PlayTyme Papillons
PlayTyme Papillons  

Training Tips

Learning in the Real World

PlayTyme Papillons

Sorry this is a bit deeper then many of my other training articles

A branch of psychology that endeavors to enlighten how a species gains knowledge and understand things can be described in a process known to behaviorists as “Learning Theory”. This consists of several diverse types of learning styles such as, operant conditioning, instinctual reactions, social facilitation, observation, conventional instruction, recall, mimicry, and classical conditioning. Learning is both art and science and additional people are finding that an understanding of learning theory helps in accepting behaviors. (Wag’N’Train)

Pavlov’s experiments made a type of learning called Classical Conditioning very famous. The basics of the experiment are that scientists, under the direction of Pavlov, offered food to dogs and then calculated how much they drooled. After this was established, he started ringing a bell right before the food was presented to the dogs. After a while, the dogs began to drool at the sound of bell, however they did not drool at first until the dog food was given. The dogs learned to connect the sound of the bell to the offering of food, which became equal to the appearance of food. They also learned that if food was taken away and just the bell sounded eventually the dog would stop drooling to the sound of the bell. (Psychology)

The use of Classical conditioning is to train an automatic response to a stimulus. (Wag’N’Train) In other words if I ring a bell I can get my dog to drool using Pavlov’s methods. Stimuli are called primary or unconditioned stimuli if the animal or person reacts without training. This includes food, water, pain and other instinctive stimulus. Secondary stimuli are things the dog has learned to like or dislike. i.e. the use of a shock stimulus.
While classical conditioning is important in learning, it is operant conditioning that has produced incredible results especially to those of us who train animals. While Thorndike, Watson and Hull were some of the early behaviorists who researched operant conditioning, B.F. Skinner did the most advanced research and is credited for his extensive study in learning theory. He is known as the behaviorist’s behaviorist. (Psychology)

The idea that reinforcement, is better than reward because when used properly it can produce lasting predictable results. Reinforcement can also be used to increase duration of a behavior. Operant conditioning can also increase the likelihood that a certain behavior will be repeated. For example, if a family member calls you, and you are genuinely delighted to hear from them, the likelihood that they will call again has probably increased. However, if that family member were to call and you accused them of never calling and not caring, you have probably decreased the likelihood that they will ever call again. This is the law of effect, which Thorndike studied and developed. (Psychology) We use operant conditioning without even knowing we are doing it. Our response can be a positive or negative reinforcer and increase or decrease the likelihood that a behavior will occur.

Timing and variable schedules play an important role in learning theory. Whenever a reinforce is used very latently, the learning is probably not associated to the correct behavior. When a reinforcer is used to early, it is called bribery, because there is not behavior yet to reinforce. Reinforcement needs to match the behavior in order to be effective. If you ask a whale to make a 22 ft jump straight up in a pool of water, a simple smelt will not be a sufficient reward to have the behavior repeated. “Larger rewards cause bigger prediction-errors and lead to faster learning than smaller rewards.” (Rose 2009)

Shaping behavior does not have to be a continuous faucet of learning opportunities. According to “The Relationship Between the Number of Training Sessions per Week and Learning in Dogs” the results of the study showed that multiple training sessions per week did not produce more learning than the dogs that were trained once a week. In fact, the dogs that were shaped once a week learned significantly more than the dogs that had many more training hours per week. The study proved that weekly training resulted in better learning performance than daily training. (Meyer 2008) This leaves you to wonder if the college concept is more conducive to learning than the high school approach.

Other factors that can affect learning are social learning and dominance ranking status. Where a dog falls in the pack can significantly affect his learning and performance. Perceived dominance ranking can have a strong effect on social learning in dogs according to “How does dominance rank status affect individual and social learning performance in the dog?”. (Pongracz 2008) The study also revealed that perceived dominance may not be the same as indisputable dominance.

Shaping behavior is breaking the desired behavior down into small understandable steps that can be perceived and results are easily obtained. Steps that are too difficult or contain too many pieces are confusing. “Raising criteria in increments small enough so that the subject has a realistic chance for reinforcement.” (Pryor pg 54) Good shaping does not have unrealistic expectations, uses variable schedules of reinforcement, focuses on one criteria at a time, and understands that there are multiple pathways to the same result. In other words, if the door is not open, a good trainer will look for an open window or another doorway. People who truly understand shaping behavior, know that training begins with understanding the individual specimen being trained.

