Positive Dog Training and Behaviour

QEL code 961
CPD 5
Estimated Study Time 5 Hours
Start Date Anytime
Study mode Online
Award type Certificate
Assessment Method Short answer questions to confirm your knowledge
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Course fees £97

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Unit # 1

This course takes a look at canine body language, essential for training dogs as we need to know what they are communicating and how they are feeling.

We then look at the learning principles of training and how to train/change behaviours in a positive, force free way.
We also have a look at some of the myths surround puppy behaviour and how we can train them.

The course covers clicker training, operant and classical conditioning using some video examples, along with some of the terms used in dog training.

Positive dog training and behaviour

Training can be started at any age, the sooner the better. Simple, positive training can be carried out with puppies, but older dogs are also receptive to training.
Sessions should be kept short to avoid the dog becoming bored.

The first thing we need to do is establish what the individual dog enjoys, what will motivate him. Some dogs enjoy food, but others are more motivated by toys or playing. Some dogs may prefer off lead opportunities.

Understanding reinforcement is the key to understanding how dogs learn. Any one day consists of behaviours that are either reinforced or not reinforced. In dog training, trainers provide reinforcement when they provide consequences that increase or maintain a behaviour.

Positive dog training and behaviour Training can be started at any age, the sooner the better. Simple, positive training can be carried out with puppies, but older dogs are also receptive to training.

Sessions should be kept short to avoid the dog becoming bored.

Positive dog training

Primary Reinforcements are related to biology. Examples are food, drink, exercise, and off lead exercise. For some breeds of dog, visual stimuli can be primary reinforcers, for example, some dogs that love to chase birds find the sight of a field full of birds reinforcing. Knowing dog breed traits becomes very important when deciding on what reinforcements to use. Secondary Reinforcements are related to social conditions and can have a cultural context. Examples are praise, smiles, attention, toys and affection..

The ability to understand and use shaping is essential when teaching dogs new skills. People often use shaping unintentionally without knowing it.

Think about the old way people used to train their dogs to toilet outside using newspaper. Newspaper is placed on the floor and the dog is encouraged to toilet there, receiving praise for doing so. Gradually the newspaper is moved closer and closer to the door until eventually it is taken outside, gradually shaping the dog to toilet outside.

NB This is not a practical way to housetrain and can actually cause dogs to continue to toilet indoors.

Many dogs enjoy Shaping as it helps them to ‘problem solve’ and provides them with mental stimulation.

Shaping can be used to teach complex behaviours by breaking them down into easy, achievable stages, ensuring the dog is successful. It is important to ensure we set dogs up to succeed when training, as they will quickly lose interest.

Food and play are often of “high value” to many dogs and we use them to reinforce or reward wanted behaviours. Praise can also be used as reinforcement once the dog knows what it means, and treats have been faded out using a variable ratio schedule.

When training a deaf dog, we often use a hand signal such as a Thumbs up sign to represent “good dog” as they are unable to hear. Obviously, this takes time to “pair” with something pleasurable.

Systematic desensitisation is a type of cognitive behaviour therapy developed by South African psychiatrist. Joseph Wolpe developed the idea of systematic desensitisation (SD) in the 1950’s, based on a principle of classical conditioning.

His therapy aimed to remove the fear response to a phobia and substitute a relaxation response to the conditional stimulus by using counter conditioning.
Patients would initially be taught a relaxation technique involving control over breathing, relaxation of muscles and even meditation.


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