Positive First Dog Training: Week 1

Instructor: Mandy Miller


Activity #1: YES

You want to have a marker word, so that when the dog does the thing you have been wanting, you have a way to let them know right then that that was the right move. You wait for you dog to look at you, and then say the word “yes” and give him a treat. Repeat. Then try something simple that your dog already knows, like sit. As his bottom is hitting the ground, say yes and give him a treat.

Activity #2: The Name Game

To get your dog to pay attention to you when there is a lot of rewarding stimuli all around him, you start from the very beginning and go from there…responding to his name. When you have a treat ready, and your dog is not looking at you, say his name. The second he looks at you say “yes” and give him the treat. Wait until he is not paying attention to you again, and repeat. Keep treats around the house, where you can get to them without it being a big deal.

Activity #3: Sit and Stay

Go to a quiet place to practice this one. Practice it before feeding time. Have the dog sit, say stay and then give a treat. Say stay, count to one, then give another. Then say stay, count to two, and give another treat. Count to three and give another, etc. If they mess up

Activity #4: “Get Back”

You want your dog to understand that when you say get back, you want him to get out of your personal space. Dogs understand this, because they say it to each other- no hurt feelings. When you say it, you must mean it. When a dog says “get back” by growling, if the other dog does not get back, he will snap at and/or bite him. You are going to make the physical connection to the word “get back” by using a water bottle on the “stream” setting. Make sure it is just water in the bottle. Make sure you practice when you always have the water bottle at first.


Body Language Lesson 1: Dominant Ears

Dogs communicate primarily through body language. So, it will behoove you to understand your dog's language. It can be quite complicated, so we will start with the most important things first; how to tell if a dog is going to be a threat to your dog or not. In my experience, I have found that he number one reason for a dog fight to break out, is when both dogs are being dominant, and so they see the other dog as chance to conquer another being- what dominant dogs love to do. Afterall, the only way you can keep your position as head dog is to make sure that everyone you meet acknowledges you as head dog. So it only makes since that when you have two dogs with this same goal in mind, things can get ugly very quickly.

So how do you know if your dog, or the dog you are thinking about letting your dog meet, is doing to be dominant? You read his body language. When a dominant dog sees another dog, he immediately starts acting as tough as possible, in hopes to intimidate the other dog, and avoid a confrontation all together. He does this by looking as tall as possible: head held high, tail up, ears up (as much as he can) and forward.  His body is stiff and ready for a fight. His eyes will be large with quite a bit of the whites showing. Now this is a lot to try to remember, so I have found the easiest way to think about it is to look at the ears. Ears forward and raised as high as he can is a dog trying to be dominant.  



You want to keep your sessions short, only a few minutes. Every dog is different in how long he or she will want to keep training. If you practice each of these every day in repetitions of three, then you should see quite a difference in the week you have to practice them! You always want to end on a positive note. If you accidentally make the training lesson too long, and you can tell your dog is not begging for more, just ask him/her to do something VERY easy, and then reward like crazy! And just end it on that. You will know next time to to keep your session a little shorter- always leave them begging for more!