Training is not without its challenges and conflicts and “resolving conflict involves forgiving”. (Aloff pg 109) It is obvious that some behaviors cannot be allowed, i.e. using the house as a bathroom. These behaviors cause conflict between the trainer and the trainee. Communication here is the key to success. When you are training animals who cannot speak English, you need to learn to understand what they are saying. This is private detective work at its best.

Modifying behavior is more challenging than shaping behavior that does not exist. Behavior modification means changing a learned behavior and replacing it with a new and often opposite behavior. Few trainers understand behavior modification because they only know how to shape a non-existent behavior.

Lastly, training is never stable. If you don’t use it, you lose it. Behaviors that are trained and shaped must be maintained and rehearsed without causing boredom or disdain for the behavior. Learning should always be fun and a good trainer is fun to be with. A well-trained animal is an animal that practices learned behavior, applies what has been learned and does not need continuous reinforcement or reward for the behavior to be continued. Reinforcement and rewards are different for different subjects. Just because the whale loves fish does not mean the dog will work for it. Just because one dog loves cheese, does not mean the other dog will want or even consider cheese a reward.

Scocializing your dog


PlayTyme Papillons
Puppies: Socialization/Adjustment

Keep new experiences upbeat and positive, and your dog will soon be a confident and happy companion.



Like children, puppies need a variety of positive experiences in order to become confident, well adjusted adults. As part of their upbringing, puppies should learn to get along with other dogs, children, and other people, and to accept the many strange sights, sounds, and experiences that are part of everyday life.)

Stages of Development:
Puppies pass through several developmental phases. Initial "dog socialization" begins in the litter. At seven to eight weeks, puppies start to become more independent and ready to explore their environment. This is a very good age to bring your new puppy home. Around eight to ten weeks, your puppy will probably enter a fear period. During this period, you will notice that your puppy sticks close to you and is easily frightened. Avoid loud noises or surprises during this period, and keep new experiences very non-threatening. Once the fear period passes, at around ten weeks of age, your puppy will enter the juvenile phase. He will be more inquisitive and more eager in his explorations. This is a very good time to introduce new experiences! The juvenile period will last until your puppy becomes a young adult. Watch your puppy carefully, though; some pups go through a second fear period around their fourth or fifth month.

When socializing your puppy, you must keep his health needs in mind. Until your dog's vaccinations are complete, he is at risk of catching Parvo, a widespread and deadly disease. You should be extremely careful not to put your puppy down in public places until his shots are complete. Consult your veterinarian for advice about what else may pose a health risk for your puppy.

Getting Along With Other Dogs:
Dogs have a language of their own. Using body posture, facial expressions, and vocalization, they communicate fear, anger, aggression, submission, playfulness, and more. A puppy who grows up among other dogs will learn canine language and be able to communicate effectively. A puppy raised in isolation may misinterpret cues from other dogs, or inadvertently send signals that may anger another animal.
Also, like children, puppies need to learn appropriate social behavior. When puppies play, an overly enthusiastic nip results in a yelp from another puppy. Persistent jumping on "mom" may result in a growl or snap of rebuke. In these ways, puppies learn the limits of play behavior.

A good way to give your puppy these important learning experiences is through "puppy socialization classes." Look under Dog Trainers in your phone book, or ask your local dog club or veterinarian for recommendations. You may also be able to get together with other new dog owners to form a puppy play group.
During socialization, puppies should be allowed free play time. Puppies should be supervised to make sure puppy play doesn't become overly aggressive, especially if there's a big size difference among the dogs.

Puppy socialization with other dogs begins in the litter, and should continue (if possible) throughout the puppy and juvenile growth stages. A well socialized puppy will probably mature into a dog who can be trusted to meet and play with other dogs. Note that socialization is even more important for dog-aggressive or dominant breeds. However, if you find your puppy becoming overly aggressive or overly afraid during play sessions, you should seek help from a professional dog trainer to make sure the behavior is corrected before it becomes a problem.

