Communication Skills

We will communicate with our dogs most often using sounds and touch. Sounds are broken down into markers, and commands. Touches include leash/collar pressure, touching with our hands, touching with objects, and touching with stimulation from a remote collar. Simply put, we are trying to connect signals to responses, reliably.

Markers

Markers are used when/after a dog does something. It's helpful to think of markers as serving two functions

  1. They take a "picture" of the behavior you are targeting
  2. They tell the dog what consequence is coming next

We use the following markers, each with a distinct meaning:

  • "Okay" or Click - End of behavior. This is followed by praise, petting, and a treat if you like.
  • "No" or "Stop" - Do not do that. This is followed by some kind intolerable punishment.
  • "Wrong" - That was incorrect, try something else. This is followed by nothing.

A clicker may also be used in place of "OK".

Praise and Petting

Praise and petting are acknowledgement and encouragement to your dog. They do not mean that they can stop doing something you've asked. Keep in mind that the way you praise and pet can affect your dog's behavior. So do your best to use them judiciously and productively. Additionally, use common sense. If you are away from your dog, use verbal praise. If you are near enough to your dog to touch them, use praise or petting, or both. 

Commands

Commands are used to tell the dog to do something. This is the standard list of commands that we use. Yeah... I said "commands" as in, not optional.

  • Name - stop, look, listen
  • Here - come towards me and sit directly in front of me looking me in the face
  • Heel - walk on a loose leash with your head in line with my leg
  • Sit - sit with your backside firmly on the ground
  • Down - lay down with your elbows and belly touching the ground
  • Kennel - climb on or in and object
  • Leave It - ignore something and do not make contact with it
  • Out - stop making contact with something
  • Off - four paws on the floor
  • Quiet - be quiet

Pressure and Release

Sometimes we can't motivate our dog to freely do what we need them to do. In those cases we will apply physical pressure to them to force them to do what we want. That doesn't mean it's a high level of pressure, just that it's enough to make them choose to comply. When they do, we release that pressure. Pressure is applied through the use of a training collar.