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consuming, repetitive homework. Once you and your dog learn the basics, you can do short sessions.


GOOD D G!


Positive Training Yields Fast Results by Sandra Murphy


Dogs love to learn and live to please at every age. Teaching a pet good manners, social skills and YouTube-worthy tricks are great ways to build a bond and have fun, too.


“W


hen a fearful or shy dog associates a new situa- tion with good things,


the dog blooms. I love to see it,” says Victoria Stilwell, of Animal Planet’s It’s Me or the Dog. “It’s the basis for posi- tive reinforcement training.”


Stilwell explains that her method, known as Positive Dog Training, is


all about spotting and rewarding the behavior you like as it happens. “Thus, the good behavior is likely to repeat, encouraging the dog to learn to live in a human world successfully.” Each dog has his own idea of the best reward— some favor toys, some work for food, others simply want approval. Training doesn’t have to be time-


The Clicker Method A click of a small noisemaker used in training lets the dog know when he’s just done the right thing. As soon as we see the behavior, we’ll click faster than our brains can tell our mouths to say, “Good dog!” For example, to train “Watch me,”


sit down with your dog, the clicker and some tiny treats. If he focuses on the treats or looks away, do nothing. If he glances at you, click and toss him a treat. A few click/treats later, your dog will figure out he did something to make the reward happen. Be prepared, because that thought will be followed by a very deliberate look at your face. Af- ter that, training will move at high speed. “Work on the basics first,” counsels


psychologist Linda Michaels, owner of Wholistic Dog Training, in San Diego. “Four commands—sit, down, wait and come—will get you started. You can do mini-training sessions throughout the day, such as ‘sit’ for breakfast or dinner, ‘come’ when called, ‘wait’ before going out the door, and ‘down’ during televi- sion programs. Continue practicing during commercials.” “How my service dog, Hunter,


figured out what I needed and how to help me, I don’t know, but I have great respect for the intellectual abilities of dogs. Training is a way of opening com- munication; just like with a human, you can never be sure where the conversa- tion will take you,” remarks M. Shirley Chong, a professional clicker trainer in Grinnell, Iowa. “Positive training lets a dog be your friend, not a boot camp soldier obey-


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