Positive Dog: Trainer Academy

We recently launched our Positive Dog Trainer Academy, with our first trainers in training attending our induction evening. Working with our day care dogs, you will gain practical experience alongside learning the latest training methods via an easy to follow syllabus of written learning material. Working at your own pace you will learn more about dogs from handling, to obedience training to learning behaviours.

If you would like to join us your will need to be able to commit to around three hours per week Mon-Sat between 9am and 6pm. email woof@dogsplaypark.co.uk to register your interest.

Below is a small sample of what we discussed on our induction evening.

Dogs Playpark Ethics

When handling and training dogs we only use force free/aversive free methods.

We do not use any form of physical punishment or corrections.

We do not uphold the dominance theory.

We do not use balanced training techniques.

We use modern scientific evidenced based training and behaviour modification.

We do not put dogs into situations unsuitable for them.

Aversive Free / Force Free Training

Aversive : Causing avoidance of a thing, situation, or behaviour by using an unpleasant or punishing stimulus, as in techniques of behaviour modification.

When training or handling dogs we do not add an outside influence to stop a behaviour. If an outside influence stops a behaviour it is highly likely that that influence is aversive to that individual dog. Example: Using a water spray bottle to stop a dog jumping up – if the dog stops jumping up and avoids the situation and spray bottle this would be aversive to that individual dog.

We do not train with fear and intimidation. We teach a dog what to do not tell it what not to do.

Positive Reinforcement

Positive reinforcement is a training method where we add a reward to a situation to reinforce a behaviour we like. 

Positive = add something   + 

Negative = take away something  

Positive reinforcement works alongside negative punishment. We add (+) our affection when a jumping up dog sits. We take away (-) our affection and ignore the dog when it jumps.

This reinforces the right behaviour we want, but does not give any reinforcement to the wrong behaviour.

How Dogs Learn

Dogs behave out of habit and emotional responses. Behaviours repeat themselves due to reinforcement. Behaviours stop because of no reinforcement or are supressed through aversive punishments. When a dog behaves out of an emotional response to a stimulus this is called classic conditioning. When a dog behaves through a learnt behaviour using its brain to a stimulus this is called operant conditioning. When a behaviourist changes a dogs emotional response to a stimulus to a new response this is called counter conditioning.

Examples

Going for a walk:

A dog sees it’s owner take out it’s lead for a walk. The dog’s natural emotional response to this is excitement and is displayed through jumping up and running around. This is a classically conditioned response. We now train the dog to sit and wait patiently for it’s lead to come out and be put on. The dog is still excited however, is now choosing to sit and wait for the reinforcement (the walk). This is an operant conditioned response. 

 A dog reactive dog:

The initial emotional response is fear and this is shown by the dog reacting with growling, barking and lunging. A classically conditioned response. We work with the dog and produce food when other dogs enter the vicinity. The dog now associates the arrival of other dogs with the food being produced. This changes the emotional response to the arrival of other dogs from scary to tasty. This is counter conditioning – modifying a new emotional response.

Clicker Training & The Clicker

Clicker training is a method of dog training using a small device to make a short distinctive click to mark a desired behaviour, the click marks the exact behaviour and the dog associates this with the reward that is given. Clicker training has been proven to be one, if not the best way to train many intelligent animals especially in the early stages of learning something new.

clicker training

Click DURING the desired behaviour – timing is everything during clicker training!

Dogs who are clicker trained are acting out of purpose to earn a reward not out of habit. Meaning that as a dog is learning or has learnt something new they are actively thinking and choosing to display the behaviour, which is much more effective, than doing something out of habit.   

Dogs who are trained with the use of a clicker are enthusiastic and want to learn new behaviours, they even remember behaviours years later as they were aware of them as they leaned them. They become more confident as they have some control over the outcome of their actions. Leaving you with a happier, healthier, better trained dog.

Rewards & Environment 

When rewarding your dog your reward must match your environment. In certain circumstances your reward must be better than the distractions around you. When training a dog it is important that we advance our environments slowly. This can be as simple as perfecting a behaviour inside the house then moving to learn the same behaviour in the garden. You would not teach a behaviour at home and then expect your dog to be able to perform the behaviour in the middle of a park with multiple distractions.

Most dogs like food and good quality dog treats, make sure to use a higher value treat in new environments with multiple distractions. For example in the home you may use a standard kibble, but training out on the street you would want to use something more tasty that your dog would rarely get the chance to eat. The more demanding the situation the higher value treat you would use. Rewards don't always have to be food based, we use affection, toys, balls etc... We can can use whatever works on a particular dog. We would also phase the use of treats out as the dog progresses through their training.

Want to learn more? Email your interest at woof@dogsplaypark.co.uk