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Certificate III in Dog
Behaviour and Training
Conduct dog obedience training

This qualification is certified under the Australian Qualifications Framework.
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Training for Action or Abstinence 6
Deterioration of Trained Skills 7
Reasons for Non-Compliance 7


Work Mode, Release Mode and Switching Modes 14
Termination Cue 14
Formal and Informal Commands 14

Teaching Phase 17
Training Phase 18
Proofing Phase 19

Continuous Reinforcement 22
Intermittent Reinforcement 22
Training Using Successive Approximations 23

Reward and Reinforcement 25
Correction and Punishment 26

Selective Reinforcement of Behaviour 29
Using Conditioned Reinforcers 29
Luring 30
Targeting 30
Capturing 31
Mimicry 31
Guiding / Compelling / Moulding 32
Introducing the Cue / Command 32
Fading 33
Shaping and Creating Behaviour Using Successive Approximations 34
Order of Shaping Behaviour 34
Shaping Multiple Criteria 35
Chaining 35

Flat Collars 38
Martingale Collars 39
Correction Chains 40
Prong / Pinch Collars 41
Leads 42
Long-lines and Retractable Leads 43
Head Collars 44
Harnesses 45
Muzzles 46
Remote Training Device / E Collar 47

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When training dogs we have three main aims:

1. Teaching new skills
The teaching of skills can be broadly divided into 2 categories:
1. Modification of the dogs natural (instinctive) behaviour to suit our requirements
2. Learning new skills that the dog would not innately exhibit but is capable of performing, with

2. Stopping / Modifying Undesirable Behaviour
Unwanted instinctive behaviour (e.g. dog to dog aggression, destructive behaviour)
Learnt and / or trained behaviour that is no longer required or acceptable by the owner /

3. Socialisation and Confidence Development
Initially used to develop a social, confident animal
Later used to solve social or over-reactivity problems
Developing confidence =reducing fear

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Dogs learn primarily through the faculty of memory
We must consistently and repeatedly show the dog what is to his advantage and what is not
By training in this manner, we will instil into his memory how (when and when not to) to carry
out certain behaviours
If an experience the dog receives is dramatic enough, it will be permanently etched in the
dog's memory (e.g. falling off the A-Frame during agility, giving a harsh correction to a timid
dog, etc.)
Dogs learn more efficiently by winning, than by losing
It is your job as a trainer, to teach the dog where his advantage lies. If the dog cannot work
out how to 'win', we must either show him or make the task simpler

It is not always clear whether you are training to stop an undesirable action (abstinence) or
teaching a new skill (action); this should always be identified prior to commencement.

In some cases, we are training for both abstinence and action.

Teaching a dog to obey our commands
Building an association between the required action and the cue (command or signal)
For dogs to want to perform actions for us (obey commands), they must believe there is
something in it for them (i.e. it is to their advantage)
The level of motivation the animal has for the reward it is working for, plays a major part in
how the animal learns and performs
The dog must also learn the consequences of not complying. This may be withholding an
expected reinforcer (P-) or giving a correction (P+)

Training a dog to stop an undesirable action
In many cases, a few effective corrections should be all that is needed for the dog to
discontinue the exhibited behaviour
There are many other techniques used to stop and reduce behaviours. These will be discussed
in detail throughout the program

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The rate at which a trained skill will deteriorate is in direct proportion to how the behaviour relates
to the dog's instincts and will vary greatly, from individual to individual.

As a rule; behaviours that the dog is genetically (and environmentally) prepared for, are learnt
quicker and retained longer, without the need for ongoing training.

There are only two reasons why a dog does not comply with a command or signal:

1. It cannot obey
The dog may be unable to comply with a known command / signal for a number of reasons:

Physical Limitation: Sick, injured or physically unable
Confusion: The animal does not understand or has forgotten what is
Fear: A strong emotion that can severely affect behaviour

With all three of the above, compulsion or force will not solve the problem; in fact it will
often exacerbate it. The answer lies in solving the underlying problem, whether physical or

2. It will not obey
The dog may be unwilling to obey the command even though it understands what is being asked
and is capable of doing so. It may feel that there is no benefit in performing the action. This is
especially true when the dog is doing an activity it is currently enjoying (e.g. playing with another
dog or chasing a cat and the owner tries to recall the dog).

The problem may also be leadership related and once the owner I handler has re-established the
appropriate level of control / authority, the dog will again comply with known commands.
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If a dog is not performing an action as required, first assume it is not able to. Once you are
certain it is capable and clearly understands what is expected, then and only then, should you
assume the dog is defiant or lazy. This may be due to a lack of motivation (perceived benefits) or
a leadership issue that needs addressing.

If a dog that should know better does not comply with a command, it is not necessarily lazy or
disobedient. There may be deterioration between the command (or signal) and the action.

J ust as when someone asks you to recall a person's name or the words of a song, you cannot
always immediately recall it but after a quick revision, you are as clear as you were originally. It is
very unlikely that if someone was abusing or hitting you, it would help you remember; and this is
equally true for a dog.

The trainer must assess every situation and train the dog accordingl y.

A dog is not capable of understanding why it is not allowed to do certain behaviour or why it must
obey commands. This information is not at all necessary for the dog however, to complete the
task, as the only understanding it needs, is the consequences of its actions; both appetitive
(desirable) and aversive (undesirable).

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The following 10 General Rules are applicable in the vast majority of cases, in the training
of dogs for all purposes. Like all rules however, there will be the occasional (rare)
exception. If the trai ner makes an exception to the rule, then they should have a clear
justification / explanation as to why.

