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Basic Dog Training - Catching Your Dog's Behavior

Do you train your new dog? Or address your dog's behaviors?

What's the difference between dog behavior and dog training? Short version is one is something that happens naturally, such as a dog's natural behavior is to bark, or to perhaps chase a squirrel. Some dogs behaviors gear towards playing fetch, running head first into the nearest body of water they find, or perhaps guarding family members.

Dog training is behaviors that are caught so they can be recreated. Sometimes it's a serious of behaviors that we've linked together, like a compound sentence, for us to use as a convenience. Examples of this would be training a dog to wait to have their feet wiped when coming inside. Another example would be basic dog commands: sit, stay, come, etc. Those are all naturally occurring behaviors, or habits; we've just simply attached a name to them so we can utilize them at our convenience.

Catching Dog Behavior - Creating Basic Dog Commands

Dog tricks and dog training are merely the result of repeatedly catching a behavior and assigning it a name.

So while dog behavior never changes, and doesn't really need any encouragement, dog training requires cultivation and maintenance. Dog training (which includes tricks and commands) can become routine, but never truly habit.

It's habit for us to eat when we're hungry. It's training that sets mealtimes. It is habit that we need to urinate when we wake up, it's training that tells us it needs to be in the toilet.

Training can become routine, but no matter how ingrained, it is never habitual.

So even though for the vast majority of us, the concept of peeing anywhere but the toilet is revolting, it is indeed still a routine, not a habit. Habit: peeing. Routine: in the toilet.

Now that routine has been ingrained into us on every level, and supported by every member of society. The thought of doing it anywhere else is so socially unacceptable, that it would be difficult for us to just drop trousers and go, but it is still most definitely a routine.

And in very difficult situations, a routine that you may feel compelled to break with.

As with small children being potty trained, house breaking a puppy is all about catching the behavior and naming it.

So with the child, you are constantly asking about potty...

"Do you need to go potty? "

"Did you go pee on the potty?"

" I'm so proud of you, you peed on the potty."

or my favorite Mom moment

"I see you're going pee on the potty!!!! "

*as child makes direct eye contact with you*

As human's, we've assigned a name to the behavior (pee) and linked it with a routine/trick/training (in the potty).

The same concept applies to every routine we wish for our dog to adhere to.

Dog Behavior: Peeing

Dog Training: Outside

With the example above, it was very easy for me to catch the behavior of a child peeing because humans can utilize words. I linked the behavior to a specific training: on the potty.

Dog language is a bit different. Dogs obviously don't communicate with each other using words (they utilize body language for the most part). So not only am I training my dog to communicate via human words, I'm attempting to assign said human words to specific things I'm trying to train my dog to do.

That was a lot. Let's break it down into how your dog may see it.

Dog: *exists*

Human: sjaldf asjdfj eopapibj tjsd Fido sdfjislkdf sdf


Human: Jwejroj ejf Fido?

Dog: *starts to become trained that his name is Fido through repetition*

Now we can build on that.

Human: Fido, asdfk asjdbibit e rnfs Outside?

Fido: *has been taken outside enough to link the words Fido & Outside*

Fido (now outside): Starts to pee

Human: Fido, potty, potty, potty, potty.....

As Fido is giving the behavior of peeing, you are naming it with the word "potty". You've caught the behavior you want. Now I have the potential to recreate that behavior. I've assigned a name to the action.

In order to recreate a behavior, you have to catch the behavior and name it.

Pretty soon I can take Fido Outside and have hime go Potty on command (all words he's been trained to recognize).

Through even more repetition, I can train him that Fido Outside Potty gets positive reinforcement. I've created a routine, or as we refer to it, I've succeeded in housebreaking my dog.

Simple Dog Commands

How to make dog behaviors work for you

Let's start with something simple: the stay command. A dog can naturally stay in one place, so that makes it a behavior (they're not sharks who drown if they stop swimming*).

*Some exclusions apply

But how do I make a dog stay when I want them to?

You have to name that behavior as the dog is presenting it. The key part is you can't lose that behavior. You have to catch it.

So I have the dog in a sit (another trick/command).

Now think about what the stay command actually is. Is it Fido moving all around? Is it him coming to you? What is the precise behavior you want to catch. Fido not moving as you move away from him.

