Hi, it’s Linda from Cause and Effect Dog Training, again.

In video number 9, we are going to cover how we go about the training process and what’s involved in that. The first thing that I would urge you to do is learn how to read your dog’s body language. Training is all about communication. And if we don’t know what our dog is trying to tell us, then it makes the whole process a lot harder for us. And that’s especially important when we start taking our dog into different environments that he’s not used to.

For example, if your dog is standing with very stiff body posture, with his tail straight up in the air, ears forward and very focused, he could very well react badly to a situation or another dog. If your dog is standing with a more loose and relaxed body posture, is relatively calm, and his tail is wagging in a neutral position, then he is more comfortable in his surroundings.

One of the biggest myths that we see in dog training is people thinking that if their dog’s tail is wagging, then everything is fine. It’s about where it is wagging and how it wagging. There’s a lot of different things you can look up on the internet about dogs’ body language. Getting familiar with that is really, really important to begin with.

When we start looking at training our dogs, many people will say – “He doesn’t listen to me. He does whatever he likes”. There really are only three basic reasons your dog won’t do what he’s asked. The first one is that he physically can’t do it. So if you asked your tiny dog to jump in the back of your 4wd ute, he obviously couldn’t comply. The next reason is your communication isn’t working. He’s not understanding what it is you are asking. Perhaps you haven’t spent enough time training him in what it is you’re asking and being very consistent and precise. The last one is a motivation. Is your dog motivated to do what you are asking? In modern dog training, we use a lot of positive reinforcement to build that motivation in our dogs to want to do things for us. A motivated dog is much more reliable and happy to do what we ask of him.

We often see little dogs, who may be anxious or nervous. Small dogs tend to be treated differently to large dogs. Many families openly say that their dog is spoilt and runs the house. For many dogs, this is a very stressful situation to be in.

There really are only three basic differences between a little dog and a big dog. The first is how much damage a little dog can do if it behaved aggressively and bit. They have a small mouth with little teeth. They can cause damage but not to the degree of a large dog. The next reason is how much damage a little dog can sustain if it was bitten and how badly it would be hurt. And the last thing is what we let them do.

When we actually look at starting the training process, there are three phases or steps of that training. The first phase is a teaching/learning phase. We spend a lot of time positively reinforcing our dogs, to teach them what it is that we want them to learn, being very clear, consistent and building motivation. The teaching phase is so important. You are a lot better spending more time in this step to make sure that your dog clearly understands what it is as you’re asking than moving too quickly.

The next phase is what we call the training phase. This is phase where your dog has been taught exactly what it is you’re asking. He knows what it is you’re asking. But just like children, sometimes they’ll push boundaries. In the training phase, we start bringing in consequences for incorrect choices.

A consequence, as I’ve covered before, doesn’t have to be anything physical. It should never be used inappropriately or in anger. It is just something that your dog does not find enjoyable or rewarding.

The last phase is what we call the proofing phase. The proofing phase is where your dog clearly knows what it is you’re asking. He understands that there’s consequences for following commands. In this final phase, he is expected to do as asked in all different environments and different situations. Getting to this level, takes time, patience and consistency and shouldn’t be rushed.

The last thing to remember when we start training our dog is we have consider how we are feeling and how our dog feels on any given day. The dog feels everything you feel, especially when you’re connected by a lead. If you have a day where you are not really feeling like training your dog and you just can’t be bothered, or you’re feeling unwell, just don’t do it. It’s fine. Missing a day here and there is great. You might also find some days you go out and your dog just isn’t with it. It just isn’t happening that day. If you have started a training session and realise that it’s not a good day to work either for you or your dog, remember to finish on a good note. A simple “Sit” and reward is all you need to finish up for the day.