The trainer must read the dog and respond to its behaviour
The trainers ability to respond rapidly to the dogs changing behaviour is one of the most
important elements of successful dog training

Do not expect immediate understanding or compliance
Reward effort and any improvement the dog makes
Most of the time, improvement comes in very small increments
Be patient and do not lose your temper

Show the dog how to win
As high levels of stress often inhibit learning, a dog should not be consistently set up to fail
If the dog is having trouble winning / understanding, make the task simpler

When a problem or sticking point occurs, always try to identify why, before adopting
another method or tactic
If this is not done, the problem may be exacerbated by the new method

If you are not in a position to reinforce and / or enforce the behaviour, you will have no way of
communicating to the dog whether the behaviour was correct or incorrect
Without this communication, no learning occurs
It is reasonable to say that no training (learning) can occur, if you cannot control the

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Teach the dog from the beginning; when it is given a formal command, that command
remains in force until it receives further instructions
It requires a high level of intelligence and deductive reasoning, to comprehend the concept of
time as we (humans) know it. It is not at all practical for the dog to guess how long it must
remain in a commanded position (e.g. sit or drop)

Punishment should only be applied if you catch the dog in the act or if there is a
connection between the event and the consequence
The dog must realise the connection between the behaviour and the punisher A high
contiguity factor
There are a number of problems that may develop, if this does not occur
The exception to this, is if the dog has previously been caught in the act many times

If you need to give the dog a correction, do not reward the dog immediately after
Only reward, after desired behaviour
Immediately rewarding the dog after a punitive event (e.g. a correction) will, in all
likelihood, dramatically reduce the effectiveness of the punitive event and make it less
likely to weaken behaviour. As a result, the whole process becomes counter productive
Some dogs may deliberately disobey, in order to get the reward they have learnt always
follows a punisher
The correction can become reliably predictive of the reward, thus making what was
intended to be a punishing event; appetitive
To optimise the effect of any correction (including verbal, physical, conditioned, etc.) it is
strongly recommended not to immediately follow any punitive event with rewards / praise
The recommendation is; if you correct the dog for non-compliance to a known command,
you may:
(a) Wait at least 10 seconds for the connection to diminish (low contiguity factor)
(b) Command the dog to do the same exercise / activity and if the dog performs
correctly (the dog has learned from the correction), then give the reward

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As a rule; the longer the punishment is delayed, the more severe it will need to be, to have
the same effect
The kindest and most effective way, is to administer the punishment at the commencement of
the behaviour sequence. This is often at the posturing stage (e.g. when the dog starts to
stack up)
It is acceptable for a dog to orient towards a distraction or stimulus, provided there is no other
unwanted behaviour exhibited

Having a training plan will dramatically reduce training time and stress levels
If we fail to plan; we plan to fail!
A detailed temperament / behaviour profile should be conducted prior to commencing
training. This will not only ensure the dog has the capacity to perform the tasks required but
will also significantly influence the methods and techniques used

The question is:

Can you punish a dog for thinking
about exhibiting unwanted behaviour?

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To help the dog understand the process of training more easily, we teach him that there is a time
for work (or training) and a time for play (or rest). In addition to this, the use of a release or
termination cue (explained below) offers significant benefits in many aspects of training.

Working Mode
Under total control of the handler
Performing an action or task
Awaiting further instruction

Release Mode
A release or termination cue communicates to the dog that the particular exercise / activity
is over
Free to do as it wants (but must still abide by the laws of the land)

Switching Modes
The dog can be switched from one mode to another by using a conditioned stimulus
Usually done with a voice command (e.g. Free, Play, etc.) but can also be hand signals,
whistles and other visual or audible cues

Termination Cue
Some animal trainers refer to the release as a termination cue because it terminates (finishes)
that exercise / activity. It is important to note however, that some animal trainers use their
conditioned reinforcer (CR) as the termination cue / release command. This is often used with
marine mammal trainers when they blow their whistle (their CR); this process is applied far less
often, in the training of dogs.

When giving known commands to the dog, in most circumstances that command remains in
force until further instruction (communication) is given. These are referred to as formal
commands and include; sit, drop / down, heel, etc.

With formal commands, once the dog is given the cue (command, hand signal, etc.) it not only
needs to comply (e.g. sit), but must remain in that position, until further instructions are given.

There are other commands, for example Go outside, where the dog must comply at the time of
command but once it has done so, it does not need to wait for further instruction. These are
referred to as informal commands and are usually (but not always) go to commands.
It is important to note that there is no absolute in distinction, between informal and formal
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commands. This is because one handler may have no real expectation of the dog when it is told
to go to the car (other than just getting in), whereas another handler may expect the dog to lay
down and remain there, until given further command.

In these examples, the command Go to the car is informal for the first handler but formal for the
second. The distinction is made, based on the handlers expectation.

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The training of dogs to perform skills and respond to commands is normally conducted in three
phases. As a rule; each new exercise the dog learns, needs to go through each of the phases:

1. Teaching
2. Training
3. Proofing

This process is relevant to all methods of training, however the information contained here is
more specific to the training of dogs using conventional, hands-on methods and techniques.

When using, primarily inducive methods (e.g. Capturing and Luring), there will be other
considerations discussed throughout the text.

When a dog first begins training, it:
Does not understand any of the processes
Does not know that when you give a command, it must carry out / cease an action
Does not understand that behaviour has consequences (it can get rewards)
Does not understand that a command / cue is an opportunity for reward

One of the roles of the Teaching Phase is to teach the dog these concepts. If the dog has no
previous learning, it is recommended to teach the simplest skills first, until the dog learns the
basic concepts. It is normally recommended to install a conditioned reinforcer, prior to

During the Teaching Phase you must:
Make all exercises very short and clear
Reward every action that moves closer to the target behaviour
Repeat the process, until the dog clearly understands what is expected, to receive its
Do not expect accuracy and / or speed

Principles of the Teaching Phase
Capture or
Induce (lure) or
Show (observe and imitate) or
Guide (place in position or physically assist)
Motivate and encourage
Initially, the dog must learn to learn
Teach the dog the rules of the game (To get what you want, you must first give me what I
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Reinforce every correct behaviour, regardless of quality (Continuous Schedule of
Minimise the opportunities for making mistakes
Minimum levels of distraction
Minimal or no corrections
Teach Work and Release Modes / termination cue
Develop effective leadership
Develop cue / word association (multiple commands)
Make it clear, what is expected
Create easy patterns
Keep expectations to a minimum, regarding the dogs performance

End of the Teaching Phase
The Teaching Phase ends when:
The skill has been learnt
The dog understands what it must do, to receive reinforcement
Command / cue / word association is confirmed

If the method of training you are using involves guiding, placing or assisting the dog into the
desired position / action, it is highly recommended that once the dog is in position (e.g. sit, drop,
etc.) it be held there and not allowed to escape (e.g. stand up or move away), until it is released.
This prevents the dog from making mistakes, increases the connection between the command
and action and clearly defines the difference between Work Mode and Release Mode.

