Cracking The “Come When Called” Code: Your Dog’s Best-Kept Secret”

Cracking The “Come When Called” Code: Your Dog’s Best-Kept Secret”

“Come when called,” commonly known as recall training, is arguably the most critical cue for any dog owner to perfect. While it may seem straightforward, there are numerous nuances to consider, and overlooking them can jeopardize your results. However, there’s a hidden secret that can make all the difference in your recall training journey.

Factors such as avoiding the use of food lures, gradually phasing out treats, mastering your body language, comprehending reinforcement, success rates, and introducing distance and distractions are all essential components of recall training. But there’s one element, often underestimated, that can have a lasting impact on your dog’s recall. On the flip side, if you get it right, recall training becomes a breeze. So, what is this elusive secret, and how can you unlock its potential?

To uncover this hidden gem, we first need to acknowledge that there are five crucial stages of recall training. Among them, the initial stage is the simplest yet most vital: “CLARITY.”

Let’s deep into the concept of clarity and understand why this stage, and the correct sequence of events, is of vital importance. As Winston Churchill once said, “Luck is in the taking care of the important details.”

The first stage, “CLARITY,” centers around making the command or cue “come” absolutely clear in your pup’s mind, and ensuring it works like a well-oiled machine.

This means that when you say “come,” your dog should respond fast and automatically. This process is known as “conditioning” or, for those interested in the finer details, “classical conditioning.” Why is this so crucial? Because this is what imparts the true meaning of “come” to your dog. You are conditioning your dog to have an automatic, immediate response to the word “come.” It’s not a thought process; it happens automatically and is rewarded. Understanding this concept is essential.

Let’s illustrate how classical conditioning works with a simple example: think of a dog, a bell, and hidden food. You ring the bell and then present and provide food. Crucially, there should be a delay between the bell sound and food delivery. If you repeat this process enough times, something fascinating occurs. When you ring the bell without offering any food, the dog starts salivating. Essentially, the value of the food becomes associated with the bell.

The bell alone, without food, now triggers salivation. It’s essential to know that salivating is an automatic response, not a conscious decision. In other words, the dog doesn’t choose to salivate; it occurs automatically through association. This process is known as conditioning, more specifically, “classical conditioning.”

Understanding the difference between triggering a response (classical conditioning) and reinforcing a response that already occurred with food (operant conditioning) is crucial for establishing clarity from the beginning.

Why is this understanding important? Because reinforcement (operant conditioning) rewards a behavior that has already happened, while an automatic conditioned response (classical conditioning) initiates the behavior. These are two entirely different processes, each serving a distinct purpose over time. This is a point that many people often overlook or misunderstand.

But let’s get practical, as promised. Here’s how to create that automatic conditioned response and discover the hidden gem. Pay close attention:

Important Tip: In Stage 1, your dog should be excited and a little riled up. Without excitement, you won’t achieve the speed you need in your recall training.

Stage 1: CLARITY! Your goal in this stage is to ensure that the command or cue “come” is crystal clear in your pup’s mind and that it works.

To establish this clarity and a strong conditioning foundation from the outset, conduct your training indoors, free from distractions and at a close distance. Why? Because distractions and distance can interfere with the meaning and imprinting of the word “come.” In this initial conditioning phase, you’re imprinting a swift response in your dog when you say the word “come.”

Step 1: Begin by grabbing a treat (or your dog’s most high-value reward) and stand very close in front of your pup. Get your dog’s attention with the treat, but do not use it as a lure. Simply show the treat to your dog.

Step 2: Say “come” and pause for half a second. Then move away quickly and backwards, facing your dog. Be cautious not to trip over any obstacles behind you.

Step 3: When your dog comes to you, deliver the reward as close to your body as possible. Do not ask your dog to sit or wait. Just provide the reward. You are teaching one thing: “come,” and that’s it. Introducing other commands or cues at this stage can hinder clarity and the conditioning process. This is particularly true at the beginning when you’re teaching your dog what the word “come” means.

Step 4: Repeat this process 3 to 5 times. Then take a break for 30 seconds, or wait until your dog becomes distracted with something else. Afterward, say the word “come” again. If your dog responds by coming to you, you have successfully taught your dog the meaning of “come,” and the conditioning is working. If your dog doesn’t come to you, wait for a good hour, and repeat steps 1 to 3 until your dog grasps the meaning of “come.” Stick with Stage 1 until “come” truly means “come.” Do not exceed 5 to 6 repetitions of steps 1-3, and always stop when your dog is eager for more.

Remember, you are merely associating the word “come” with an action (coming to you) and rewarding it with a treat, ball, or favorite toy. This initial stage serves as the foundation for your recall training. Without a solid foundation, all your training efforts may crumble. So there you have it, the key to unlocking the perfect “come” command!

