Dog Training Tip

Dog Training Tip - Communication teaching the dog what behaviors are wanted, when that behavior is wanted and under what circumstances.

The next part involves letting the dog know what behaviors are unwanted.

This is the first step in ending the Outta Control Puppy problem many new dog owners find themselves in.

If yours is no longer a puppy but rather a full grown mature one, and you're still having difficulty gaining control it might be time to step back and take another look at your communication skills.

A Two-Way Street

Learning what motivates the dog to get the desired behavior, definately helps speed that process along.

Recognize and understand the communication that the dog sends.

Do you have a timid shy dog or a loud boisterous one.

The dog can signal that he is unsure, confused, nervous, happy, excited, and so on.

Dog Training Tip - A dog that is stressed or distracted will be unable to focus and will not learn quickly or easily. Read about Fearful Dogs

Before any training can start; we must be trained to recognize their particular form of communication, more about Dog Body Language

4 Important Messages

Dog communication involves four important messages we can send:

  • Reward or Release
  • Correct behavior. You have earned a reward. The Marker, "Yes" or "Okay" followed by a reward, a treat or simply a lot of praise.

  • Keep Going Signal
  • Correct behavior. Continue and you will earn a reward. Marker, "Good" or "Come on".

  • No Reward
  • Incorrect behavior. Get them to try something else. Marker, "Uh-oh" or "Try again".

  • Punishment
  • Incorrect behavior. You have earned punishment. Marker, "No" or more specific commands like "off," "out," or "leave it."

Don't Confuse Your Dog

Keeping the signals or words consistent allows the dog to understand them quickly.

If you sometimes say "good" as a reward marker and sometimes as a keep going signal, it is difficult for the dog to know when he has earned a reward.

This took a little practice on my part, it doesn't matter which marker you start with, Good or Okay as long as each remains consistant. With my chi as soon as they hear the word Okay they're waiting for their treat, if all they hear is Good they keep going listening for that magic word.

Read more about Chihuahua Training

Dog Training Tip- understand the dog's reward is not the same as the reward marker.

The reward marker tells the dog that he’s done it right and is going to get the reward, a very important step in dog communication.

Failure to reward after the reward marker diminishes the value of the reward marker and makes training more difficult.

Messages do not have to be communicated only with words, but can also be with nonverbal signals. Hand signals and body language play an important part in dog communication.

Dogs pick up on body language quickly and makes the learning process go smoothly.

Many new dog owners make the mistake of using lots of verbal praise as both a reward marker and a reward, which can be confusing to both dog and owner.

Mechanical clickers are frequently used for the reward marker. Rewards can be praise, treats, play.


The meanings of the four signals are taught through repetition, so that your dog forms an association.

Dog Training Tip, if the owner/handler consistently gives the dog a reward marker immediately before he gives the dog a food treat, the dog soon will learn to associate the reward marker with receiving something pleasant.

If the dog is always given a punishment marker before he is scolded or put outside for bad behavior, he will soon learn to associate the punishment marker with the punishment itself.

Dogs Don't Generalize

A very important and often overlooked dog training tip is understanding that dogs do not generalize commands easily.

A dog who has learned a command or a behavior in a particular place or situation may not immediately recognize the command in other situations.

A dog who knows how to "down" in the living room may become confused if asked to "down" at the park or in the car.

The command may need to be retaught in each new situation.

The dog has to apply what's been taught in a certain location or situation to anywhere or anytime the owner needs to direct the dog into that behavior.

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