The Training Phase begins when the dog understands what is expected of it, when given a
command; however this does not necessarily mean the dog will comply.

The Training Phase is about developing an expectation that the dog, not only knows what the cue
means but WILL comply, with a reasonable degree of reliability.

Principles of the Training Phase
Induce Motivate Encourage
Enforce Compel
Repetition to develop habits
Expect sticking points plateaus highs and lows
Tolerance patience
Realistic expectations
Introduce distractions
Introduce new environments and situations, to develop generalisation
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Switch to Intermittent Schedule of Reinforcement
Persistence overcomes resistance

End of the Training Phase
The Training Phase ends when:
The dog complies to a given command each time, around mild distractions
The dog knows and understands the consequences of non-compliance

If the teaching method is to lure the animal into the desired position / action, it is in the Training
Phase that the cue changes from an offer or opportunity for reward to a command.


Every effort is made to reduce the
likelihood of the dog escaping from the
commanded position (e.g. sit). By
preventing the dog from escaping, it will
learn that it must remain in position until
Dog learns appetitive
consequences of compliance
Dog is allowed to escape from
command position
Dogs learns aversive
consequences of non-compliance
(P+or P-)
Duration of time dog is expected to
remain in position, should be
progressively increased
Dog should be given sufficient time
to comply before administering
aversive consequences

The primary aims of the Proofing Phase are to:
Increase the reliability of the dogs response to commands
Reinforce the behaviour under distractions
Develop a general effect in all environments

Principles of the Proofing Phase
Reinforce behaviour in more complex situations
Must be able to control the consequences of the behaviour
Use numerous distractions of varying intensity (low, medium and high levels)
Train in numerous different environments and situations
Proof general effect in all circumstances
If mistakes occur go back to Training Phase for a short period
Introduce more complex methods and principles
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So far, we have learnt that when developing a new skill, every correct response should receive a
reward (reinforcement). This is termed a Continuous Schedule of Reinforcement.

This, of course, will not always be possible in practical training. We may not see the correct
response or may not be in a position to reinforce it. The other problem with a Continuous
Schedule of Reinforcement is that the animal has a very high expectation about the reinforcer. If
the reinforcement ceases, it disconfirms the established pattern. This pattern of reinforcement is
what is maintaining and / or strengthening the behaviour, therefore when it stops, the behaviour
will change rapidly.

Behaviour on a continuous schedule of reinforcement is highly prone to extinction and / or
behaviour changes, when the reinforcement ceases.

The ultimate aim of reinforcement is that the reinforcer should maintain and / or strengthen the
behaviour; however the behaviour should not be dependent on the reinforcer.

Hooper, B. (1998)

In order to achieve this, we must teach the animal not to expect to be rewarded every time it
exhibits the correct behaviour. We do this by moving to an Intermittent Schedule of
Reinforcement. Intermittent schedules come in several forms and can be either fixed or variable.

Normally during the Teaching Phase, we would use a Continuous Schedule of Reinforcement to
help the animal see the pattern and see more clearly where its advantage lies. Once the dog has
an understanding of what is required, it is normally recommended to move to an Intermittent
Schedule of Reinforcement.

The only exception to this is where we are teaching the animal to select from multiple choice
options (e.g. scent discrimination exercises). In this instance, every time the animal correctly
discriminates, it should be reinforced.
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Every response (behaviour) is reinforced. It produces the most rapid learning (Teaching Phase),
however, it is very prone to extinction if reinforcement ceases. The behaviour is also dependent
(conditional) on the reinforcer.

Most rapid learning (Teaching Phase)
Prone to rapid extinction, if reinforcement ceases
Performance tends to reach a plateau
High levels of anticipation (this can be a good or bad thing)
Reinforcing every response will develop a high level of anticipation. In certain circumstances, this
is a good thing but in others, it can create problems.

This topic is discussed in further detail, later in the program.

The response (behaviour) is reinforced intermittently. This would normally produce a far slower
initial learning curve (Teaching Phase), however it is less prone to extinction when reinforcement

Intermittent reinforcement is also referred to as Non-continuous or Variable reinforcement.

Giving the reward onl y some of the time, will reinforce behaviour but not make the
behaviour dependent upon the reinforcer.

More resistant to extinction
Higher level of enthusiasm
Slower initial learning curve (Teaching Phase)

The above process is relevant whether you are using conditioned or unconditioned reinforcers.
This means that with an established behaviour, you should not give the reinforcer (including a
verbal or mechanically CR) every time.
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For the vast majority of training, the most productive and effective approach is to selectively
reinforce behaviours that are moving closer to the target behaviour (end goal). The process of
selectively reinforcing only those behaviours that are moving closer and closer to the final result,
is termed; training through Successive Approximations.

The term successive represents the fact that the reinforcer is given one after the other over a
period of time. The term approximation represents that we are reinforcing behaviours that
approximate / resemble the final behaviour we are aiming for.

In common training vernacular, the process of training through Successive Approximations is
referred to as Shaping.

Any time the animal makes an improvement (deliberately or accidentally) and / or makes an
effort, the reinforcer is given. Any time the animal does not offer a behaviour that is moving
closer to our target behaviour, we withhold the reinforcer.

