When we think dog-training, we think being proactive, dishing out cues, making sure to get our timing of rewards just right but there is an easier, quieter, less busy way to achieve great dog-training results.
Your dog is being trained all the time…
Whether you are directly involved or not, your dog is learning about which behaviours get them things they like and which behaviours expose them to things they don’t like.
You may not have a say in what’s being learned!
Your dog is training you…
You are a pretty influential part of your dog’s environment and even when you think that you are proactively training, your dog is learning how to get you to allow him access things he likes, or learning to stop you exposing him to things he doesn’t like.
This is really the key to developing that all important relationship with a dog, to boosting their confidence and being a good guide for them.
To be a good dog trainer you need to be easy to train – making it really easy for your dog to be a good human trainer.
Help ’em out by managing their environment so it’s easiest for them to choose the most desired behaviours and make rewards readily available for behaviours you like.
Catch your dog doing the right thing…
- decide what behaviours you like – what would you prefer your dog to do?
- choose behaviours that make it difficult for your dog to do unwanted ones e.g. if your dog is sitting he can’t jump up
- watch your dog closely – look for behaviours that your dog offers regularly in every day life
- make it really easy – remove temptations that may cause your dog to carry out unwanted behaviour
- give your dog tons of space – distance is your friend
- use a HIGH rate of reinforcement – that means you keep the rewards flowing
- reward where you want your dog to be
- use rewards that can compete with other rewards in the environment
- where possible use functional rewards – what was your dog trying to achieve with the unwanted behaviour?
Now only allow him access when he offers more appropriate behaviour instead.
Why passive training?
- get the behaviours that you like without too much effort – this is lazy dog training
- sometimes you will even get other behaviours, like Milo here who offers a reverse behaviour:
- reduce the need to tell your dog off
- teach behaviours more efficiently by catching your dog doing the right thing
- teach your dog to relax; he’s not waiting for cues and guidance all the time
- greatly reduce attention seeking and obnoxious behaviours without too much stress or frustration
- teach your dog how to be a good human-trainer, making other training more efficient
- get behaviours that you like – rewarded behaviour is more likely to be repeated and can take the place of less desirable behaviour
- you don’t need to try to control your dog, you already control the things he likes
- it is the absolute best approach to improving your dog’s self-control, patience and politeness
- anyone can do this, even kids (with appropriate adult supervision)
Sit back, have your dog’s meal in a bowl on your lap. Wait for him to carry out behaviour you like – YES! and reward.