a dog, which will only set you back in your training and get in the way of your bond with him.  When the dog behaves in an undesirable fashion and we feel anger, then it is best to leave the training for a later time when we feel more even-tempered.  It is important to have fun with your dog during training.  Indeed, it requires discipline and attention on both of your parts, but it should be a happy, entertaining activity that you both enjoy.  That will only increase the likelihood of your dog’s full attention during training and help strengthen your relationship

Teach Your Dog to Roll Over

Get your dog to lay down in front of you. Once he is down, encourage him to go to a hip (whichever side your dog favors).  Now take a treat, show it to your dog. Keep the treat close to your dog’s nose and move the treat slowly over the dog’s shoulder towards his backbone. Your dog should turn his head to follow the treat. At first you may have to place your other hand on your dog’s back to prevent him from standing up.

The further back you move the treat, the more your dog should twist his neck to follow the treat.  If the neck twists far enough, the body will follow.  Once his legs are in the air, continue using the treat to lure him all the way over.  Remember to label the command with one word such as ‘over’ or ‘rollover’. Be consistent with the command you give every time you work with your dog on roll over. Until your dog knows what is expected by the command, only say it as the dog is doing the trick. Always give him the treat when he is all the way over.

With practice, your dog will no longer need you to lure him all the way over. You will be able to say your command and make a rolling signal with your index finger to cue your dog to roll over.