Training Your Dog
How to apply psychological principles to training your dog to sit, come, stay, lay down or roll-over? There are special mechanisms which work wonderfully.
There is no set formula to train or create the perfect dog. Instead, there are strategies and mechanisms that allow you to make your dog the dream dog. The most important thing is that the dog “cares” about what you tell it. If you say “no,” it should cringe, not out of fear but because you're not happy with it. “Good boy” should be reinforced primarily by praise, which will become a conditioned reinforcer.
The basic skills like come, sit, stay, down, and roll-over can all be taught starting when a dog is approximately six months old. Physical prompting is not often useful in teaching a dog a trick; shaping is the most effective strategy if you want your dog to sit down. Stand up next to your dog and slowly repeat the word sit. Because you are holding food, chances are the dog will dance around next to you. At one point, there is a high probability that your dog will accidentally sit down, even just for a second; at this time, praise your dog repetitively and give it food.
The same technique works for down: wait for your dog to do it, then give praise and food. Come is an even easier thing to master. Take a piece of hot dog and cut it into tiny pieces. Now wait until your dog is a few feet away from you and call its name; then dangle the food. When your dog comes, give food and praise. Repeat this many times, each time allowing your dog to move farther away from you. When it has this down, start calling your dog without showing it the food. After a week or two, only give the treat every few times your dog comes; this way, your dog will be coming for praise.
Roll-over is a trick that is taught after down. When your dog is lying down, take the food and hold it right on top of your dog's neck. This will get the dog to turn its head toward the food. As the dog does this, keep moving the food until your dog twists to get it. This is the first step of rolling over. Every time you prompt the dog to roll over, verbalize the command. Now start putting your hand on the neck without the food and saying the command; then simply say the command a few times until the dog rolls over.
Teaching a dog to stay is like teaching a child to do his/her homework on command. It often takes pretending to be angry. Have your dog sit in one spot. Take a step back and say “stay.” If the dog comes toward you, jump at your dog and say “no” and then pound the ground with your fist to scare the dog. Once again, put the dog in the same spot and say "stay." If your dog stays, call to it and give it food; if not, once again punish your dog. Continue to move farther and farther away until you're out of the dog's vision. Then call your dog. Slowly increase the amount of time your dog must wait before you call.
If you follow all these techniques properly, your dog will respect you and listen to you. Remember that you need to reinforce the dog at least four times as much as you punish it. Always praise the dog just before you give it the treat in order to make praise into a conditioned reinforcer. Good luck.