© Gabriel Riesco, Pawmos Dog Training LLC |   All Rights Reserved Nov 2023

 

How to Foster Confidence and Self-Esteem in Your Dog.

How to Foster Confidence and Self-Esteem in Your Dog.

How to Foster Confidence and Self-Esteem in Your Dog.

According to Learning Theories, Positive Reinforcement is widely recognized as the best and, in fact, the only effective way to impart skills and build self-confidence. However, there are two subtle nuances and flaws within this statement that deserve your attention:

1. Learning skills are distinct from behavioral skills.

2. Self-esteem and resilience also develop when faced with failure and adversity, not solely in times of success.

It is crucial to emphasize that Positive Reinforcement remains an essential tool for nurturing confidence and self-esteem in your dog. Positive Reinforcement stands as the primary method for teaching dogs new tasks or skills, as it hinges on motivation and rewards. Yet, it is not the sole element at play and for many dogs it is not enough.

Let’s talk about  those two very important aspects that you should consider to build self esteem in your dog:

1. Learning Skills vs. Behavioral Skills

Boundaries, rules, and discipline fall under the realm of social behavior and coping mechanisms rather than learning theory methodologies. These are two distinct fields. To illustrate, let me share an example:

Years ago, during my tenure as a jazz musician, I began teaching music to troubled kids in the South Bronx Projects. My teaching approach was rooted in positive reinforcement, yielding fantastic results. Why? Because there were two other staff members responsible for discipline; they adeptly set boundaries and rules, maintaining clarity with the children. My role revolved around the enjoyable task of music instruction, while theirs involved handling conflict and behavioral issues. It’s evident that these roles differ significantly.

I want to stress that, in behavioral training, there is no requirement for physical corrections or the use of tools like prong collars, e-collars, or choke chains. While these tools might have their place when used by knowledgeable trainers, they do not align with my training philosophy and are not, in my opinion and experience, necessary.

2. Self-Esteem and Resilience in the Face of Challenges

Teaching your dog to navigate through distressing situations contributes not only to enhanced self-esteem and resilience but also to self-control, a vital skill in behavioral training. Confronting unfamiliar or uncomfortable circumstances and mastering them cultivates resilience and confidence. This capability enables your dog to respond appropriately and independently when confronted with conflicts. The goal is to teach your dog the ability to cope and react autonomously when conflict arises. Which is what Behavior Training exercises are about.

Relying solely on Positive Reinforcement may lead to a constant need for redirection and the offering of alternative behaviors.

In contrast, behavioral training exposes your dog to stressful situations while maintaining a manageable level of discomfort (under threshold), allowing your dog to learn coping skills, independent thinking, and the power of true choice. This fosters self-control and the development of social skills not impulse control and obedience performance skills like “sit”, “down”,  “wait”,  “place”, etc 

Consider the following example:

If another dog barks and lunges at my dog, my objective in Behavioral Training is not to command my dog to “sit” and “wait”. Instead, my aim is to equip my dog with the skill to control his reactions. It becomes his choice to either ignore the dog, attempt to facilitate socialization, or move away. These choices come from my dog’s self-control, as opposed to my direct commands like “sit,” “wait,” or “leave it.” The ability to control his responses and remain in the “green zone” characterizes Behavioral Training. Conversely, instructing my dog to “sit,” “stay,” or “leave it” constitutes Obedience Training, focusing on conditioned learning from external cues.

Let’s take another example: jumping at guests. 

Dogs jumping results from overexcitement and human reinforcement. In Behavioral Training, the goal is to teach your dog to manage his excitement during guest interactions, preventing jumping from occurring. This avoids the need for correction or redirection. Dogs naturally greet by sniffing and investigating, not by jumping. In Behavior Training we’ll teach the dog to greet guests without jumping. 

In Obedience Training, the objective is to condition your dog to “sit” and “wait” for guests. The issue with Obedience Training arises when dogs lack self-regulation, potentially breaking the “stay” command or barking while in the “place” position. The fundamental problem with this approach is that your dog is “waiting”. At some point you have to release him/her. When you do, then they usually jump on your guests. The other problem is that a lot of high energy dogs, who are usually the jumpers, will bark excessively while waiting in their “Place position”. Teaching your dog to “wait” on Place is not the same as teaching your dog to greet your guests without jumping. 

Behavioral Training exercises and methods are designed to teach your dog self regulation and independent thinking. This eventually translates into social skills and coping skills which will enhance self esteem and self confidence. Obedience Training is designed to condition your dog to obey your cues on command with positive reinforcement. Very different outcomes and methodolgies.

