$#*! Your Dog Doesn’t Care About

Learn the top 3 things that really matter to your dog--and the top 3 that don’t matter a bit.

Jolanta Benal, CPDT-KA, CBCC-KA
6-minute read
Episode #78

Make it easy for your dog to pass alone time sacked out. Get that physical exercise in, yes, but also throw her kibble on the floor and let her find it piece by piece, the better to tire the hardworking brain that has to process the input from all those olfactory receptors. Stuff a food-dispensing puzzle toy. Learn how to clicker train and teach some tricks. You don’t have to put in tons of time; outsource some brainwork to foraging and puzzle toys, and 15 minutes a day of reward-based training will not only meet those doggy Sudoku needs but also give you a more mannerly friend.

Notice, again, the cheap. Though I have to admit, if you become a training junkie, the books and DVDs and week-long seminars will add up. On the other hand, your dog won’t be the only one having fun, nobody will be bored, and both of you will have a lot of company.

That’s all for this week! Write to me at dogtrainer@quickanddirtytips.com, find The Dog Trainer on Facebook, or follow me on Twitter – I’m Dogalini. I may use your questions and comments as the basis for future episodes. Thanks for reading.

1. Alabama Cooperative Extension Service, “The Dog’s Sense of Smell.”
2. In my article on training small dogs, I discuss the importance of consistency for small dogs, big dogs, and (in the footnotes) pigs.
3. For example: Herron, M. E., et al. 2009. Survey of the use and outcome of confrontational and non-confrontational training methods in client-owned dogs showing undesired behaviors. Applied Animal Behaviour Science 117, 47-54; Hiby, Eleanor, et al. 2004. Dog training methods: their use, effectiveness and interaction with behaviour and welfare. Animal Welfare 13, 63-69; Blackwell, E. J., et al. 2007. The relationship between training methods and the occurrence of behaviour problems in a population of domestic dogs. Proceedings of the 6th International Veterinary Behaviour Meeting and European College of Veterinary Behavioural Medicine, Riccione, Italy, June 17-20.
Anouck Haverbeke and her colleagues have published several papers related to Belgian military dog training; the military had grown concerned about the dogs’ aggressive behavior outside the context of their work. The Haverbeke team reports on the favorable results of changes in training and socialization, with moves toward more reward-based, less aversive methods. Some of the papers are Haverbeke, A., et al. 2009. Assessing undesired aggression in military working dogs. Applied Animal Behaviour Science 117: 55-62; Haverbeke, A., et al. 2010. Efficiency of working dogs undergoing a new Human Familiarization and Training Program. Journal of Veterinary Behavior 5: 112-119; Haverbeke, A., et al. 2010. Assessing efficiency of a Human Familiarisation and Training Programme on fearfulness and aggressiveness of military dogs. Applied Animal Behaviour Science 123: 143-149.
Guide Dogs for the Blind has moved to clicker training for its service dogs. To quote Brad Hibbard, the group’s Oregon training director: “We’re just ecstatic with the results. … We’ve always had very high standards for our dogs here at GDB. What we’re now seeing is more dogs that meet our highest standards—they’re more ‘finished’ when they enter class than they have ever been in our history. Because they really understand what they’re being asked to do, they’re able to start using their own initiative at a much earlier stage than ever before. They have a better attitude—more confidence—much earlier in their training cycle.Their ability to learn tasks has grown tremendously” (Guide Dog News, 2008, issue 2).
Fancy Dog Collar image courtesy of Shutterstock


About the Author

Jolanta Benal, CPDT-KA, CBCC-KA

Jolanta holds professional certifications in both training and behavior counseling and belongs to the Association of Professional Dog Trainers and the International Association of Animal Behavior Consultants. She also volunteered with Pet Help Partners, a program of the Humane Society of the United States that works to prevent pet relinquishment. Her approach is generally behaviorist (Pavlovian, Skinnerian and post-Skinnerian learning theory) with a big helping of ethology (animal behavior as observed in non-experimental settings).