Also called Approximation Conditioning
Reinforce effort and / or improvement toward the target behaviour
Reinforce any improvement, even if it wasnt deliberate
Reinforce any effort to perform better / faster
Reinforce any action that is moving closer to the final goal

The dog can control the outcome
Teaches the dog that it must work to earn the reward
Promotes ongoing improvement
Highly resistant to extinction
Maintains high levels of enthusiasm
Higher level of handler skill required

Training through Successive Approximations can be done on a Continuous or Intermittent
Schedule of Reinforcement. As a general guideline (as previously discussed); it is recommended
that during the initial stages of training, a continuous schedule be utilised to develop a clear
pattern and once this is established, move to an intermittent schedule.

It is important to realise that if you do reinforce every behaviour (because you believe the dog
has made an effort / improvement) you have, in fact, put the dog onto a Continuous Schedule of
Reinforcement. It is for this reason that when training a dog through Successive Approximations,
you must be aware of the importance of intermittent schedules (as previously discussed).
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Now that you are beginning to utilise your reward / reinforcement and correction / punishment in
a practical (applied) setting, we need a checklist and guidelines, to ensure that things stay on
track and to assist with trouble shooting.

Aims of Reinforcement
Increase frequency and / or intensity of the behaviour
Communicate that the behaviour is correct / wanted
Make the behaviour (more) desirable to exhibit
Teach the dog that it can control its environment (the consequences) by its behaviour

Rules for Reinforcement
In order for a reward to be successful (to reinforce behaviour) the following must occur:
1. The dog must see (realise) the connection between the behaviour and the consequence
2. The consequence must be something the dog wanted to occur at that time
3. It should occur during or immediately after behaviour
4. It must meet or exceed the expectations of the animal

Unsuccessful Reinforcers
If a behaviour is not being reinforced (your training is not having the desired result) there are
many possible causes. The list below includes the most common reasons:
It was presented too early (bribe)
The dog did not realise the connection between the behaviour and the consequence
The reward (consequence) was not something the dog wanted at that time
It did not meet or exceed the animals expectations
Too much non-contingent reinforcement (freebies)
Reinforcing multiple behaviours / criteria simultaneously. In most cases, it is recommended to
train one criteria at a time, to avoid confusion
As has been previously explained; reinforcement refers to the
strengthening of behaviour and punishment refers to the weakening of
behaviour. As a rule; we give the dog rewards, in an attempt to
reinforce certain behaviours and correct the dog (and use other
aversive consequences) with the aim of punishing other behaviours.

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Aims of Punishment
To stop the dog exhibiting the behaviour (disruptor )
To communicate to the dog that the behaviour is not acceptable / permitted
To teach the consequence of the behaviour (aversive)
To make the behaviour less desirable to exhibit
To permanently (more or less) weaken the target behaviour
To reduce / eliminate the need for future punishment

Rules for Punishment
1. Do not use punishers if they will make the problem worse
2. The dog must be aware of what behaviour the punisher is related to (i.e. it must realise a
connection between the behaviour and the consequence). There are a number of factors that
influence how well the animal connects the behaviour to the consequence (e.g. timing /
contiguity, distractions, other behaviours occurring simultaneously)
3. Must meet or exceed the expectation of the animal
4. Wherever possible, the dog should know what it can to do to avoid / prevent the punisher

Intensity of Punishers
The intensity of any punisher should always be relative to the size, age and temperament of
the dog
The intensity of the punisher is not determined by the severity of the crime, as it is with
humans (e.g. you dont punish less for chewing up an old thong than you would, a $300 pair
of Italian leather boots).
There may be exceptions to this however; if the situation involves safety / preservation of life
(e.g. you may give a harsher correction if the dog runs across the road, than you would if the
dog ran off at the park)
The intensity should be based on how well the dog knew the behaviour was not permitted

One of the primary aims of any punishment is to reduce / eliminate the need for
future punishment.

Hooper, B.K.

Instead of grinding away at a very dull axe, a dogs welfare is better served by
teaching the owner when punishment is necessary and how to use it effectively
and humanely

Lindsay, S (2001)
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This is the only process that does not require deductive reasoning and as such, is the only fair
method of determining the intensity of punishment.

Unsuccessful Punishment
If the punisher is not successful, there are a number of possible causes. These include but are
not limited to:
The dog did not realise the connection between the behaviour and the consequence
It did not meet or exceed the animals expectations
The timing of the correction / punisher was either, too early or too late. For a punisher to be
effective, it must occur either during or immediately after, the behaviour you are trying to
The dog did not consider the punisher as aversive (enough)

Correction, Discipline and Punishment
Giving a dog a check on the chain or verbal reprimand may be perceived as punishment by
the handler, however punishment is not determined by the event (i.e. check or No);
punishment is determined by the effect it has on behaviour
If the behaviour became weaker or less likely to occur, then the check or No was
If the behaviour did not change as a result of correction / discipline, then the event (check or
No) was at the very least, a waste of time but may in fact create further problems
Every correction (attempt to punish) that does not weaken behaviour will tend to desensitise
the animal. This means that the intensity of the punisher needed to affect a change, will
need to be higher

The question is:

Why cant we use the same principle of punishing dogs
that we use for punishing humans?

What is the premise for determining the intensity
(harshness) of punishment for human crimes?

Is this within the dogs comprehension / level of
One of the most common reasons that attempts at punishing behaviour fail, is
because the motivation the animal has to exhibit the unwanted behaviour,
exceeds the motivation the animal has to avoid the aversive consequence we
have attached.
Hooper, B.