Getting Along With Other Pets:
For many dogs, interaction with other types of pets can be much more of a problem than dealing with other dogs. This is especially true with small animals that run away (behavior which can trigger "prey instincts" in the dog). It's best to not take a chance on allowing dogs of any breed to play with small animals such as hamsters or rabbits. Although many dogs have learned to get along with such pets, is it really worth the risk?
Cats and larger pets are usually less at risk. If you have these pets in your home, the puppy should be introduced to them at an early age. Supervise the animals when they are together, and use praise or treats to reward your puppy for good behavior. (Don't forget to make the experience pleasant for the other pet as well.)
Dogs of many breeds, when raised with cats or other pets, learn to accept them. However, for some breeds with strong hunting instincts, there may always be a risk. It's safest to choose your dog breed carefully if you know you will have other animals in the house.

Getting Along With People:
Since dogs must live in a human world, it's important for them to deal well with people. Early, positive exposure to lots of strangers, with praise or rewards for good behavior, will help your puppy grow up to become a well-behaved dog.
Invite friends to your home to meet and play with your puppy. Ask adults to crouch down and avoid sudden movements when meeting your puppy... from the pup's point of view, a human is HUGE. If you don't have young children of your own, invite friends' or neighbors' children. (Be sure to instruct children in how to handle the puppy, and always supervise play!) Puppies who are not raised around children can develop aggressive behavior toward children when they grow older. Small children, who tend to run around and make high-pitched squealing noises, can trigger prey instincts in dogs who are not used to them. Some breeds don't do well with children because of the strong prey instinct; other breeds are very good with children. If you have small children in your home, this is a very important factor to consider when choosing a dog.

As soon as your puppy's shots are complete, begin taking him to public places such as parks, where he can meet lots of friendly people. Also, make a point of introducing your dog to people of different ages and races, people in uniforms, and so on; dogs may become very wary when confronted with people who seem "unusual" in any way.
It's important to remember that you are teaching your puppy to be comfortable with people, and to behave himself around them. Behavior that seems cute in a puppy, such as nipping and jumping, is no longer cute when the dog is an eighty pound adult! Whatever you don't want your dog to do as an adult, he should not be allowed to do as a puppy. Teach the puppy the behavior you want, and discourage the behavior you don't want. Gently but firmly correct unwanted behavior right from the start, and you'll have a well-behaved adult dog.

Your well-socialized dog can still be a good watchdog. Your dog is smart enough to distinguish between people who you welcome into your home, and people who should not be there.

Dealing With New Experiences:
Everyday experiences can be very frightening for your new puppy. A pan dropped in the kitchen, a vacuum cleaner, or a ride in the car can become traumatic events that the dog will try to avoid forever after.

To prevent this, introduce your dog to as many new experiences as you can think of. Use rewards and encouragement to make the experiences positive, so your dog doesn't develop fears. (Remember to keep new experiences very non-threatening, and avoid startling the puppy, during the fear period around eight to ten weeks.)

For example, to accustom your puppy to a vacuum cleaner, first allow him to explore and sniff it without turning it on. Praise him or reward him as he explores. Then, when your puppy is a comfortable distance away, you may start up your vacuum cleaner, stand near it, and call your puppy. If he approaches, encourage him and praise him, or give him a reward. Gradually encourage the puppy to come closer to the vacuum. Repeat this experience several times, with lots of praise and rewards, and your puppy will soon have no fear of the vacuum.

To get your puppy used to riding in a car, first get in the car with him and play with him, or give him a reward. On the next "outing," drive a few yards while someone holds your puppy and praises him. Work up to drives of a few minutes; keep them short so your puppy won't get sick. Afterwards, play with your puppy so he associates the car ride with a pleasant experience.

Other experiences to work on with your puppy include getting into his crate or kennel, walking on a leash, walking on different surfaces (such as tile, carpet, gravel, sand, grass, and snow), climbing steps, and hearing the doorbell and telephone ring.

You can use the same approach to accustom your puppy to experiences that might otherwise be ordeals for both of you! Try the reward approach when brushing your puppy, giving him a bath, and clipping his nails. You should also teach your puppy to let you handle his paws, his ears, his tail, and even open his mouth without a struggle. (Remember, start with very short sessions and use praise, play, or rewards to keep the experience fun.) This basic groundwork with your puppy will make life much easier when your vet needs to examine him!

Keep new experiences upbeat and positive, and your dog will soon be a confident and happy companion.


