1. Work=play=work. All play is fun and so all work should be as well. If your dog makes a decision during play (example he grabs his toy without being invited to do so) you are reinforcing his right to make decisions during working with you as well (ahh, maybe I will chase the cat rather then practice A Frames right now!).

2. POSITIVE does not equal PERMISSIVE. This is the guiding principle of Say Yes Dog Training. You must be consistent. If a behaviour is acceptable at home (example the dog choosing not to lie down when told) it is also acceptable during work. Approach training and home life with a patient disposition and a strict application of what is and isn’t acceptable. Training happens 24 hours a day 7 days a week; your dog is always learning regardless if you are actively training or not!

3. Behaviours are shaped by CONSEQUENCES. Be aware of what is reinforcing your dog. Review and alter your list of reinforcers as your dog grows up, especially the “activities that reinforce” section.

4. Use your RECALL, to evaluate your relationship with your dog. Be diligent at making improvements each day in the level of intensity your dog has for working with you. Work at building a better relationship with your dog rather than making excuses for his performance. Work with the dog on the end of your leash -- and turn him into a dog other people wish they had!

5. Be aware of what RESPONSE you are rewarding each time you give out a cookie or toy. What did you click—did you see eyes? Did you want to see eyes when your dog is performing that skill? What did you intend to reinforce? Does the dog know?

6. VIDEO at least one training session every second week. More if possible. If progress isn’t as fast as you think it should be for one particular skill, video three or four consecutive training sessions of that one skill (each video clip should be no longer than 3-7 minutes). Review each video individually upon completion – then view and evaluate the entire series. What did you reinforce? Can you pick out why your session isn’t progressing as fast as you would like? If you can’t critique it yourself, ask a friend to review it with you.

7. THINK, PLAN, DO, REVIEW (Bob Bailey). Plan your work and work your plan. Time your session or count reinforcements so you don’t train your dog to exhaustion. Do not begin to train until you have worked through your mechanical skills and planned where you will deliver your rewards. Keep your training session short! After each session, write in a journal recording your progress and plans for future sessions. Do what will assist you reaching your goals; do not get wrapped up in “finishing as sequence or exercise”. Do what is best for your dog!

8. MIX UP YOUR REINFORCEMENTS so that you are working with toys and food. Only offer a reward you know your dog will want. Once a reward is offered, do not accept your dog not taking it. You can use food to reinforce an attempt to play (or the other way around) but never use food to reinforce a dog that has declined the opportunity to play or decided to stop playing. What would you be rewarding? Of course you would have rewarded your dog for making the decision to NOT play with you (and remember work=play).

9. Whenever frustration sets in remind yourself that “YOUR DOG IS A MIRROR IMAGE OF YOUR ABILITIES AS A TRAINER”. Only when you take ownership of your dog’s shortcomings will you be able to turn them into attributes.

10. CLICK FOR ACTION REWARD FOR POSITION. (Bob Bailey) If your dog barks after each click and you feed them, what are your reinforcing? When initially shaping or re-training skills. it is important to deliver your rewards as soon as possible after the click (1-3 sec) – remember the reward reinforces everything the dog does between the time he hears the click and when receives his reward.

11. Train to IMPROVE YOUR WEAKNESSES. All of us tend to practice what we are good at, or the dog we find easiest to train, it is reinforcing for us. If there were exercises you felt uncomfortable with this weekend it could be a result of a weakness in your current training program. Be sure to work short sessions on the skills you are not as graceful at performing.

12. Bob Bailey attributes training problems to: timing, criteria or rate of reinforcement. Have someone observe your timing with your clicker, alter your criteria so your dog can succeed and keep your rate of reinforcement as close to 70% as possible.

13. Cheap responses once rewarded will always be lurking (Bob Bailey). Be aware of ‘what else’ your dog may be doing when you click him for a desired response (i.e., barking).

14. Are you a double L? (…a lurer & a lumper) Your dog’s lack of progress may be due to your not “splitting” the desired behaviour into small enough responses. Be certain you are returning the hand that delivers the treat back to starting position after each rewarded response. Work to create a “thinking” dog not a dog that needs to be prompted by you before he can begin his work.

15. YOU CAN’T HAVE SPEED WITHOUT UNDERSTANDING. Got D.A.S.H.? If you are working many new environments and you start each session with the maximum amount of “D”, the “S” will come once you have the “A” Do not try to make your dog be fast until he first understands how to be correct without prompts or lurers from you.

16. WHAT IS YOUR CRITERIA? Identify it, learn it, work it live it. Maintain criteria, ALWAYS. The easiest thing to do is to train a behaviour. It is a far, far more difficult thing to do to maintain your criteria for the life time of your dog. That is what makes a great trainer.

17. Don’t ever ignore your dog while training. If you are getting further direction or clarification from an instructor, tug with your dog or, hold his collar & stroke him or put him into a relaxed position or in his crate. What ever you do, do not finish an exercise and turn away from your dog to talk to an instructor; it shows a lack of respect for your canine partner. Your dog should always be recognized for his effort to work with you.

Say Yes Dog Training
2780 Dunmark Road, Alberton, ON L0R 1A0