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Shaping is the process of selectively reinforcing behaviours
It uses the principle of reinforcement through Successive Approximations (also called
approximation conditioning), moving the dog progressively toward the target behaviour (desired
It is the reinforcement (rewarding) of actions that are moving closer to the target behaviour
When shaping behaviour, it is normally recommended to selectively reinforce ANY behaviour /
action that is moving toward the target behaviour no matter how small the progression /
improvement is
If the behaviour is not offered by the dog or is not up to the standard the handler expects at this
point in the animals training, then the reinforcer (food, toy, praise, etc.) may be withheld
(Negative Punishment P-)
It is the reinforcement of certain behaviours and the withholding of reinforcement for other
behaviours, which allows the animal to see (realise) what is required to get the reward. As the
dog learns, it will tend to offer more and more wanted behaviours in order to achieve its goal

Selecting the type of conditioned reinforcer to use is normally determined by the species of
animal, the environment the animal will be trained / working in, practicality and personal
preference of the trainer. As outlined in our discussion on Pavlovian Conditioning, virtually
anything can be conditioned and used as a reinforcer.

Some trainers call a conditioned reinforcer a mark. This is because you are able to
communicate to the animal (mark) the exact behaviour you want to reinforce (e.g. by saying
Yes or pressing the clicker at the exact moment the behaviour occurs)

The term mark is an abbreviation of event marker.

Some trainers call a conditioned reinforcer a bridge. This is because it bridges the gap
between the target behaviour occurring and the animal receiving an unconditioned (primary)

The term bridge is an abbreviation of bridging stimulus.

Practical Application of Conditioned Reinforcers
For practical purposes in the training of most animals, the bridge / mark is normally verbal or
The use of verbal bridges / marks is very practical (e.g. Yes or Good)
The use of mechanical bridges / marks enables you to be very precise (e.g. clicker or whistle)
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There are a number of techniques that can be incorporated in the training of dogs. Some can be
used independently and some can be combined to achieve optimal results. These include:
Guiding / Molding

This is one of the more popular techniques used by trainers, as it is an inducive training
It involves using a reward (e.g. food, treat or toy) to lure / coax the animal into the desired
position (or exhibit the desired behaviour)
The reward is presented in advance of the behaviour being performed, to entice the dogs
interest and lure it into the desired position / action
The animal initially follows the lure in order to get it and once in the desired position, will
receive the reward
As the training progresses, the animal offers / exhibits the behaviour in order to get the
Luring uses the principles of Positive Reinforcement (R+) and Negative Punishment (P-). The
giving of the treat or toy is the Positive Reinforcement (R+) component and withholding of the
treat or toy (when the action is not presented or satisfactory) is the Negative Punishment (P-)

Examples of skills that can be taught by the process of Luring include but are not limited to:
Obedience exercises
Leg weaving

Shaping a behaviour of touching or following a target object
Animals can be trained to target on a wide variety of objects / items
There are many different categories:
o Basic touch object or hand, etc
o Complex animal needs to move, search or reach further
o Follow the target moves
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o Extended stay at or touching target for extended period
o Varied types hand, ball, stick, mat
Once the animal has been trained to target efficiently, this skill can be utilised to train a wide
variety of other behaviours

Examples of skills that can be taught by the process of Targeting include but are not limited to:
Button press
Close door / drawer
Go to a mark / place

This technique involves the trainer waiting for the desired behaviour to occur and then
positively reinforcing it
This is most efficiently done by marking the behaviour with a conditioned reinforcer (e.g. clicker
or Yes)
Capturing is a good option for behaviour that the animal offers naturally, on a frequent basis.
This, of course, varies significantly from dog to dog
Is used extensively in the training of marine mammals and exotic animals, where the use of
other techniques is often impractical
Capturing uses the principle of Positive Reinforcement. With Capturing, the dog has no
expectation that it will receive a reinforcer for exhibiting the behaviour, therefore the lack of
presentation (withholding) of the reinforcer is not technically a negative punisher, as it is with

Examples of skills / actions that can be taught by the process of Capturing include but are not
limited to:
o Rolling on back
o Growling / barking
o Stretching / Yawning (Although it may be difficult to place these behaviours under
command control and have them look authentic)
o Handler focus / attention

We aim to stimulate the behaviour through observation and imitation
True observation and imitation learning is a very complex process, beyond the scope of this
discussion. For practical purposes, the following information will serve the trainer well
During this process, we may get the dog to observe another dog or even the trainer, exhibiting
the desired behaviour with the hope that it will imitate
Mimicry utilises very similar processes to Capturing, in that we wait for a dog to exhibit the
desired behaviour (after observing the other dog / trainer), then mark / reward the behaviour
More likely to be effective with pups / young dogs. Scientific literature shows very little success
from observation / imitation learning with mature animals (but its always worth a try)
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Examples of skills / actions that can be taught by the process of Mimicry include but are not limited
Going through a tunnel
Play bow

This process involves the trainer physically guiding / assisting the animal into the desired
position and / or action (e.g. the trainer holds and raises the dogs paw, to assist teaching it to
shake hands)
This technique involves using pressure (and in some cases, even force) to ensure the animal
complies with the command or carries out an action
This may involve a degree of discomfort / stress to the animal, which is only removed when
the desired behaviour is exhibited. The degree of pressure placed on the animal will vary
between exercises and is largely influenced by the handlers training philosophy, as well as
the temperament of the dog. What may be reasonable / ethical in one circumstance, may not
be in another. It is the responsibility of the trainer to determine the most effective and humane
training method in any given situation
By Guiding / Compelling / Moulding the animal, we are primarily utilising Negative
Reinforcement (R-) to pressure the animal to exhibit the behaviour
Once the desired behaviour is exhibited, the dog receives a Positive Reinforcer (R+). Adding
a Positive Reinforcer (e.g. treat or pat) to the equation, will help reduce the stress of this
method on the dog. It will also (arguably) speed up the learning.
Many trainers use this technique for particular skills / behaviour because it tends to produce a
very reliable response, especially under high levels of distraction

Examples of skills / actions that can be taught by the process of Guiding / Moulding include but
are not limited to:
Shake hands / Take a bow / Play dead
Forced retrieve

At some point in the training process, you will need to introduce a cue or command for the target
behaviour. Exactly when this should be done will vary considerably, depending on the specific
circumstances and methodology / opinion of the trainer.

