Dog Training 101
Jean Donaldson is the founder and principal instructor of the Academy for Dog Trainers, which has trained and certified more than 700 trainers in evidence-based dog behavior, training, and private behavior counseling since 1999. Ms. Donaldson is a four-time winner of the Dog Writers Association of America’s Maxwell Medallion. Her books include The Culture Clash; Mine! A Practical Guide to Resource Guarding in Dogs; Fight! A Practical Guide to the Treatment of Dog-Dog Aggression; Dogs Are from Neptune; Oh Behave! Dogs from Pavlov to Premack to Pinker; and Train Your Dog like a Pro. Born in Montreal, Canada, Ms. Donaldson founded the Montreal Flyball Association and Renaissance Dog Training, the first positive reinforcement-based school and counseling service in the province. Her own dogs and dogs she has trained have earned numerous titles and wins in various competitive dog sports. While a student, Ms. Donaldson worked as an adoption counselor at the Montreal SPCA (Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals) and later served on its board of directors. Before founding the Academy for Dog Trainers, Jean dealt exclusively with aggression cases for six years. She lives in Oakland, California, with her dog, Brian, adopted in 2015.
01: The Principles of Dog Training
Get an introduction to the importance of training dogs, both for owners and the dogs themselves. Through some powerful analogies, Professor Donaldson will put you in the mindset of your dog to show you why certain training methods don’t work and others do. Learn the three key principles of dog training that will provide the foundation for every lesson moving forward. She’ll also recommend some important tools to have on hand.
02: Getting the Behavior: Training Mechanics
Dig into the “software your dog comes bundled with” and discover how common psychological practices can help us train dogs to overcome their instinctual behaviors. Professor Donaldson defines terms you’ll be using throughout the training such as prompting, capturing, and shaping. Master the first basic obedience commands: sit and down.
03: Getting the Behavior: Sit and Down
Professor Donaldson provides alternatives for dogs who have trouble with sit and down. She then continues with fundamental obedience through recall, or coming when called, using classical—or Pavlovian—conditioning. She’ll also review the importance of choosing and using the appropriate verbal cues.
04: Getting the Behavior: Prompting and Premack
Get some valuable reassurance and reinforcements about continuing your training in a consistent manner as you take on the challenge of getting your dog to go down from a sit, down from a stand, sit from a down, and sit from a stand. You’ll also tackle station and watch and evolve your recall from Pavlovian (rewards) to Premack (positive reinforcement).
05: Getting the Behavior: Verbal Cues
Reinforce the same obedience behaviors your dog has already learned but move from verbal cues to hand signals. Professor Donaldson will also introduce toggling to help your dog avoid getting stuck in a behavior pattern.
06: Understanding Your Dog’s Behavior
Professor Donaldson reveals the fascinating evolution of dogs that provides insight into why dogs do many of the things they do. This foundation gives you the background to help train, or un-train, certain actions. You’ll uncover fight/flight instincts, canine social structure, courtship and reproductive behaviors, and the characteristics and styles of dog play.
07: Impulse Control: Leave It, Wait, Leash Walking
One of the best ways to curb instincts in your dog is to instill impulse control. Professor Donaldson teaches you how to teach dogs to cool their jets with sit-stay, down-stay, leave it, wait, and loose leash walking. She’ll also cover the three most important parameters in down-stay and sit-stay: distraction, distance, and duration.
08: Impulse Control: Increasing Generalization
Take your first set of impulse control trainings to the next level by adding in distractions and increasing the distance or duration. Professor Donaldson also provides some alternatives if you find the loose leash walk to be challenging.
09: Impulse Control: Deepening Obedience
Building on the previous two lessons, expand the impulse control techniques even further with more difficult distraction, distance, and duration challenges.
10: Impulse Control: Cold Trials and Finishing
By now your dog is figuring out that “good things come to those who wait” and is starting to work on impulse control without being told. At this point in training, your dog has also figured out that obedience is The Strategy to get what he wants. This empowering realization means your dog understands he can take charge and control the situation to get the outcome he wants, overcoming some of the basic instincts that used to guide his behaviors.
