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Monthly Archives

January 2019

dog jumping

How to use treats to train your dog

By | Alpha Feeds, Training | No Comments

Food is one of the most powerful motivators for dogs which is why it is such an effective tool when used in obedience training – it can be one of the best ways to reinforce positive behaviour and makes learning much more enjoyable for them.

Some trainers argue that treats are only suited for non-professional trainers, but there are numerous training books that support the method, particularly when your dog is first learning.

Treats can help build positive reinforcement when introducing tools such as a whistle and when your dog is young enough to be distracted more easily, but remember that treat training doesn’t have to be long term – it can simply help your dog get to grips with what you’re asking to do.

So, here are some rules and tips which could help you out when training your working dog with treats:

  1. Treats should be small and quick to eat
    The edible rewards you use should depend on your dog and how much reward you want to give it, however we recommend choosing treats that can be broken up, free from artificial additives and tasty such as our training treats – they are also wheat gluten free.
  2. Reward during a calm state
    If food excites your dog then remember to wait for it to calm down before rewarding with a treat. We want to reinforce calm behaviour rather than excitable.
  3. Reinforce rather than bribe
    Use treats between verbal praise and affection. The goal is to not have to bribe your dog with proof of a treat every time, but to reinforce the good behaviour after reacting well to instruction.
  4. Reward each step, not just the finale
    Rewarding progress is a great way of saying to your dog “yes, that was good!”, even if the entire command wasn’t met. They will eventually work out which reactions are good and get ever closer to the goal.
  5. Introduce a whistle or clicker
    If you’re worried about overdoing the treats or becoming a distraction for other dogs with treats in your pockets, then you can introduce a whistle or clicker alongside a treat. Then slowly fade out the treats until the dog understands what that clicker or whistle noise means.
springer spaniel

How to improve your dog’s recall

By | Training | No Comments

Stopping an errant dog and getting it to come back is one of the biggest challenges of gundog training. Losing control of your dog can not only be embarrassing but it can cause harm to any game animals it’s chasing, and can even put your dog’s life in danger.

It doesn’t take a dog long to learn that they can outrun you, and their basic hunting instincts are incredibly strong, so it can be extremely useful to have the following recall tricks up your sleeve:

Start early

It’s a fact that dogs learn more in their first sixteen weeks than the rest of their life. It is at this time that they are at their most receptive, soaking up information and experiences like sponges so it is important during this stage that they learn their own name. Learning tends to be permanent when taught at this age, but if that time has passed don’t worry, not all is lost!

Use a lead to start basic training

When you first start lead training, it is important to start in an enclosed space as this will give your dog enough freedom to learn and yet keeps you firmly in control. As the dog gains understanding of what you’re asking, you can allow it more and more freedom. Cues and rewards help with this training, and details of each are listed below.

Use loud hearing cues such as a whistle

There are some obvious benefits to using a dog whistle for dog recall. For one, whistle sounds travel much further than that of the human voice, especially on windy days and they don’t show emotion or panic, unlike the human voice. It also provides consistency when helping your dog to learn.

Reward good behaviour

The best way to your dog’s heart is through its stomach, and giving them high-value treats shows them that they’ve done a good job. However, all dogs are different and whilst most dogs would take a food based treat as a reward, others may prefer to be rewarded in another way e.g. by playing with a ball.

Never punish bad behaviour

It can be very frustrating to lose control of your dog, but any punishment upon their (eventual) return could be very confusing. The last thing you want to do is give you dog fewer reasons to return, so always reward a dog when it recalls successfully. Keep enforcing that positive behaviour.