Tuesday, July 05, 2011

REVIEW: Training Your Dog the Humane Way

Training Your Dog the Humane Way
Simple Teaching Tips for Resolving Problem Behaviors and Raising a Happy Dog
by Alana Stevenson
Paperback: 256 pages
Publisher: New World Library (May 24, 2011)

9781608680184_500X500

In Training Your Dog the Humane Way, animal behaviorist and dog trainer Alana Stevenson provides dog parents with a simple, accessible guide to the most effect positive dog training techniques available.  She provides readers with the basic principles of animal learning so that they can effectively prevent and remedy behavioral problems using a humane, positive approach rather than punishment. Alana provides easy-to-follow and highly effective methods and advice for teaching dogs polite manners and for resolving ongoing behavior issues. She provides solutions for such problems as house-soiling, play-biting, separation anxiety, fear of strangers, aggression, lunging while on leash, car sickness, and more. She teaches readers how to teach their dogs the way animals learn best, through kindness and benevolent leadership. 

Often, new pet parents make the mistake of allowing puppies to "be puppies" and wait to begin training.  When asked what age you should start training your dog Alana says, "As early as you can, providing your puppy is old enough to walk and play. Your puppy can learn instantly through rewards and humane training. Keep training sessions fun, easy, and brief. Always end on a successful note. Incorporate teaching and training into your life as opposed to having one long drawn out training session."

Alana's best advice to dog owners is "Be kind to your dogs. Exercise your dogs. Don’t jerk them on the leash. Play with them regularly. Let your dogs sniff on walks! Let them be a dog and enjoy their goofiness. If you have energetic dogs, speed up your walks. Pay attention and reward your dogs for performing behaviours you desire. Don’t use pinch, choke, or shock collars. Set your dog up to be successful and manage problems early on, instead of creating problems or trying to undo problems later."

I was happy to find out that Alana shares the same "adopt, don't shop" philosophy that I do!  When asked if she recommends certain breeds, Alana replied "Adopt an animal from an animal shelter. Tens of thousands of animals, dogs, puppies, kittens, adult cats are killed daily in shelters and animal control facilities. They are all great pets and wonderful animals. Many never get a chance. There are 6 week old puppies and kittens killed in gas chambers regularly on a daily basis in many shelters. To buy a dog from a breeders, when there are thousands of animals in need to me is just irresponsible. The AKC makes a lot of money from puppy mills and high volume breeders. There are many purebred dogs who end up in shelters too. Animals in shelters need homes more than breeders need your money. Petfinder.com is a good online resource to find animals in need of caring, lifelong homes."

The following article by Alana is a great basic training tool.

Teaching Your Dog to Walk Nicely on Leash
By Alana Stevenson

We have all seen, and many of us have had, a dog who pulls forcefully on the leash when going on a walk. Walking is clearly unpleasant for both the person and the dog. If you have a dog who pulls excessively, fear not. You can teach your dog to walk nicely with on leash using these caring and effective techniques.

1) Reinforce and reward all attention your dog gives you. When your dog is attentive to you, he will look at you or in your direction. If you cannot get your dog’s attention while out on a walk, you will not be able to communicate with him. Start in a quiet location -- indoors is okay. Make a high-pitched noise or sound that has intonation or inflection, such as a perky “Hey,” or make a clicking noise with your tongue (most dogs respond well to this). The moment your dog looks at you in response, pop an extra delicious treat in his mouth. Repeat this exercise until your dog quickly looks at you when he hears your cue. When taking the attention exercise outside, practice at times when it is relatively quiet and in locations that are not too busy or distracting.

You can also shape attention by simply praising and treating your dog every time he looks at you or glances in your direction while on a walk. Your dog will look at you and check in with you more frequently. If your dog obsesses over you looking for food, ignore him for a little while. Wait until he stops focusing on you or he looks at something else and becomes mildly distracted. Make the fun attention noise you’ve been shaping. The moment your dog looks at you, praise him and give him a mouth-watering treat. Your dog will begin to look at you when there are distractions outside. Keep rewarding your dog until he checks in with you regularly. Your dog will naturally start to look at you for guidance and direction.