Puppies: Basic Obedience

Experience! Reliability! Expertise!


A puppy can learn a great deal, even as early as 7 weeks of age, if learning is fun and presented in the form of gentle play. Motivational methods work best for the tender young puppy soul. Reward desired behaviors by offering toys, food and praise so the puppy wants to obey. Whenever possible, try to arrange the situation so he can't make a mistake. Never use physical punishment on a young puppy as you may damage him both mentally and physically.
Most puppies, like young children, enjoy learning, but have short attention spans. The following exercises can be done several times a day. They take just a few minutes, but will make a tremendous difference in your puppy's attitude. To establish a positive rapport with your puppy and prevent many future problems, start training a few days after your puppy settles in.
We can only offer very brief explanations here, and trainers have many variations on these concepts. If you run into problems, consult a professional trainer. A puppy can start more formal obedience training at about four to six months of age.

Move a toy or piece of food (the motivator) from a position in front of the puppy to a point up over his head and say "Sit". The pup will probably raise his head to follow the motivator and in the process, lower his rear end to the floor. You may gently help the pup at first by tucking his bottom under with your free hand. When he sits, praise the pup exuberantly and give him the toy or treat as a reward.

Show the puppy a tantalizing piece of food or a toy to get his attention. Slowly lower the toy to the floor. If needed, help him down with very slight pressure on his shoulders. (Don't put pressure on his back, or you can hurt him.) Give him the toy when he lies down, or the food,even if just for a second. Reward profusely. Later you can extend the length of time he must stay down before you give him the toy.

Have the puppy sit. Say "Wait" and back away from the puppy, one or two steps. Praise the puppy for staying. After just a second or two, reward, praise, and release. Always reward the puppy when he's still waiting, not after he gets up, so he associates the reward with waiting and not the release. If the puppy gets up too soon, simply repeat the exercise. Gradually increase the time he waits.

Get your puppy's attention with a delectable treat at about his head level on your left-hand side. Say "Strut" or "Heel" or "Let's go" (choose one and be consistent) and walk briskly forward. Let the puppy munch a bit as you walk. Go only a few steps at first, then extend the range. Release the pup and praise him. As the puppy progresses, lift the food a little higher, but do not reward the pup for jumping.

This game takes two people, and is a great way to get your puppy excited about coming to you. Person 1 holds the puppy back while Person 2 tantalizes him by waving a treat or toy in his face, just out of reach. Then Person 2 runs away, calling "Rover, Come!" in an excited tone of voice. Person 1 releases the pup, who comes running wildly after Person 2! Person 2 rewards the dog with lots of praise and gives Rover the toy or treat she was waving.
When teaching a young pup to come to you, call him several times throughout the day around the house and yard, even if you don't want him to come for any particular reason. Each time he comes, praise and reward him. (You can keep some of his regular dry dog kibble in your pocket and give him one whenever he comes if you don't want to overload him with fancy fattening treats.) The puppy will think coming to you is terrific!
If you don't have an assistant handy, try this game. Have the puppy on a loose long line or flexi-lead. Show him a treat or toy. Call his name and then say "Come!" in an energized tone of voice. If he comes to you, reward with a toy or a bit of food and excited praise. If he doesn't come right away, tug gently on the leash and move backwards, away from the puppy. If you run towards him, he may think you are playing a chase game and run away from you!
As your puppy gets a little older and more independent, the long line or flexi-lead will guarantee that he will always come when you call. This is especially useful outside or at parks where he may find many new and interesting distractions. Always reward him for coming. Never scold or punish the dog when he comes to you. (If you must punish the dog for some bad behavior, just go get him.) Don't use the "Come" command outdoors unless your puppy is on a leash, so you can be sure he will obey. Soon he will realize that he must come every time you call and that coming is fun!

Training your puppy is enjoyable and worthwhile. You will develop a rewarding bond with your puppy and an activity you can do together even after the dog is grown. An untrained dog can be a pest, a problem and a even a danger. A well-trained dog is a good friend and an asset to his family and community.

Housetraining Puppies 

An unique & memorable experience


As with most things in life, there are hard ways and there are easy ways to get things done. Rubbing a puppy's nose in a mess is an inappropriate way to housetrain. Using ample amounts of supervision and positive reinforcement is the easy way.

