Dog Training & Wellness Services

DogRelations™ NYC dog training is really about positive reinforcement training in an enjoyable and life enriching way. This means giving your dog a clear understanding of behaviors you want to encourage while having fun and developing a close relationship. Dogs thrive on honest, direct and consistent communication, just like friends who completely trust and rely on one another.

Tuesday, 31 January 2017

Protected: Exercising Rover When Its’ Cold Outside

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Monday, 30 January 2017

consequences for nuisance behaviors

One of the first things I taught my puppy Zeldi is to settle on the floor during food preparations, human and canine.

She knows that very well. as soon as I pull out the bowls and fill them with their food she knows to settle. She also knows to settle while the humans are having their food.

As a reward both dogs get either table scraps or their favorite yogurt cheese after the humans eat…and yes, sometimes while we eat. As long as there is no jumping and begging. I admit to enjoy feeding my dogs treats.

Sometimes we just have a yogurt cheese party, as I call it. I am at the counter and the dogs get tiny pieces of yogurt cheese.

Zeldi who is going into an adolescent phase and is “testing” boundaries started to bark and moan to get treats. Of course my partner reacts by saying stuff like; this is unacceptable, stop, AHEM..etc etc. I say: please, don’t give her attention for that. So he stopped ( which I appreciate a lot).

But that was not clear enough of a sign for Zeldinchen.

So, just as I taught her to settle, by slowing down or stopping food preparation when Zeldi broke her “settle” I decided to present her with a consequence that really would bring the message home to her that the vocal complaining, demanding to be given morsels of food would not work in her favor.

This is what I did: I gave Petzi a treat when she yowled. I will say that it felt a tad cruel.

However after one repetition she figured it out!

She stopped!

So again: don’t take the “ignore” the behavior literally if the behavior you are trying to extinguish is self reinforcing.  Yes, it might be seen as “negative” punishment (removing something desirable) but the dog can earn what they want very quickly by offering a highly rewarded replacement behavior.

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Thursday, 26 January 2017

“Greed” in the context of dog training

When talking about greed in the context of teaching dogs I think of three things:


1) The lack of generosity in rewarding behaviors you want to promote

2) Asking for too much too soon.

3) Taking offered behaviors for granted


Let me explain what I mean.


It seems to be part of human nature to blame dogs for their “mistakes” or “mis-behaviors”. Humans also tend to feel that there is a certain preconceived limit on how often they will or will not reward behaviors. Some kind of judgment like: “She should know this by now”.


Well frankly, you cannot predict a dog’s leaning curve nor can you really know in advance how often a behavior needs to be rewarded for that behavior to truly become the first offered behavior replacing the nuisance behavior or even just establishing the behavior as an automatic polite behavior or a taught trick behavior.

What one should be thinking if the dog reverts to an old behavior or does not understand what is expected of him next is: “Oh, I need to reward the desired behavior more, I have not made it clear to the dog.”

In other words: the dog does not really fully understand what he should be doing, the reward delivery was not clearly marking the part of the behavior that needs reinforcing. And who’s “fault” is that?


A good example for “asking too much too soon” is when you make an exercise much harder right away or you ask for a different version of the behavior (in a different context, in a more distracting environment, with less of a cue or even too many repetitions without rewarding). All of a sudden the teacher will be disappointed when the dog gets confused or gets stressed out.


Sometimes a dog will offer a wonderful behavior on their own. As teacher you are thrilled that you can add that to the repertoire of behaviors your dog will offer. So you think: “Oh, we have that down! I don’t need to practice and reward that!” Wrong. If you don’t reward on a good schedule the behavior will begin to weaken whereas other behaviors that had to be taught carefully and rewarded on a regular basis will be offered with more enthusiasm.

Those actions can be described as “greedy” from the human point of view in the context of teaching a dog.

What should we keep in mind?

It is best to train “in the moment” without putting pressure on the dog or oneself in terms of a time limit or a lofty goal.

Don’t ask for a better, faster or bigger response before the previous step is not totally secure and cemented. That is true for the teacher and the dog.

If you see that a behavior is difficult for a dog physically, stop and teach something different or a different version of that behavior.

Be flexible!

Reinvent the exercise.

Take a break and give the dog a break.

Good teachers tend to blame themselves since it is their job to be able to estimate correctly what the learner needs to be successful.

So next time you are angry because your dog failed to understand something, take a deep breath and ask yourself if you have been acting in a “greedy” fashion.




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