When we think of advanced dog training, we are apt to consider guard dogs or therapy dogs or any other canine specialty training. Any time you teach your own family dog more than the basic sit, stay, come, heel — you are using advanced methods.
Your dog doesn’t have to do everything flawlessly, but the time you spend teaching him tricks and particular behaviors is something he will continue to enjoy, and that will just add to the close bond between you. If you make it fun, training time is a favorite activity for your pet. He loves one-on-one attention and praise when he does something right.
Teach your dog to shake hands. Have the dog in a sit position facing you and gently tap on the top of one of his front feet. After a few times, he will raise the foot because the taps are strange for him. As soon as that happens, you gently take the paw in your hand, shake up and down a couple times saying “shake” and then praise your dog as if he’s the best animal in the universe.
It will take a few days for him to get the connection. Once he understands what you mean when you say “shake”, remember to reinforce the training by asking him to shake here and there during the day. As he becomes more used to doing it, start extending your hand just before you say “shake”. Before long, you won’t have to say anything — just extend your hand.
If you want to take it farther, once he masters shaking with one paw do the same training with the other paw using the command “other hand”. It’s a bit more challenging but not hard to do.
It is not true that old dogs don’t learn new tricks. Keep your training sessions short, and fun and any dog who has mastered basic obedience will respond well to advanced dog training methods.
A Quick Introduction to Service Dog Training
Service dog training is one of those highly specialized areas of dog training which really requires an expert. If you have a lot of experience training dogs or have specific experience in service dog training, then you may be able to do it yourself but if you haven’t then an expert is needed. Every kind of training has its own difficult areas, things to look out for, and special techniques; when a dog is going to be doing a job such as assisting a disabled person in some way then they need the best foundation possible, and that is something an expert will provide.
There are many kinds of a task which a service dog, assistance dog, or guide dog, as they are sometimes called, might be required to do. In each case, they are trained to assist a disabled person and take over the tasks which that person is less able, or unable, to perform. In all cases, a balanced, fit, patient and intelligent animal is required; which rules out some breeds.
Guide dogs assist blind or partially sighted people; hearing dogs, or signal dogs, assist deaf or those people who are hard of hearing. Broadly, service dogs are those which help people who are immobile or have mobility disabilities; they are also used as seizure first response and other issues which require an immediate alert and the person is otherwise living alone.
The range of tasks here means a variety of requirements. A service dog might merely be the first sign of danger for someone with low blood sugar, or they may be a highly trained guide dog guiding a blind person on a busy, dangerous street.
There are different ways of accessing the sort of expertise necessary to have a trained service dog. Firstly, you could get a dog which is already trained in the tasks you need; although that may be difficult and it can be expensive. Another way is to get an able dog and take him along to a class where you will be guided by an expert, and the training cost will be shared by all class members. You may be able to train your dog yourself with guidance from a specialist; it is indeed worth looking into the different possibilities and services on offer and finding one that suits you and is affordable for you.
Take the First Steps in Search Dog Training
The working dog breeds such as Border Collies, Labradors, Golden Labradors, and German Shepherds are the most usual dogs chosen for search dog training. Their inbred characteristics and abilities make them perfect for searching. This can mean mountain or countryside tracking search and rescue, or police detection sniffer dogs.
Search dogs are trained to pick up a trail — some scent on the ground or on surfaces; they will later be trained to follow an odor in the air. Because dogs have naturally very sensitive noses, it is necessary to teach them first in picking up a ground scent since this is less natural to them. Once they have learned proper tracking and trailing, they can then be taught to pick up and follow scents in the air, but if they start by doing this, then it is far more challenging to make them adjust to following a ground scent.
As in all dog training procedure, the basis of the training is to praise and reward for correct behavior. Teaching a dog to search, it’s necessary to bring his attention to the ground by laying a trail of treats over a short distance ending in a lightly hidden person. Before setting your dog the task, give the dog a smell of a scent pad’ which is an article of clothing or another object which will smell of the person to be found. Then allow your dog to follow the trail of rewards to find the hidden person and be amply rewarded. What this does is bring your dog’s attention to the main elements of search: a hidden person (or object), a trail, and a scent pad to start him off.
As this routine is repeated, your dog will get used to the pattern and understand what is required of him. As he becomes more adept, it’s time to slowly lengthen the distance over which he must follow a trail, add obstacles, and occasionally leave out treats until he is just following the scent of the hidden object or person. At a more advanced stage then ëbroken’ trails will be introduced and other difficulties which the dog will have to learn to deal with as well as teaching the dog to bark on discovery.
For some people, this might prove an interesting and entertaining exercise to engage with their pet, and both dog and the owner would enjoy the process; but our mountain rescue and wilderness tracking teams base their most advanced techniques for search dog training upon these simple building blocks.
Basic Guard Dog Training
Many people buy a dog to have as a pet, or as an additional member of their family, but very often they also want the added security a dog gives to their home and will look into guard dog training. Depending on what level of protection you want, almost any breed of dog will provide a deterrent and will be able to raise the alarm when necessary; but if you need a well-trained animal which will give you extra security, then certain breeds tend to be preferred for this sort of role. Three of the most popular races for guarding are the German Shepherd dog, the Rottweiler, and the Doberman.
The most basic form of training for a security dog is to bark at unusual or suspicious incidents and to alert the owner. If you have already house trained your dog or trained your dog to sit, then you should not find this too difficult. The main idea with dog training, in general, is to observe your dog and ensure he is rewarded for behaviour which you wish to develop. To encourage your animal to alert you with barking, then you must call him to you when he barks at the right stimulus and reward him instantly. This way he will associate his action with a reward and is likely to repeat it.
The next thing to do is to train him to be quiet; since in his enthusiasm for being rewarded for barking, it is likely he might think it’s ok to continue. Again, it is a matter or rewarding him for his silence, and associating that with a command. In both barking and stop barking training a clicker can be useful since it assists in targeting the precise activity you desire and bringing it instantly to the dog’s attention. Additionally, some trainers recommend a distraction device of some kind, like a tin of small coins which you shake to distract the animal from barking and then reward him for his silence.
More advanced guarding techniques are best left to the more experienced trainers. Bite training and attacking or defending are all activities which require an advanced knowledge and experience in both dogs and the practice of those techniques. It is often the case that a ‘character’ test is taken, such as the ‘Schutzhund’ test which was initially developed in Germany to check if the dog is suitable for performing such behavior. Guard dog training, above and beyond barking and alerts, is not to be taken up lightly by the inexperienced.