I stand up straight, with my stomach pointed directly at him (which is a gentle negative regarding following me), and ....lean back ever so slightly. A gentle shift in body weight if you will, as I calmly repeat the word I'm trying to use to catch the behavior: Stay.

I don't mix in other words. I simply repeat words he already knows and mix in his new word. Maybe his name: Fido. Perhaps he knows a positive word: Good.

Me: Fido, stay stay stay, good, stay, good, stay.

Fido: has not moved.

Me: *as I shift my weight back towards Fido*: GOOD STAY!

I caught the behavior. I didn't get far, and I didn't wait too long, risking losing the behavior. But I caught the behavior, and named it stay. Connections are being made. Maybe next time I try it, I take a single step back with my right foot, ever so slowly so as not to create more energy. I gradually increase the space between us a I constantly repeat the word so he understands the new trick.

Fido now has a routine, or trick, forming in his head: "When mom says "stay", if I don't move until she says so, I get a positive."

Congratulations, another behavior you've caught and trained as a routine or trick.

Maintaining Dog Routines and Training

Without maintenance, any routine or training will dissolve

Remember, behaviors occur naturally; training is something that needs to be maintained. The maintenance plan depends upon your dog's personality, though.

For instance, I have trained my dogs to walk politely on the leash. Leash walking is, at its heart, a trick, or a routine. Dogs don't walk dogs on leashes, so it's something that will require maintenance. For my Orion, maintenance was me telling him to heel at the beginning of a walk, and to sit while I took off his leash at the end.

My Ellis is a little bit fearful around energetic dogs, so I need to occasionally negate his behavior of having energy, or reactivity towards dogs, on a leash. Again, not bad, though. Just a simple, gentle answer to his natural behavior.

Arwen was a little more difficult. Initially, any stimuli brought her either into a panic or a frenzy. So there were a lot more answer to her questions about her behaviors, until I was able to establish a routine of calm while on a leash. Her age (1 year) means that there will be a lot more questions, but over time, they have drastically reduced and she's progressed with her training routines.

So, three different dogs learning the same training, with different sets of beginning behaviors.

That's where that Piloting Piggy Bank comes in.

Piloting Your Dog's Behavior

The Cost of Training Your Dog's Behaviors

Every time you work towards changing a dog's behavior, or training a new routine, you need to pay for it. Each time you give your dog an answer to their question, you get money out of their bank. For example:

Arwen: Can I jump on you?

Me: Negative.

I just took a little bit of money out of Arwen's behavior account with regard to jumping. I'm a bit closer towards turning not jumping into a trained routine or trained response. The closer I get to emptying that account, the easier it gets to answer each question. This is the whole Piloting basis, hence the Piloting Piggy Bank.

That's why it seems as if some dogs are so easy to train, but others aren't. The dog's aren't dumb, and there is no such thing as stubborn dog training. What is happening is your dog's behavior simply costs more money to turn into a trained routine, or a trick.

Your dog barks at the door. Behavior. Your dog stops barking with a gentle negative. Training. Your dog now goes to their specific spot. Training. They wag their tail. Behavior.

Understanding the difference between dog training and dog behavior is imperative when working with your dog's antics and having the a strong bond with your dog based on trust and communication.

For more information about how. to gently negate your dog's behavior, visit this link.

To learn how to correctly give your dog a positive, check out this link.

Find out how to work those pesky basic commands in this link.

And remember, Keep Calm and Pilot On.

Dog Training vs. Dog Life

By focusing on dog life, rather than dog training, our goals can become so much more attainable and clear-cut. Most of us don't want an obedient dog, we just don't want a dis-obedient dog. Robot-style dogs who are afraid of stepping out of line are for certain types of people I guess.

But that's not my style. That's why I developed the Piloting method of dog training over 20 years ago, a force-free method of dog training and puppy training that didn't rely on abusive shock collars or cruel prong collars, yet didn't constantly bribe with non-stop click-n-treat style dog training. I want a bond with my dog based on trust and communication.

Learn more about our Piloting method of dog and puppy training here.

Find out more about our private in home 30 Day Best Dog Ever and 30 Day Best Puppy Ever training packages here.

Have questions about our puppy training or dog training?

border collie dog

Kerry Stack

Darwin Dogs

Dog Training and Puppy Training

Greater Cleveland Area

Northeast Ohio

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