Example of a good training session

Here is an example of what I think a good training session looks like.

Characteristics of a typical training session

  1. Make learning fun, more like a game and less like a chore. High energy play with a high value reinforcer

  2. Set up the game (exercise), so your dog can try to earn the reinforcer. Go ahead and help them with luring or asking very simple questions, and work up to more refined rules to the game as they are successful and build confidence.

  3. Mark good choices and reinforce lavishly

  4. When a dog is learning a new behavior, reward honest effort, but differentially reward behaviors that are closer to what you really want. Manage the learning environment so they are likely to try things that are going to be successful.

  5. Use the timing and placement of the reward to reinforce the behavior you want (everything that happens between the mark/click and delivery of the reward becomes part of the behavior as far as the dog is concerned)

  6. Hold off on naming a behavior until you are very certain you are going to get what you want so you associate that word with a behavior that your dog already wants to do. Take advantage of environmental cues to help your dog decide what to try - you don’t need to label behaviors in order to get your dog to offer them.