2) Acknowledge and reward your dog for following you without physically forcing or pushing and pulling him to do so. Exaggerate your body language when you walk, turn, and stop. Give your dog positive verbal feedback and reward him for copying you. If you turn, and he turns with you, praise and treat him. When he stops after you do, tell him how great he is. Then cue his behaviors by labeling what you do on walks. For instance, when you stop at a curb, he will too. Tell him to “Wait” as he stands next to you. Then give him a treat. When you start walking again say, “Let’s go.” As you turn or change direction, make a little attention noise before you turn, and say “This way” -- you get the idea! Treat him when he turns with you to follow. You are now labeling his behaviors so he can learn to take cues from you.

3) Make walking fun! Your dog’s walk is for his benefit. It is his time to de-stress and enjoy himself. People often are impatient when dogs stop to sniff on walks or when they stop to look at something. They pull or yank their dogs to follow them. Allow your dog to sniff on walks. He will enjoy his walks more and therefore, will be more responsive to you when you give him an instruction or want him to follow you. When your dog stops to look at something, let him. Then say “Let’s go” and praise him for continuing to walk with you.

If you have a dog who likes to chew, take balls or sticks on the walks with you. Let your dog chew or play with the toys, balls, or sticks while you walk together. Your dog will enjoy his walks and your company. He will be much more interested in you, and there will be less disconnect or conflict on the leash.

4) Speed up your walks and vary the pace. Dogs have four legs and a low center of gravity. They walk faster than most people run. Forcing a dog to walk behind you is uncomfortable and extremely unpleasant to him. It sets up a confrontation with your dog when there is no need for one. By quickening the pace of your walk, your dog will pull less and he will get more exercise. If your dog wants to walk quickly, pat your thigh and say “Quickly,” then run with him. Reward him for running with you. Slow down, and then praise and treat him for walking with you again. By allowing him to walk at a more normal pace for him, he will be more relaxed and more attentive to you.

5) Jerk less. Instead of yanking your dog or keeping the leash tight, maintain a relaxed leash. Dogs have an oppositional reflex, which means the more you push or pull against them, the more they will push or pull back in return. This is your dog’s automatic response, regardless of his age or breed. If your dog pulls you or steers you in a direction you do not want him to go in, instead of yanking or pulling back on him, lock your elbow and stiffen your arm, or simply stop for a moment. He will stop what he is doing and slow down or check in with you.

In summary, by praising and rewarding your dog for looking at you, turning with you, and stopping when you do, and by making walks fun and interesting for your dog, he will be more attentive and responsive to you. You’ll both be able to enjoy walks again.

Based on the book Training Your Dog the Humane Way. Copyright Ó 2011 by Alana Stevenson. Reprinted with permission of New World Library, Novato, CA.

About the Author: Alana Stevenson is a professional dog and cat behaviorist, humane dog  trainer, and animal massage therapist. She is a professional member of the Animal Behavior Society, Association of Animal Behavior Professionals, Association of Pet Dog Trainers, and the International Association of Animal Massage and Bodywork. Her articles on humane training and behavior modification have appeared in American Dog, NOVADog Magazine, and the UK-based K9 Magazine. Visit her website for more. 

3 comments:

SissySees said...

Sounds like a good book. A friend just had to have "private lessons" for her adult dog, and one of the first things the trainer told her was that the dog needed his WALK. If she wanted to walk for fitness, that should be a separate event.

Bubblesknits said...

I had always wondered about the theory that you're not supposed to let your dog sniff or be distracted while on a walk. My kids would be highly annoyed with me if I never let them look out the car window when we went for a drive, ya know? I take Micro outside just to be silly in the yard. He loves to roll and drag his belly through the grass. You can tell he's having fun. :)

Dog training nz said...

This is such a great idea! simple and beautiful, very inspiring!