Dog Behavior Training
If you want to train your dog effectively, there are several styles of dog behavior training methods you can choose from. But the most successful methods work because they are based on the nature of dogs and how they learn. Positive dog behavior training methods communicate using your dog's senses and motivate him to respond instinctively.
All dogs evolved from wolves. By selectively breeding them for thousands of years, man has brought out the different behaviors and appearances that you see in today's modern breeds. But if left on their own, they would eventually lose touch with the behaviors man has engineered, and revert to wolf-like behaviors as they struggled to survive in the wild. The relevance of this fact for dog behavior training is that your dog has been endowed with senses that are designed to aid his survival. We must understand how our dog experiences the world to effectively use dog behavior training methods.
Dog Behavior Training and Your Dog's Senses
Most people believe that dogs don't see very well. By human standards, they would be correct. Compared to human eyesight, dogs have more limited binocular vision, they do not see colors well, and they see much less detail. However, dogs have an exceptional ability to see slight movements over a wide field of view. They are designed to notice other ground animals that might be easy to catch and kill. They will react immediately to movements at ground level. Your dog behavior training should include hand signals. Moving hand signals at waist level or lower will generate the most attention and interest in your dog.
Your dog's hearing abilities far exceed your own and can be used effectively in dog behavior training. Most humans can hear sounds in the frequency range of 20hz to 20,000hz. Your dog, however, can hear sounds ranging from 20hz to an astounding 35,000hz. This range of hearing helps your dog hear prey that may only emit ultrasonic sounds. In addition, dogs use their ear flaps to precisely locate the source of a sound. Some trainers believe that commands with a distinct hissing sound (like emphasizing the "s" in sit, stay, etc) will be more effective than other types of commands. Giving dog behavior training commands in a higher pitched voice may also be more effective. This contradicts our human experience that associates low pitch with authority.
Dogs naturally have a very highly developed sense of smell, a handy ability for us when it comes to dog behavior training. Although dogs can be trained to identify and track human odors and human-created odors, they are best at tracking other animals and locating food by smell. It's this natural predisposition to find food by smell that makes food treats so useful in dog behavior training.
Some trainers believe that the sense of touch is not highly utilized by most dogs. Very few dog behaviors are based on the sense of touch. Although petting may be used as a secondary incentive in dog behavior training, most dogs will abandon a petting session if food is offered elsewhere. For this reason, petting and other touch-related incentives will not play a major role in most dog behavior training.
Dogs have a sense of taste, but in the wild it comes into play only after the senses of sight, hearing and smell. Wolves only tasted something after they had seen it, heard it, smelled it and caught it. Therefore, taste alone is not something that provides incentive in dog behavior training, but dogs do have taste preferences. When choosing food rewards for dog behavior training, determine which seems to have the best taste for your dog.
Dog behavior training uses a variety of commands, incentives and rewards. If we modify those commands, incentives and rewards to match our dog's senses, then our dog behavior training will be more effective.
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