Teaching Your Dog To Think

The Thinking Dog

Did you ever look in your dog’s eyes and wonder what they are thinking?  Often I see my dogs lying outside in the grass and I really wonder what is going through their minds.  Is it some outside stimulation, is it dinner, is it the neighbors dogs, I wish I knew.  It would be so cool!  I guess it is just like when our kids are little and we wonder what they think.  I found out something cool this week when doing my weekly research, puppies learn just like infants.  It is just like I wrote on my Facebook page, how smart they are.  They are the only species derived from the wild, the wolves that now live in a house, have someone else buy their food and clean up their poop!  Tell me what other wild animal has done that?

The control they have over us is amazing!  I tried another technique I read about in studies this week and that is the “freeze”.  The freeze is something that dogs will do to let the other dog know to back off, I mean business.  Often the receiver of the “freeze” will either look away, raise their paw, yawn, or whatever calming signal it may take to let the “freeze” dog know they don’t want any part of it.  Well with having a fourteen-week-old puppy with amazingly strong jaws, the puppy biting is driving me nuts.  So I tried it with Bernard.  I immediately stopped any motion whatsoever and just stood there as he tried to tug on my pants.  Thank god he did not have any skin in that or I don’t think I could have made it!  I did not look at him, nothing, I just stood there not moving.  It took all of 30 seconds and he walked away!  I was shocked!  I guess I shouldn’t be, as I know if you communicate to them in a way that they understand, you get results.  I was surprised that at such a young age he had the mentality to read my actions like another dogs.

Shaping is a technique that we as trainers often use to teach the dogs to think.  By using a clicker or a marker word we mark the behavior in which we want the dog to continue doing.  Many times we have to wait for the dog to offer the behavior in order to let the dog know that is what we want.  We start marking in small increments or successions.  We then require the dog to do more before we mark and reward them.  This forces the dog to think.  It really is amazing to see their eyes when they try to process what it is they should do next.  Many dogs will go through everything they know how to do just to get the reward.  You really do have to watch that you don’t frustrate the dog and force them to give up.  If they stop thinking then you must go backwards.  Often the reason they do is that we pushed them to fast.  Remember they don’t think in a logical format, they think in the moment.

If you need help with training your dog call Kim Paciotti at 704-877-7821 or email her at kim@trainingcanines.com Visit the website at www.trainingcanines.com and the new premier dog club of the Carolina’s www.caninetrainingassociation.com

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