How a dog learns

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By Laura Pakis, Certified Professional Dog Trainer and Blogger,

Most dogs enjoy obedience training.  It gives them one on one attention with their owners.  It clears up any confusion as to what is right and what will get them in trouble.  Obedience will even improve the bond between owner and dog.

Unfortunately the problem with most amateur dog trainers is that they feel their dog is trained once he understands a command and has gone through the “Learning Phase.”

The Learning phase is when the dog learns to understand what a command means.  You use very little correction at this phase, and may use toys, balls or food to motivate (not bribe!) the dog into doing and understanding what the command means.

There are actually three “phases” of learning for a dog; the learning phase is the first stage, then a reinforcement phase where the dog is “re- taught” the command in a variety of different settings and the final stage, the proofing phase.

The Reinforcement phase happens very quickly, it usually only takes one or two repetitions in different environments for it to “click” for the dog.  During this phase the aim is to teach the dog that training is a big, fun game.  A game that he has to respect but, nonetheless, a game the he loves and looks forward to playing with you—in any environment.

The final phase is “The Proofing Phase.”  This phase teaches the dog that 100% reliability in every type of environment is absolutely imperative.  This is done by using distractions and chaos energy.

Chaotic energy is separate, different, not yet organized, nor integrated energy.   It is unlike different levels of distraction. Chaos is brought on by other living creatures in a disorganized energetic state.  Fire engines are a distraction. A leaping, bounding Labrador pup is chaotic energy.

How well each dog handles the challenge of each is different, but it all starts at the basics and builds from there.  With a good basic foundation, any dog can achieve this level of reliability and in a relatively short amount of time.

So if you’re a frustrated dog owner or have an ill-mannered dog, think of what I just shared with you.  And if you get stuck with your training, don’t hesitate to call a professional dog trainer.  They’d be happy to share their canine knowledge with you and help you achieve the dog of your dreams.

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