|And they called him "Scout"|
Back in my teenage years, I trained English Pointers for hunting Quail. There are times, I really miss those days! Being a family man in the city now, I would get myself arrested if I tried to train hunting dogs in our area. So, I have decided to try my hand at learning to train a service dog.
Back in the 80's when I was learning how to train dogs, a lot of the professionals out there were teaching me how to train using some painful methods like shock collars. For more reasons than one, I decided to revamp my training techniques to be more positive, exciting and healthy for the dog. So, I have been doing a lot of research around positive training techniques thus eliminating the choke chains, pinching and shock collars. And, replacing it with treats and "The Clicker". So far Scout and myself are very happy about that and it is proving to be very effective!
I have been reading a book called, "The Power of Positive Dog Training 2nd Edition" by Pat Mill. One of the things I like about this book is that the author came from a similar training background like what I was taught and she switched as well. So, there is a lot of insight there that I like. After working with the positive techniques for 3 weeks now, I will have to agree with Pat Miller that it can be difficult to come up with a positive training solution to some problems. But, it can be done and I like the challenge because it is really making think through and understand better the dogs behaviors.
I am still going through the book but I wanted to point out a couple of interesting take a way items from the book so far.
- "The Clicker" is a good behavior marker. It's not the reward, it's the sound that tells the dog that he/she is doing good behavior right then and they should expect a treat coming. And, it is modeled after the same training used for dolphins and whale
- Start simple with the clicker. Teach them their name first!
- Chapter 7 is fantastic in describing the differences around offered behaviors and elicited behaviors and how to take advantage of both. And, it does well explaining management vs. Training.
- Doggy Day Planners - it's a great way to remember where you are at with your training over time.
- And, finally, I think she does great helping you understand and bridge the communication gap looking at your body language and the dog's body language.
As a progress report, after 2.5 weeks of training, Scout has mastered "sit", "down", "come", "stand" and "find". We are now working on "stay". And as far as behavior challenges, well, we have to work on the whole chewing up things that aren't his toys. I have lost my sandals and wallet so far. But, he is still just a puppy! :-)