When Capturing / Luring a new behaviour, it is not normally recommended to introduce the cue /
command until the behaviour is offered at a reasonable level of reliability.

Guiding / Compelling / Moulding is the
way we teach our own children many life
skills such as eating with a knife and fork
or brushing their teeth - by giving physical

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Whether Capturing or Luring, most trainers will initially work on getting the animal to understand
that it needs to offer a particular behaviour, in order to receive the reward. Once the animal
clearly understands that by exhibiting the behaviour it will receive the reward, it is, for most
trainers, the time to introduce the cue / command.

Introducing the cue / command during the Teaching Phase, in Luring for example, rarely works
for a number of reasons:
The food lure and the trainers body language will overshadow the cue
If the animal does not perform the behaviour within a few seconds of the cue being given, little
or no association will develop
The animal may desensitise to the sound of the command, if it is used consistently without any
association developing

Weaning off physical guidance or the use of training aids such as leads, barriers, motivators,
Normally done progressively and in small increments
Also used to describe the progressive decrease of the antecedent stimulus (e.g. the quieting
of a verbal command)

None of the techniques discussed in this section involve the use of Positive
Punishment (P+).
Positive Punishment is normally only used in the following 2 circumstances:
1. To reduce / eliminate unwanted behaviour
2. Where a trained dog is unwilling to comply with a known command
Although Positive Punishment is not normally part of the behaviour shaping
process, it can be utilised in conjunction, to assist the process if required.

The decision of whether to use Positive Punishment, should be determined by the
trainer and the circumstances at the time.
The time to introduce the cue / command is when you have at least a 90% probability that the
animal will perform the behaviour when you give the cue.

Therefore, if you are guiding the animal into position, there is virtually no chance whatsoever of
the dog not complying. In this case, saying the command immediately before placing the animal
into position can be recommended.

On the other, hand if you are using a more hands off approach for example Capturing or
Luring the dog into the desired position / action - then it would not be recommended to introduce
the cue until the dog has the concept and is reliably offering the target behaviour

Hooper, B.
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Whilst Successive Approximations can be used to shape / modify / enhance existing obedience
exercises, they can also be used to create new skills / behaviours. This process is commonly
referred to as Free Shaping.

Creates enthusiasm; inducive.

1. Focus on one part (criteria) of the new behaviour, at a time. When shaping for a new
behaviour, dont work on two criteria simultaneously. Develop each part (criteria) of the
behaviour independently

2. Progressively increase the criteria in small enough increments so the animal always has a
realistic chance for reinforcement. We are not aiming for quantum leaps, our aim is
progressive improvement

3. Be prepared for the unexpected. For example: if the animal makes a sudden big leap
forward in progress, be ready for it. Always have a reinforcer ready to go

4. Whenever possible and / or necessary, use Targeting, Mimicry and / or physical guidance
to assist the process

5. When introducing a new criteria or aspect of the behaviour, temporarily relax the criteria on
the previously trained ones

6. The current level of response should be placed on an Intermittent Schedule of
Reinforcement, before moving to the next level

7. If the behaviour deteriorates, back up significantly and ensure several wins before moving
on again

8. End each training session on a win. It is better to quit early on a high note, than risk
deterioration of the behaviour

The order in which the criteria (parts) should be shaped or created, is a judgement call
based on the personal experiences / preference of the trainer
Different trainers may prefer to train the criteria of the behaviour in a different order; one
trainer may work on the correct position of the sit before developing attention (focus).
Another may choose to train attention first
The order they are taught, often will not matter, provided it follows a systematic approach
and does not confuse the dog
In most cases, logic, common sense and experience will determine the appropriate order
Most trainers work on speed last

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One of the rules for shaping behaviour is to work on each individual criteria, one at a time. Even
simple skills, such as the sit, have several criteria (e.g. position, speed, focus, etc.)
When we are shaping for the first criteria, it is normally recommended to place the first criteria on
an Intermittent Schedule of Reinforcement, prior to moving on to the second criteria. The reasons
for this are as follows:
We would not move on to the second criteria until the first criteria is at a reasonable or high
level of performance
Once the dog has reached this standard in any exercise, it is an ideal time to put the dog on an
Intermittent Schedule of Reinforcement

Once the dog is on an intermittent schedule for the first criteria, it has become used to the fact that it
will not necessarily receive the reward for every correct response. We can now begin shaping the
second criteria because we are not required to reinforce the first criteria every time (as it is no longer
prone to extinction when the reinforcement ceases).

What this means, is that as we begin to shape for the second criteria, we should get minimum
deterioration of the first criteria, even though we are no longer reinforcing it.

NOTE: It is normal during this process, for the original criteria to deteriorate to some degree.

The second criteria should be continuously reinforced until a reasonable standard is achieved and
then it too, should be placed on an intermittent schedule.

Once both criteria are on an intermittent schedule, it is then practical to reinforce either, when it is
done to a high standard. In other words, once the two criteria have been trained independently, they
can then be trained (shaped) simultaneously.

Once the first two criteria have been placed on an Intermittent Schedule of Reinforcement, then the
third criteria can be shaped (e.g. speed).

No matter how many criteria there are in an exercise, each one should be shaped independently and
then placed on an Intermittent Schedule of Reinforcement, before moving to the next.

