Enrichment by definition is: “The dynamic process for enhancing animal environments within the context of the animals’ behavioral biology and natural history.”
Enrichment is way of providing animals with mental nourishment and stimulation. In my practice, I develop environmental enrichment devises or EEDs. These EEDs are made creatively and specifically for individual clients. EED’s can be anything from store-bought toys, or toys you make with your own imagination.
EEDs are important because they provide your dog with much-needed exercise and enrichment. Animals should have a time in their day where enrichment is involved so they are stimulated and not just an entity in your home.
EEDs are easy to make and you know what your dog likes so why not create a toy for your dog? This can be a great activity for the family to work on and it provides your dog with a personalized toy. Remember be responsible and use pet friendly objects and nothing that can be a choke hazard.
Be interactive with your dog and never stop being creative!!
Its amazing how experienced trainers learn new training tricks through their training sessions.
If you have a small dog (5lbs or under) this can work for you.
Training sit can be a great fun but if you have a small dog that seems to jump instead of sit, it can become frustrating.
If you are having a similar problem I have your solution . When asking your dog to sit try using a low coffee table. When you ask for sit (using tips from my sit blog ) ask for it under the table. When your dog wants to jump he is limited in space and will actually be forced to sit. Continue asking your dog to sit until they are consistent . Then start asking for sit out from under the table . If they jump again ask one more time if still jumping then move back under the table.
This little technique is a great way for people with little training to experience real results.
In some cases people use a wall where you ask for sit and the dog sits because there is no more room to go and they naturally sit.
The table is a similar trick.
When your dog barks at the door or runs around your house when the door bell rings you need to get your dogs focus off those distractions!
How to fix it:
Grab a place mat. Place it 15 feet from your door and ask your dog to sit on it. This is now your dogs go to spot.
Ask your dog to his spot and say stay. Walk to your door and return if your dog stayed on their spot, reinforce them. Do this again to make sure your dogs “stay” command is strong. ( door then back to dog). Now again go to door but touch the handle and wiggle it. If your dog stays, reinforce. Remember your dogs attention span maybe short if your dog gets up and walks away. Don’t chase after them ( ignore the undesired behaviors always) , wait till they return .
Now we will start opening the door open and shut. Make sure the door way is clear so the dog sees no one at the door. If your dog is still sitting reinforce them.
Now the tough spot. Have someone ring the doorbell but not stand in the doorway. The dog will bark most likely ( or even break the stay), just wait till your dog stops the undesired behavior and comes back to control in their place. Reinforce the calm sit position and try again . Do this until your dog is staying on their spot . Reinforce them if they are staying on the mat.
Once you get here now add the person to the door . The person should only move if you tell them to. If your dog is off their spot heading towards the door ask the person to step back outside . Do this again and again reinforcing good behavior .
You get see results with this positive reinforcement technique in a day . But remember when doing training sessions with your dog you need to let them know when they leave the train . Use a word like “ok” or “done” to let your dog know he can either 1) greet the guest or 2) walk around the house.
I also use hand gestures as well so try to say “done” or “ok” and do a quick clap . Now your dogs knows to break the stay position and carry on with their day.
Jumping and barking can be a frustrating behavior but with this technique your dog will know that door bell ringing means sit on mat not jump on guests .
Dogs that have a fear of people can be a tough to handle. You want your dog to be playful but for whatever the reason ( ie your dogs are rescues) they are scared. Here are some tips to help with getting your dog to be more approachable.
Sit on you sofa bring some treats with you and have them readily available. Don’t move over to your dog, let them slowly come to you. Don’t even coax your dog over, everything with people fears need to be on you dogs own terms. Once your dogs gets with in hands distance show the treat in on open hand on the floor. Slowly your dog will come to and take. Then do it again. Remain very calm and anytime your dog comes up to you, reinforce. Our goal is to make you ( the person) the most reinforcing thing to your dog. Don’t every yell or punish a fearful dog. Also being on your dogs level is a great way to share the playing field. Try sitting on your floor with treats and if your dog comes over calmly( bring extra treats) and while they try to eat the treats very calming pet them.
This should also happen with your friends. Tell your friends to just relax and wait for the dog to come to them. Remember also that outside noises and people will also affect your dog. So go out on days that are not busy and reinforce your dog for remaining calm when you both see someone.
Don’t reinforce your dog if they are exhibiting fear and remember be patient with you dog. If things are on their terms you dog will ease into their new home and meeting new people.
A lot of people want to know what the difference is between positive reinforcement training (PRT) and using dominance training (DT).
It is important when choosing a trainer to know what to expect. A positive reinforcement trainer uses positive stimuli ( treats, toys, affection) to elicit a positive result.
The positives: This is a great way to get results. The dog learns behaviors at their own pace without breaking their spirit. The dog really thinks about the behaviors and emits behaviors because they want to, because the feeling of doing a behavior you ask is more positive or rewarding then disobeying or refusing . Dogs love attention and giving dogs attention for desired behaviors and ignoring behaviors that are undesired is the main principle in positive reinforcement training.
Negatives: people call PRT “cookie cutter” or “treat obsessed”. PRT does take longer for desired results than DT.
Dominance training: DT uses force or negative stimuli to get results. To avoid punishment the dog through trail and error emits the desired behavior.
Positives: quicker results. Dogs most likely do not exhibit the undesired behavior do to avoiding punishment .
Negatives: using force and scare tactics can break the dogs spirit.
Owners differ and the way they prefer to train, in turn, are different. Here is an example of a trained behavior and how each training technique gets results.
ie: dog jumping up.
PRT- if the dog is jumping up the trainer will either ignore the behavior by turning your back the second the dog stops jumping reinforce that behavior. Over time the undesired behavior subsides and the problem is solved . Or the trainer redirects and if the dog has had basic obedience training, simply ask the dog as he is running up to sit before he jumps and reinforce that behavior. Eventually the dog will sit when you return do to all the reinforcement they received for sitting.
DT- if the dog is jumping the trainer might knee the dog in the chest when he jumps up. To avoid being kneed the dog stops jumping.
Both techniques work but it depends on how you, as the owner, prefer to train the dog.
A lot needs to come into play when finding a trainer. A good trainer will observe your dog, ask about their past, observe their environment and understand why the dog might be emitting undesired behaviors. A poor trainer can misuse either of these techniques resulting in no or worst results.
So bottom line is : check credentials, ask the trainer what training method they prefer and why.