At Imanje HQ we take training our dogs very seriously. Without training, Ridgebacks are not shy in making their own fun and even the best trained ridgeback will find something to amuse them that might not quite amuse their humans!
However, it is imperative that you teach your ridgeback with love and understanding and a whole pocketful of treats (or toys - whatever floats their boat). Ridgebacks do not respond well to harsh handling or punishment and really, there is no need!
Having trained dogs for years "the old way", we have taught all our ridgebacks with positive reinforcement and in a force free manner.
I wholeheartedly believe that if your dog is not doing the task asked of it, then you have not asked the question correctly, or you are not paying a good enough wage - after all, do any of us go to work for free? We all need an incentive and some praise for a job well done and our dogs (whatever the breed) are no different.
I have been a fan of clicker training for some 20 years and more and trained a number of our animals to do things with a click and a treat - including my horse to come to the gate from the top of the field and to step back from the stable door when I entered.
All our dogs have gone to ringcraft classes to prepare them for the showring. I use the clicker to mark their free stack, their "stand" and "look" and their turns and also for positive association when it comes to strangers doing a 'hands on'. We also teach everyday tasks like sit, wait, come, down, leave, etc. with the clicker. (yes, showdogs can sit on cue)!
Loki, Sifa and Inca all went to puppy classes where the use of aversives was not the trainers way and although we did not take their "obedience" training further, they are all more than capable of being mannerly dogs in the home and outside.
Mika has gone a bit further with her training as she was a rather distracted puppy during puppy classes (her love of people always gets the better of her!). However, we are lucky enough to have not only a positive reinforcement trainer in our area, but one who also has ridgebacks therefore understands their breed characteristics and nuances.
Mika has since gone on to 'further education' and been awarded her Bronze and Silver Good Citizen Awards. We are taking some time out of "formal training" but will hopefully have the chance to complete her Gold in due course.
Inca also passed her Bronze award in 2014 without having attended formal classes.
We do a number of activities with the gang and you can see what they all get up to on the Imanje Activities pages.
Avril has a Diploma in Animal Behaviour, a Puppy Training Diploma, is a full member of the Pet Professional Guild, is a certified Fun Scent Games Instructor (DogNostics), Pet Dog Ambassador Trainer and a Scentwork UK Certified Trainer.
Avril is a dog trainer with Lothlorien Dog Services.
The extract below is taken from Lothlorien Dog Services blog...click on the title to be taken to the full article.
Why is it important that you use positive reinforcement (+R) when teaching your dog life skills? Firstly what does positive reinforcement mean?
It basically means adding a reinforcer (food) to make the likelihood of that behaviour happening again, for example your dog sits you give them a reward then when asked in the future that behaviour will be offered. This works for all manner of training and behaviour issues. Rewards don’t always have to be food either. Sometimes it’s a pet (if your dog likes that, access to toys, a good game of tug, or even for nervous dogs it can be removing what makes them stressed that is the reward.
Positive trainers will sometimes use a negative; this doesn’t mean that we punish the dog. We use what is called a negative punishment (-P). Which means the dogs behaviour makes something good go away so the behaviour decreases, for example dog jumps up to say hello you walk away removing your attention then jumping up decreases (be sure to make a fuss of them if they sit instead!!!). Or another good example is your dog pulls on the leash so you stop moving, wait until he offers you a loose leash and then reward and move on.
Food rewarding is essential as scientists have proven time and time again that this is the most effective and humane way to teach (notice how I didn’t say train!). Food is an essential item to your dog so it is a primary reinforcer; we will add a secondary reinforcer (clicker) so that you can mark behaviour the second the dog offers a good behaviour and then back it up with a tasty treat! This means the dog understands exactly what the reward was for and you can reduce the treats quickly so you are rewarding rather than bribing.
It’s also good to refrain from using verbal punishments like NO or AH AH. We need to teach your dog what we want him to do rather than what we don’t want him to do. If, however, down the line you want to introduce a no reward marker, then make it a word you won’t use that often in conversation and make it upbeat rather than intimidating. I find oops works great.
written by Claire Staines, Lothlorien Dog Services,
Dog Trainer and Behaviour Consultant; Pet Canine Trainer Accreditation (PCT-A); Institute of Modern Dog Training (IMDT), Full Member; Pet Professional Guild (PPG), Full Member and PPG, British Isles Steering Committee Member; Space Dogs, Accredited Trainer; Victoria Stillwell Pet Dog Trainer, Ridgeback Owner!