Starting Off On the Right Track
The first course of action in housetraining is to promote the desired behavior. You need to:

• Designate an appropriate elimination area outdoors
• Frequently guide your dog there to do his business
• Heartily praise him when he goes

By occasionally giving a food reward immediately after your dog finishes, you can encourage him to eliminate in the desired area. The odor left from previous visits to that area will quickly mark it as the place for the pup to do his business.

Timing Is Important!

A six- to eight-week old puppy should be taken outdoors every one to three hours. Older puppies can generally wait longer between outings. Most puppies should be taken out:

• After waking in the morning
• After naps
• After meals
• After playing or training
• After being left alone
• Immediately before being put to bed

Eliminating On Command

To avoid spending a lot of time waiting for your puppy to get the job done, you may want to teach him to eliminate on command. Each time he is in the act of eliminating, simply repeat a unique command, such as "hurry up" or "potty", in an upbeat tone of voice. After a few weeks of training, you will notice that when you say the command your puppy will begin pre-elimination sniffing, circling, and then eliminate shortly after you give the command. Be sure to praise him for his accomplishments.

Feeding Schedules
Most puppies will eliminate within an hour after eating. Once you take control of your puppy's feeding schedule, you will have some control over when he needs to eliminate.

• Schedule your puppy's dinner times so that you will be available to let him out after eating.
• Avoid giving your puppy a large meal just prior to confining him or he may have to eliminate when you are not around to take him out. Schedule feeding two to three times daily on a consistent schedule.
• Have food available for only 30 to 40 minutes, then remove it.
• The last feeding of the day should be completed several hours before he is confined for the night. By controlling the feeding schedule, exercise sessions, confinement periods, and trips outdoors to the elimination area, your puppy will quickly develop a reliable schedule for eliminating.

Expect Some Mistakes
Left on his own, the untrained puppy is very likely to make a mistake. Close supervision is a very important part of training. Do not consider your puppy housetrained until he has gone at least four consecutive weeks without eliminating in the house. For older dogs, this period should be even longer. Until then:

• Your puppy should constantly be within eyesight
• Baby gates can be helpful to control movement throughout the house and to aid supervision
• Keep them in the crate when unsupervised.
When you are away from home, sleeping, or if you are just too busy to closely monitor your pet's activities, confine him to a small, safe area in the home.

Nervous Wetting
If your puppy squats and urinates when he greets you, he may have a problem called submissive urination. Dogs and puppies that urinate during greetings are very sensitive and should never be scolded when they do this, since punishment inevitably makes the problem worse.

Most young puppies will grow out of this behavior if you are calm, quiet, and avoid reaching toward the head during greetings. Another helpful approach is to calmly ask your dog to sit for a very tasty treat each time someone greets him.
Direct Him Away from Problem Areas
Urine and fecal odor should be thoroughly removed to keep your dog from returning to areas of the home where he made a mess.

• Be sure to use a good commercial product manufactured specifically to clean up doggy odors. Follow the manufacturer's recommendations for usage.
• If a carpeted area has been soaked with urine, be sure to saturate it with the clean up product and not merely spray the surface.
• Rooms in the home where your dog has had frequent mistakes should be closed off for several months. He should only be allowed to enter when accompanied by a family member.
Don't Make Things Worse
It is a rare dog or puppy that can be housetrained without making an occasional mess, so you need to be ready to handle the inevitable problems.
• Do not rely on harsh punishment to correct mistakes. This approach usually does not work, and may actually delay training.
• An appropriate correction consists of simply providing a moderate, startling distraction. You should only do this when you see your dog in the act of eliminating in the wrong place.
• A sharp noise, such as a loud "No" or a quick stomp on the floor, is all that is usually needed to stop the behavior. Just do not be too loud or your pet may learn to avoid eliminating in front of you, even outdoors.

Practice Patience
Do not continue to scold or correct your dog after he has stopped soiling. When he stops, quickly take him outdoors so that he will finish in the appropriate area and be praised.
Never rub your dog's nose in a mess. There is absolutely no way this will help training, and may actually make him afraid of you.

The basic principles of housetraining are pretty simple, but a fair amount of patience is required. The most challenging part is always keeping an eye on your active dog or puppy. If you maintain control, take your dog outdoors frequently, and consistently praise the desirable behavior, soon you should have a house trained canine companion.

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