The linking together of already trained behaviours, to produce a sequence
The completion of one behaviour, cues the start of the next
Behaviour chains can be trained forward or backward. The skill being taught will generally
determine whether a forward or backward chain should be used, however some behaviour
sequences can be taught by either method
The primary / unconditioned reinforcer should be given at the end of the chain and secondary
/ conditioned reinforcers for each link.
The aim of behaviour chains is to condition a stimulus as a reinforcer (because it signals the
opportunity to get reinforcement)
Be prepared for the unexpected!
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Understanding the concept of chaining can be difficult until you see it in action. The process
will be covered (and as such become clear) during your practical training sessions

Forward Chaining
The behaviour sequence is taught in the order the end result will be exhibited
Forward chaining is typically used when free shaping behaviour
Examples where forward chaining may be appropriate are; pushing a pram and a dumbbell

Backward Chaining
The last behaviour you want is trained first; you then work backwards to train the remainder
of the sequence
It is the preceding behaviour that cues the dog to carry out the next link of the chain
An example where backward chaining may be appropriate is; retrieving an item out of a
cupboard, after opening the door

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There are many different tools that should be added to a dog trainers toolbox. Each item has its
purpose, time to be used and time, when not to be used.

The term Flat Collar refers to a collar that has a buckle / clip to fasten. These may be made
of a variety of materials, including leather and a range of synthetic materials such as nylon,
vinyl, etc. Buckles are generally brass / nickel plated and clips are generally plastic

Leather collar, brass buckle Nylon collar, plastic clip Fashion collar

Due to the extensive range of collars available in pet shops, dog owners should be educated
regarding the requirements of collars for home / fashion use, versus the type of collars
suitable for dog training applications
Nylon collars with plastic clips and light weight fashion collars are fine for a dog to wear
during the day, with an identification tag attached but are often not strong enough to use
when attaching to a lead (for walking or training)
Good quality leather, buckle up collars are recommended for dog training purposes
All puppies should be fitted with small collars to become used to (habituated) being on a lead.
As the puppy grows, it will need to be fitted with a larger collar
Flat Collars may be useful for dogs with a high body sensitivity or advanced level dogs that
may not need the physical corrections that can be given when using other training equipment
Flat Collars are normally recommended during the initial stages of habituation,
desensitisation and agility work
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Full Chain Chain and material Full material

Also known as Double Action Slip Collars
There are many different types of Martingale Collar; three of which are pictured above
May give greater control than a Flat Collar and reduces the risk of a dog backing out and
Offers limited closure so there's no choking
Is useful for the sensitive dog and may be safer than a traditional correction chain, for the
novice handler
The full chain martingale cannot be adjusted for dogs with varying sized heads and necks
however there are material alternatives that can have the size adjusted
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Refer to Correction Chain Handout for additional information about this training tool
Correction Chains / Collars (also referred to as Check Chains) are very useful training tools
and are perhaps, used more for conventional style training
There are different variations of correction chains, known as Slip-Collars. These can be made
of leather or a broad strip of nylon and are ideal with a dog, for which the chain is too severe
A Check Chain or thi n Slip Collar should not be used on dogs with Wobblers Syndrome,
dogs with back and neck problems or dogs with long necks (Greyhounds, Whippets, etc.).

Correction Chain Fur Saver Rolled Leather Slip Collar
Nylon Webbing Slip Collar Rolled Nylon Slip Collar
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The Prong or Pinch Collar has been subject to a great deal of controversy between dog trainers
and Government departments. Despite its effectiveness in certain training applications, it is now
illegal for use in the State of Victoria. In all other States, the use of the Prong Collar is still

This training tool is made up of links, with each link comprising of 2 inward facing prongs. The
prongs are blunt and are designed to pinch the skin on the dogs neck, without puncturing the
skins surface or causing musculoskeletal damage to the neck and spine.

The action of the collar is only momentary and due to its effectiveness, the frequency of
corrections required for inappropriate behaviour are greatly reduced. This, of course, is
extremely beneficial to the dog in terms of welfare and the learning process becomes easier and
faster, for both the dog and the handler.

The device is specifically relevant in the training of
large, strong dogs, especially when there is a
disparity between the size and strength of the dog
and the handler / owner.

The Prong Collar has a limited slip, where the design
does not permit unlimited constriction, like that seen
in correction chains and some Head Collars. When
fitted, it should be firm and sit high on the dogs neck.

There have been extensive studies and reports, many from Veterinary Surgeons, advocating the
safety and efficacy of this device. As far as the NDTF is aware, there is no scientific evidence
demonstrating this device is inhumane or unsafe. So whilst it may look cruel, many studies have
shown that the Prong Collar causes less long term damage to a dog than the Correction Chain.
Prong / Pinch Collar
Neck Tech Collar
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There are many different variations of dog leads on the market. For the initial stages of
training, a lead that is 1.5 2 metres in length is ideal
Leads should have metal / brass fittings and be made of a strong, durable material that is
comfortable to hold
Leather or a man-made leather equivalent, is ideal
Always choose a lead that is suitable for the size and strength of the dog. Small dogs would
obviously only need a lightweight lead, while larger breeds would need something more
heavy duty. The fittings and clip are equally as important, as the material itself
Nylon leads can fray, burn hands when pulled through and stitching can easily come undone,
when out in the training field or walking along a busy road. These may be acceptable for
small dogs, providing the fittings are of good quality and the lead (as well as the stitching) is
checked regularly for wear and tear
Chain leads are not suitable as they hurt the trainers hands or can injure the dog if they
become wrapped around its legs. They are useful however, when tethering dogs for short
periods, as they usually cannot chew through them
Leads that are made from stretchy material (bungee leads) or have springs inserted, are not
appropriate for use in training. These are predominantly of poor quality and do not allow the
handler to give an effective correction

Leather Lead with Brass Clip Nylon Lead

Nylon Lead with Spring Chain Lead
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Long lines are available in a range of materials
Long lines typically provide a leash length in excess of 3m and are ideal for training at a
distance and making the transition to off lead obedience
They should only be used by an experienced handler, as they can create mayhem by
tangling up, when used by an inexperienced handler
Long lines come in many different lengths and can quite often, be made to suit any