Trends and misleading mantras:

Now, let’s address a recent trend promoting the idea that confidence and self-esteem can only be nurtured through positive reinforcement, banning the use of the word “No,” and cautioning against establishing boundaries.

This mantra goes as follows: “Never tell your dog ‘don’t do that’; instead, teach them what to do.

As with any decision in life, there are trade-offs to consider. To adhere to this mantra, you must navigate a complex labyrinth of environmental control until your dog reaches a state of readiness. This complexity arises due to a lack of clarity regarding boundaries.

In my experience, this mantra has led many dog parents to frustration, failure, and considerable distress for extended periods of time. It does not apply universally to all dogs. I am well aware of this because I find myself busier than ever, inheriting dogs that have gone through programs and protocols failing to establish clear and direct boundaries.

There are methods to impart clear boundaries and rules without resorting to force, corrections, or dominance-based Alpha theories. This reflects my vision and what I have successfully accomplished over the past 13 years designing exercises and routines to teach dogs self control through Behavioral Training.

  © Gabriel Riesco, Pawmos Dog Training LLC |   All Rights Reserved September 2023

     

     

    Labradoodle Breed

    Labradoodle Breed

    Labradoodles are one of the most common breeds for families and for good reason.  A Labradoodle is a crossbreed between a Labrador Retriever and a Poodle. This mixed breed dog is known for its intelligence, playful personality, and affectionate nature. They can also be high energy type of dogs , so both obedience training and behavior training is highly recommended since most of these dogs are first choice for families with kids. 

    Labradoodles are also known for being low-shedding and hypoallergenic, making them a popular choice for people with allergies. 

    Because Labradoodles are a relatively new breed, there is some variation in their appearance and temperament. Some Labradoodles may have more characteristics of a Labrador Retriever, while others may take after the Poodle more.

    One of the most appealing aspects of the Labradoodle breed is their intelligence. Both Labradors and Poodles are known for their smarts, and Labradoodles inherit this trait from their parents. This makes them easy to train and a great choice for families with children.

    In addition to their intelligence, Labradoodles are also known for their playful and affectionate nature. They are happy-go-lucky dogs that love to be around people and are known for their friendly demeanor. Having said that any dog breed can develop behavioral issues, so don’t take it for granted that your labradoodle does not require any training. They can also be a handful.  

    When it comes to grooming, Labradoodles may require regular brushing and haircuts to keep their coat looking its best. They are low-shedding and hypoallergenic, but they may still require regular grooming to maintain their coat and prevent matting.

    Overall, Labradoodles are a wonderful breed that make great companions for families with children. They are intelligent, playful, and affectionate, and their low-shedding and hypoallergenic coats make them a great choice for people with allergies.

      © Gabriel Riesco, Pawmos Dog Training LLC |   All Rights Reserved September 2023

       

       

       6 Essential Tips For Crate Training

       6 Essential Tips For Crate Training

       Crate training is an effective way to potty train your dog while also providing a safe and comfortable space for her to retreat to. However, many dog parents find crate training to be a daunting task. In this blog post, I will provide you with some tips to make crate training a successful and positive experience for both you and your dog.

      1. Choose the Right Crate

      The first step to successful crate training is choosing the right crate. The crate should be big enough for your dog to stand up, turn around, and lie down comfortably. However, it should not be too big that your dog can use one end as a bathroom and the other as a sleeping area. Plastic, wire, and mesh crates are all good options.

      2. Make the Crate a Good and Calm Place

      Your dog needs to associate the crate with good and calm experiences. Start by placing treats and toys inside the crate to encourage your dog to go in. Also, place the crate in a quiet and comfortable area of your home where your dog can feel safe and secure. Use oily stinky treat crumbs and place them or hide them at the end of the crate. That way your dog will gravitate into the crate and will spend sometime inside trying to find them. Also the scent and using  their nose will make your dog more relax. Happy and calm.

      3. Gradual Introduction

      Introduce your dog to the crate gradually. Start by leaving the door open and allowing your dog to explore the crate on their own. Leave Once your dog is comfortable with the crate, start feeding them meals inside the crate with the door open. Gradually increase the time your dog spends inside the crate until they are comfortable being in there for longer periods.

      4. Create a Routine

      Dogs thrive on routines, so establish a consistent routine for crate training. Take your dog outside to use the bathroom before placing them in the crate, and take them outside again as soon as they are let out of the crate. This will help your dog associate the crate with going outside to use the bathroom.

