Want to improve your dog’s training?
The Learn to Earn is a program I suggest to most students because it drastically speeds up training time in many common behavior challenges like excessive barking, pulling on leash, bad manners and low-impulse control. When it comes to serious behavior problems where there is risk of a dog biting, becoming aggressive or being rehomed it’s a program that is a must.
Why does the Learn to Earn Program work so well?
To dogs, dog food has monetary value. A piece of kibble is the equivalent to a dollar bill and a piece of chicken is equivalent to $20. Dogs that get everything in life such as a big bowl of dog food without earning it get a free allowance and typically have poor work ethic. This becomes a bigger problem when the dog food is topped with canned dog food and dogs receive treats throughout the day.
Now the dog not only gets a free allowance, but he also gets free bonuses too. Learn to Earn increases a dog’s work ethic making him excited to work and learn.
It is also a safe, non-confrontational way for everyone (even kids) in the household to establish and maintain control over food, toys, attention, preferred resting spots, etc. These resources are ones your dog will learn to happily earn while building positive associations around people and training. His emotional response will start from fear or aggression to excitement and anticipation.
In addition to creating positive feelings your dog will be learning impulse control, by capping his excitement to accesses things that he wants.
We use the all the things your dog loves and teach them how to earn these things instead of giving them away for free.
Your dog is hungry? No problem, he simply has to sit before his bowl is put down. He wants to play fetch? Great! He has to “down” before you throw the ball. Want to go for a walk or a ride? He has to sit to get his leash put on, and has to “sit” while the front door is opened. He has to heel to the car then he has to sit and wait while the car door is opened to earn his car ride.
How do I start to use the learn to earn program?
Your dog will need to know at least one cue to get started like sit. Feeding and mealtime is an excellent time to start. Toss the food bowl and switch to an enrichment feeder like the Kong Wobbler. Here is an article: Enrichment if you want some other ideas. Now have your dog sit and when he does slowly bring the Wobbler to the ground. If your dog stands up breaking the sit position the food comes up, but if he stays sitting the food is set down and he is released to eat.
Remember it isn’t only limited to what your dog eats. You pick up his leash and your dog is excited and comes running. Instead of just snapping the leash on stand still and say sit. Even if he is so excited that instead of sitting, he runs around you wagging his tail while jumping at the leash in your hand. You don’t repeat the command. Don’t run after him or scold him, or push him away when he jumps up. This is dog training so don’t let the dog train you. Instead, you calmly put the leash down and walk away. A minute later, you walk back to the leash and pick it up again. This time he runs over and is still too excited to listen to your command. You repeat the procedure (get the leash, give the command, Fido is too excited so you walk away) —then when your dog finally sits. When he sits, you clip on the leash, praise him, and take him for a nice long walk. The next day, it takes much less tries before your dog sits to have his leash put on. By the end of the first week your dog is sitting automatically when you pick up his leash.
This takes practice and patience but trust me your dog will learn. Not only will your dog be learning how to sit for his food and the leash, but he will also be learning that you follow through. He is the only one missing out when he doesn’t listen and he is learning how to control himself even when he is excited. Dogs that can’t control themselves struggle to be well mannered family dogs, which means they get left out of family walks, outings and get put in the other room when guests come over. By using learn to earn you will be helping your dog live a fuller life.
Enforce the new rules, but keep in mind that he’s only doing what he’s been taught to do and he’s going to need some time to get the hang of it all. The more he practices this new mindset the more biddable your dog will be.
Here are some of our favorite training treats: Training Treats
Photo is of Zambi, a student whose dog did dog training with me. Cane Corso hiking in the Colorado Rockies. Would you like to teach your dog to come just like Zambi? Check out this dog training article Games for Training Come
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