Book Cover
Training the Best Dog Ever

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TL;DR: Five-week dog fundamentals training program.

Niko’s Training Sheet


  • Reinforcement is a stimulus that increases the immediately preceding behavior so that it’s more likely to occur in the future. This is the training thesis.
    • Corollary (negative): Punishment is a stimulus that reduces the immediately preceding behavior so that it’s less likely to occur in the future.
    • Reward is a stimulus that uses positive reinforcement to increase your dog’s immediately preceding behavior by trying to tell him “YES! DO THAT AGAIN!” in the future.

2: Preparing for Dog Training

  • Leash tethering: clip carabiner onto belt and go everywhere with dog.
  • Training logs here
    • Start filling out Niko’s once ready to begin training.

3: Feeding, Potty Training, and Crating

  • Crate should be a safe, happy place for your dog!
  • Teach your dog that he gets something really great in the crate when you leave (not when you return)
  • Return to crate exercise if dog backslides during training. Home base.

4: Week One: Fundamentals Training Program

  • 10 skills:
    • Sit
    • Recall
    • Leash walking
    • Down
    • Stay
    • Stand
    • Settle
    • Release
    • Off/take it
    • Boundary training
  • Spiriting: unlocking dog’s personality
  • Ground rules:
    • Have fun
    • Do the homework
    • You’re always training
  • Four A’s of learning:
    • Stage 1: Acquired: first success ever
    • Stage 2: Automatic: 80 percent success
    • Stage 3: Application: generalized skill to variety of places and situations
    • Stage 4: Always: skill melds into everyday life
  • Three P’s of relationship:
    • Positive
    • Play
    • Pals
  • Natural canine orientation is visual, not verbal
  • Treat techniques:
    • Slot machine: random treats
    • Jackpot: give 5-7 treats for one good success, none for other successes
  • Recall: lure at a distance. Add verbal cue.
  • Add name to any positive cue, never to negative cue
  • Release: drop leash and point to play area
  • Which hand game to engage pupper
  • Be a tree on walks to help with leash walking

5: Week Two: Training in Everyday Life

  • What gets rewarded, gets reinforced. What gets ignored, disappears
  • Off/take it: Just let him take treats from your hand and mark it with “good take it”
    • Give up what he has with “off”
    • Make sure to pair “off” with at least an equal value “take it”
  • Informal heel: walk-stop-sit sequence over and over, small walks in between.

6: Week Three: Advancing to Verbal Cues

  • Start adding verbal cues for your commands

7: Week Four: Completing the Foundation

  • Door boundary training
    • Whenever I open a door, dog must wait for me to go through before he does
    • Start interior, make him sit at doorway, then cue “let’s go” to go through
  • Doorbells: if you ignore, dog will ignore. Make sure he doesn’t jump on visitors. Ignore if he jumps.
  • Chill: once dog is down, has to stay there
    • Keep treating as he stays inn down

8: Week Five: Reviewing the Basic Skills

  • Has a quick guide to all the skills
  • Stand: Start with sit. Lure to standing, treat. Then add verbal cue

9: Training Games and Activities

  • Retrieve: go fetch and bring back. Can try training verbal cue “fetch” as well.

10: Clicker Training and Dog Tricks

  • Replace the word “good” with a “click” sound.
    • Advantage: clearer, more distinct noise than voice. Doesn’t change. Marks exact moment.
  • Tricks to target:
    • Wave
    • Roll over
    • Sit pretty
    • Toy cleanup