      5. Don’t Create Excitement Around The Crate 

      Excitement and crate is oil and water. A crate is a place to relax. Don’t get your dog too excited or riled up around the crate. The last thing you want is an excited dog inside a crate. Do not confuse excitement with happiness. You can be happy calm and happy excited. You want your dog to be in the crate happy calm

      6. Be Patient

      Crate training takes a little bit of time and patience, so be patient with your dog. Some dogs may take longer to adjust to the crate than others, so don’t rush the process. If your dog is having a difficult time, take a step back and go back to the previous step in the training process.

      Crate training is a useful tool and a greta skill for your dog to have. It also provides a safe and comfortable space to retreat to. By following these tips, you can make crate training a great experience for both you and your pup. 

         © Gabriel Riesco, Pawmos Dog Training LLC |   All Rights Reserved July 2023

         

         

        Crate vs. Pen: The Pros and Cons of Puppy Confinement Options 

        Crate vs. Pen: The Pros and Cons of Puppy Confinement Options 

          Welcoming a new puppy comes with some challenges, such as ensuring a safe and secure place when you’re not around especially when it comes to managing their behavior and potty training. One common question new puppy owners often face is whether to use a crate or a pen for confinement. Both options have their pros and cons, and it’s essential to understand them to make an informed decision that suits your puppy’s needs and your lifestyle. You  can use both, but it’s good to know the differences.

        Crate Confinement:

        A crate is a small, enclosed space that serves as a den for your puppy. It can be made of plastic, metal, or fabric, and typically has a door that can be closed. Here are some pros and cons of using a crate for puppy confinement:

        Pros:

            1. Creates a Safe Space: A crate provides a secure and cozy space for your puppy to rest and feel safe. It mimics the den-like environment that puppies naturally seek in the wild, and it can help them feel secure and calm.

            2. Aids in Potty Training: Dogs naturally avoid soiling their sleeping area, and a crate can be a valuable tool for potty training. When properly used, it can help teach your puppy to hold their bladder and bowel movements, and establish a routine for outdoor elimination.

            3. Prevents Destructive Behavior: Puppies are notorious for getting into trouble when left unsupervised. Using a crate can prevent them from chewing on furniture, shoes, or other household items, and keep them safe from potential hazards.

            4. Facilitates Travel: Crates are also useful for traveling with your puppy. They provide a secure and familiar space for your puppy in unfamiliar surroundings, and can be used in cars or on airplanes.

        Cons:

            1. Limitation on Movement: One of the main drawbacks of using a crate is that it restricts your puppy’s movement. Puppies need regular exercise and playtime to develop their muscles, coordination, and social skills. Spending excessive time in a crate can lead to boredom and restlessness.

            2. Potential for Anxiety: Some puppies may develop crate anxiety if they are confined for too long periods or have had negative experiences with crates in the past. This can result in whining, barking, or destructive behavior, and may require additional training and desensitization.

        Pen Confinement:

        A pen, also known as an exercise pen or playpen, is a larger enclosed area that allows your puppy more space to move around compared to a crate. It can be made of metal or plastic, and usually has an open top. Here are some pros and cons of using a pen for puppy confinement:

        Pros:

            1. More Space to Move: A pen provides your puppy with more room to move around, play, and explore compared to a crate. This can help fulfill their exercise and mental stimulation needs, and prevent boredom and restlessness.

            2. Flexibility: Pens are more versatile than crates, as they can be configured in different shapes and sizes to suit your space and your puppy’s needs. They can be used indoors or outdoors, and can also be used as a barrier to restrict access to certain areas of your home.

            3. Socialization Opportunities: A pen can be a safe space for your puppy to interact with family members, other pets, or visitors, which can aid in their socialization and help them develop good behavior and manners.

            4. Reduced Risk of Anxiety: Some puppies may feel less confined and anxious in a pen compared to a crate, as they have more freedom to move around and see their surroundings. This can help prevent anxiety-related behaviors.

        Cons:

            1. Less Effective for Potty Training: Unlike a crate, a pen may not be as effective for potty training, as it provides more space available for them to eliminate.

            2. Escapes: Some puppies may be able to climb or jump over the playpen, leading to unsupervised roaming or potential accidents.

            3. Limited Containment: Playpens may not be as effective as crates in preventing destructive chewing or accessing certain areas in your home.

            4. Reduced Security: Puppies with high anxiety or fear may not feel as secure in a playpen, as it does not offer the same level of confinement and den-like atmosphere as a crate.

        Ultimately, the choice between crate and playpen confinement depends on your puppy’s needs, temperament, and your specific circumstances. It’s important to strike a balance between confinement and freedom, providing your puppy with proper socialization, exercise, and mental stimulation throughout the day.

        © Gabriel Riesco, Pawmos Dog Training LLC |   All Rights Reserved July 2023