11: Fear and Aggression Prevention
Professor Donaldson defines fear or aggression versus just being upset and teaches you how to recognize these traits in dogs. She outlines the five mechanisms that drive fear and discusses a classification system that covers aggression to strangers, resource guarding, and intolerance of body handling, as well as suggestions for handling each behavior.
12: Proofing Behavior across Contexts
Start the proofing process, which means your dog will be proving he knows behaviors even in different conditions or environments. Professor Donaldson demonstrates how taking the same training regimen on the road can have different results and what to do to get over obstacles such as competing motivation, distractions, or problems with generalization.
13: On the Road: Training in Public Spaces
Professor Donaldson shows various techniques out in the field as she puts the wait command to the test at a dog park. Watch and learn as she adds in distraction, distance, and duration for more of a challenge. She provides valuable tips to help transition practicing the same lessons in an unfamiliar environment.
14: Verbal Cues: Developing Discrimination
Despite our best endeavors, dogs don’t understand our words—they guess. Learn how to overcome your dog’s attempt to guess what you want in order to get treats by recognizing and leveraging aggregate or cumulative reinforcement, recency, the order of events, or his own preferred behaviors.
15: Tricks: Wave, Take a Bow, Spin, Heel
Examine the difference between tricks and obedience. Explore why teaching tricks can be beneficial to your dog as you work through three types of trick training: non-transitive or simple actions, transitive, and behavior chains. By using the foundation of obedience training you’ve already established, you can teach old (and young) dogs new tricks.
16: Tricks: Distance Drop, Frisk, Sit Pretty
Professor Donaldson spends an entire lecture demonstrating how to train tricks including distance drop, fugitive frisk, and sit pretty. She explains that, from here, you can string these tricks together to make a chain of tricks, or use the same principles to train your dog to do any trick he is physically capable of doing.
17: Building a Conditioned Emotional Response
After a brief review of how respondent conditioning, also known as classical conditioning or Pavlovian conditioning, works, Professor Donaldson reveals tips for using this method to train your dog. She shares the rules for using conditioning and demonstrates how it works by conditioning a dog for having his teeth brushed.
18: Husbandry: Handling and Object Conditioning
Husbandry refers to the physical care we give our dogs such as feeding, grooming, health monitoring, medical care, and more. Professor Donaldson shows you how to use training to prep your dog for some of the aspects of care that he may not enjoy.
19: Husbandry: Limb Handling and Toothbrushing
Professor Donaldson helps you prepare your dog for unpleasant care, such as ear drops and working with their feet. In addition to helping your dog remain calm and allowing someone to examine his sensitive areas, this sort of exercise helps your dog learn to trust you.
20: Puppies and Senior Dogs
Contrary to the old cliché, you can teach old dogs new tricks—and new dogs old tricks. Professor Donaldson reviews the ages and stages of dog maturity and has tips for which training to start your puppies with and how to choose the right puppy socialization class. She provides insightful instructions on training older dogs as well, including how to consider any physical ailments they may have.
21: Housetraining, Chewing, and Digging
Professor Donaldson debunks a common myth about dog behavior. She discusses in depth the reasons dogs may have accidents and provides several ways to train your dog out of this behavior. She covers a number of techniques to curb common bad habits such as chewing and digging with distraction or alternatives.
22: Crating and Alone Training
There are many benefits to using a crate. They can aid in separation anxiety and give your dogs a place of their own to feel safe. Professor Donaldson demonstrates the benefits and reviews the options for choosing a crate and for getting your dog accustomed to one.
23: Managing Barking
Did you know there are five kinds of barking? Professor Donaldson examines the various reasons dogs bark and provides suggestions to train your dog out of this behavior. She also explains why this is one of the more frustrating areas to train, but by understanding the motivation for barking and applying consistent methods, you can more effectively and efficiently learn to work with ways to stop it.
24: Training Challenges and Solutions
When it comes to training, you must define what is keeping your dog from picking up what you are teaching; defining if your dog has what problems or why problems can alleviate frustration. Professor Donaldson explains how to motivate a dog and adjust your rate of reinforcement for these and a number of other common obstacles that may stand in his way. She also provides tips for transitioning out of training mode and into integrating what your dog has learned into common behaviors.