These come in a range of sizes, correlated to the weight of the dog
Always be sure that the extension and breaking mechanisms of a retractable lead are in
working order and the device selected is suitable for the weight of the dog
Materials are often of poor quality and there is a shortage of high standard products on the
Retractable leads are clumsy to use and are generally unsuitable for training applications
As the length of the lead is disguised by the casing, it can be difficult to determine where
the lead ends; this may result in the dog being exposed to unsafe situations (e.g. reach
other dogs, run onto roads, etc.)
A firm grip should be maintained at all times, to avoid the handler dropping / letting go of the
casing; this may cause further problems, if the casing retracts and hits the dog

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A Head Collar device fits around the dogs neck and muzzle
The lead is typically clipped to the halter under the dogs chin, guiding the dog by the head
rather than the neck
Some dogs insist on pulling when on a lead; Head Collars are designed to allow you to control
the dogs head and therefore; its speed and direction
There are many different Head Collars on the market now, each with its own specifications on
fitting them correctly
You must ensure the Head Collar is fitted correctly for it to be effective. Some Head Collar
variations include: Gentle Leader, Halti, and Black Dog Wear
If you feel that using a Head Collar is an option for a particular dog, it must be used properly as
tugging too hard could cause damage to the dogs neck.
One negative aspect of the Head Collar is that many dogs take a considerable time to
habituate / desensitise to the wearing of the device. In some instances, this can be a major
issue of consideration, on whether to use the Head Collar. This can also be a difficult and
frustrating time for an inexperienced handler, who does not know how to deal with / overcome
this problem

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There are many variations of harnesses available, each with its own individual purpose
Harnesses are designed to fit around the dogs chest and behind its front legs

Fashion / Standard Harnesses
As the harness was originally designed to allow dogs to pull sleds / carts, a standard harness
is useless on a dog that pulls
Have no real training advantage
They may be useful for small dogs, dogs with short faces (where a Head Collar will not fit) or
for dogs that have had neck injuries however, it is preferable to use a no-pull harness in these
Best suited for restraint in cars

No - Pull Harnesses
These are designed to put pressure on the dogs chest and pull its front legs back, when it
forges forward. Many varieties have elastic / rubber / cord that applies pressure to the given
areas, when the dog pulls
It is quite effective, although can cause chafing. Softer, padded varieties may be more
comfortable to the dog but they generally reduce the effectiveness of the device

Working Dog Harnesses
Many dogs in professional applications are required to wear a harness; this may assist the
handler in their duties or may be for identification purposes
Examples include; guide dogs working with the vision impaired, customs and quarantine
dogs, security dogs, assistance dogs, etc.
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A dog that has the tendency or
inclination to bite, may have a muzzle
fitted in order to reduce the risk of biting
other dogs and / or people
It is important to have a muzzle that is
fitted correctly to the dog; it should not
be so tight that it impedes the dogs
wellbeing and not be so loose that the
dog can paw it off his nose
As with a Head Collar, many dogs react
badly to wearing a muzzle
They may shovel into the ground, rub
on their handlers legs or paw at the
muzzle to try to alleviate any discomfort
If muzzles are to be used, they must be effective and humane, permitting the dog to wear
them comfortably and to breath (pant) and drink without difficultly
Types include: wire or plastic cage, leather box and various soft muzzles, made from
materials such as canvas and nylon

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A Remote Training Collar (also known as Remote Trainer or RT) or Electronic
Stimulation Collar (E-Collar) consist of two main components: a receiver that comes
attached to an all-weather collar and a hand-held remote control transmitter that sends
signals to the receiver
There are regulations that need to be abided by, when using a Remote Trainer. These
regulations vary from state to state and MUST be observed BEFORE training
commences. Refer to VU20921 Monitor canine health and welfare for more
Dog trainers residing / training in Victoria can also refer to;
Click on Victorian Law Today, then on Statutory Rules, bookmark P for Prevent of
Cruelty to Animals Act. Regulation number is 7D
Many people are skeptical and wary about Remote Trainers but when you compare
the stimulation it makes, to that of a Correction Chain, many people begin to consider
it as a training option. Education reduces resistance!
When using a leash, you have the ability to alter the intensity of your correction to suit
the aim of your training. For instance; you may give a gentle jingle to disrupt
behaviour or get the dogs attention or you may give a firm correction to punish the
dog for chasing a cat; a Remote Training Collar is no different. Modern technology has
evolved these collars to the point that you can match any dogs temperament and
achieve the training outcome you desire
Remote Trainers are ideal for dogs that chase / kill stock (sheep, chickens, horses,
etc). The dog often pairs the stimulation to the animal it is chasing and therefore,
develops a negative association and decides that chasing is no longer fun
They are also very useful in the training of working dogs, where distance control is
required. (i.e. gun dogs)

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Listed below are some of the most common terms used in Obedience Training (listed
alphabetically). These words have been used throughout your notes and have been marked with
the symbol.

Your notes will contain more detailed descriptions / definitions; however the following list can be
used as a quick reference guide.

CONTIGUITY FACTOR The association between two events that occur closely together in
time. The more closely the two events occur, the more likely they
are to become associated; as time passes, association becomes
less likely
DISRUPTOR A correction that interrupts the behaviour but does not change it in
any permanent way. That is; the dog may cease the behaviour at
the time of disruption but will continue to exhibit the behaviour the
next time it is in the same situation
EXTINCTION The lessening in response to a Conditioned Stimulus (CS). Occurs
due to presentation of the CS without the US. The unpairing of
the CS and US. Extinction has occurred when the CS no longer
reliably predicts the US
GENERAL EFFECT When behaviour occurs in various situations and / or locations
(e.g. when a dog performs a command at home or at the park, that
is learnt at training, generalisation has occurred)
INDUCIVE Training techniques that entice / coax / influence the dog to exhibit
desired behaviour. No force / compulsion is used. In dog training,
Luring is the most common example of this
Giving a dog a reinforcer, regardless of (and / or independent of)
its behaviour. In laymans terms, this is referred to as freebies