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    The Fundamentals of Dog Training

    Dog training can be broken down into 3 key components. These components affect the dog’s ability to understand and grasp new concepts we are teaching them.  


    1- Timing

    This is absolutely crucial for the dog’s learning and understanding. Their association ability only stretches to around .5 seconds which means our reward or correction must occur right away. The concept of proper timing is for the dogs to connect the dots and form accurate correlations which then turn into training cues.

    2- Consistency

    It is either always OK or never OK… No some times. Inconsistency is not fair and sends mixed signals to the dog. Simply decide what the rules are and stick to them… 24 /7. Dogs will only continue to push the limits if the limits continue to change. When you cannot be there to reward or correct the behavior then do something to prevent it from occurring all together.

    3- Motivation

    Just like people, dogs can be motivated by different things. By using a combination of both positive and negative measures and matching their distraction level, we are able to impact a dog’s decision making by giving him a reason and incentive to listen. This means rewards for good behavior and consequences for bad behavior. 

    really special animals dog training


    Just like there are 2 sides to every story, we give the dog all the information by using both positive and negative motivation. Knowing there are rewards for doing good and consequences for doing bad, the dog can then make an informed decision about their behavior.

    We believe in a balanced approach of both ends of the spectrum because we know that positive feedback can only take us so far. There are times that you could wave a steak in front of your dog’s nose and he could care less… what then? Well, that’s where the negative motivation comes in.

    Now negative doesn’t have to mean abusive or harsh. Its not about dominating your dog, being tough or showing him who is boss… its about proper and clear communication that builds both trust and respect. 

    Positive Motivation = “YES”

    Fun and desirable items or actions such as food, toys, play and affection can all give reason and pressure to sway a dog’s decision making in the right direction. Build a definition into the word “YES” as a positive.

    Negative Motivation = “NO”

    This is where leash and collar pressure are used to ensure safe and proper decision making. A quick tug and release or pop to the dog’s leash/collar to interrupt and disagree with his behavior allows the opportunity for us to redirect and the dog to then choose differently. Build a definition into the word “NO” as a negative.

    Of course there are pros and cons to every tool we use so it is important to realize both the potential and limits of each and utilize them accordingly. 


    1)    Food

    + Highly motivating/valuable
    + Creates a fast response
    + Increases reliability
    – Not always able to compete with distractions
    – Confining
    – Fuels both good and bad behavior with excess amounting to frustration 

    2)   Leash

    + Direct line of communication
    + Physically contained
    + Controls lack of impulses
    – Transfers frustration
    – Short range
    – Limited potential

    3)   Remote Collar

    + Off leash control and communication
    + Boundary training
    + Long range
    – Common misconceptions
    – Easy to miss use
    – Needs to be charged

    Its our job as the humans of the situation to take control and lead the way for our pups to follow. Every dog is different and we get to figure out which approach and amount of pressure works best for each one individually. 


    Communication is huge and gets to be crystal clear in order for the dog to fully understand what it is that we are asking of them. We often times say “oh he know what I want, hes just not doing it”… does he really though? Consider these 4 pillars of communication and evaluate if there is a way that you could possibly clarify and enhance the message of what it is you are asking for.


    1)   Scent = Food

    Dogs are actually born blind and deaf and truly view the world through their nose. Control the dog’s food and only feed during training.

    2)  Sight = Body Language

    This sense allows visual cues and gestures to be interpreted much like sign language. Getting the dog to pay attention to us and using special pressure is huge.

    3)  Sound = Tone

    Every noise has an association and therefore cues a certain behavior. Positive and negative markers such as “good” and “no”.

    4)  Feel = Touch

    The physical and tactile way of delivering a message to one another. Utilize the leash to your advantage.

    Overall, the fundamentals of dog training are crucial. From the 3 key components (timing, consistency and motivation) to giving both sides of the story with positive and negative motivation to realizing the pros and cons to each approach as well as understanding the 4 pillars of communication (scent, sight, sound and feel) are all necessary for successful dog training. Keep in mind that every dog is an individual and what may work for one dog, may not work for the next. Training multiple dogs is about being flexible and reading each situation accordingly. Dogs are absolutely incredible creatures and they truly deserve our very best efforts to understand and communicate with them effectively and lovingly.  

    If you would like to learn more about private dog training at Really Special Animals you can contact us here.