Dog Training Basics


Dog Training Basics

Genetics & Instincts

If you treat your dog like a human, he will treat you like a dog.

Dog training basics fact: Dogs are predatory pack animals. Therefore, ALL dogs bite, so they must be taught not to bite. Because of their predatory and pack nature, dogs exhibit behaviors to challenge pack structure. This is their way of establishing an alpha leader within their pack.

Dogs constantly challenge pack structure to eliminate weak dogs through natural selection. This behavior ensures that only genetically strong dogs can breed. Challenging pack structure is a way for dogs to ensure that their offspring will survive. Because of dogs’ natural inclination to challenge pack structure, dogs must be socialized and “mannerized” to fit into human society.

As responsible pet owners, dog training basics include conditioning our dogs to respect our pack leadership. Dogs respect authority. As a responsible dog owner, you can learn how to establish this authority, and dog training can help. The Cali K9® dog trainers can help you become the alpha pack leader in your home. Need help? Let's take care of it!


Because dogs instinctively bite and challenge pack structure, having an untrained dog is a liability. A dog has natural instincts. You can take a dog out of the pack, but you can never take the pack out of a dog.

It has to be the worst feeling in the world when your untrained dog bites a small child. It's bad enough when your dog destroys your property or exhibits undesirable behaviors. There has been an exponential increase in dominant dogs and dog bite cases in the past decade because growing numbers of pet owners have a lack of understanding of balanced dog training.

Today, too many pet owners think that purely positive reinforcement dog training is the answer. The truth is, a balance between motivation and correction yields the ultimate results in your canine’s behavior.


Temperament refers to a dog’s general demeanor. In general, it is easier to predict a pure bred dog’s temperament than a mixed breed’s. During discussions of temperament, three terms are frequently mentioned:

Dominant Temperament–Certain dog breeds are more dominant and more likely to challenge pack structure. Dominant breeds are more difficult to train because of their naturally confrontational nature.

Balanced Temperament– Balanced breeds don’t covet the job of leader of the pack as much as the dominant breeds do. If you step in and fill the role of leader, these dogs will allow you to do so. You’ll only find trouble if you don’t take on the role of leader. The leader disciplines the pack members and keeps them in line. Unless dogs are socialized to recognize that you're the pack leader, these breeds may exhibit bad behaviors.

Submissive Temperament–These breeds have absolutely no desire to be the leader. They’ll readily accept anyone and everyone as holding a position higher than theirs in the pack. These dogs are best for families with small children and people who have never owned a dog. They aren't good watchdogs and protectors and need an owner who's as gentle as they are.

However, do not mistake timidity with submissiveness! A shy puppy that runs and hides is not submissive, he is timid. Submissively-tempered dogs may bite out of fear and defensiveness. Fear biting is the most common type of dog bite scenario.

* Keep in mind, there are submissive members of dominant breeds and vice versa. A good breeder doesn’t produce submissive Akitas or dominant Shetland sheepdogs. There are even various levels of submissiveness and dominance within litters.

How Dogs Learn

Sense: Sight, sound, smell, touch and taste.

Pavlovian Theory “Classical Conditioning”: A process of behavior modification by which a subject comes to respond in a desired manner to a previously neutral stimulus that has been repeatedly presented along with an unconditioned stimulus that elicits the desired response.

Operant Conditioning: A process of behavior modification in which the likelihood of a specific behavior is increased or decreased through positive or negative reinforcement each time the behavior is exhibited, so that the subject comes to associate the pleasure or displeasure of the reinforcement with the behavior.

Rewards: Dogs must anticipate reward rather than correction because this will motivate them and keep them driven and confident.

Corrections: Dogs learn when we make corrections based on their infractions. A responsible owner does not correct their dog based on their own emotions. They correct the dog fairly, according to the severity of that dog’s undesired behavior.

Comfort: Dogs will go willingly from stress to comfort, but not from comfort to stress.

Confrontation: Pack leadership is not negotiated; it is established in dogs through confrontation.

Black and White: Dogs learn through clear signals. You must be very clear with your dog or puppy about your expectations, or he won't be able to distinguish between desired behavior and undesirable behavior.

Repetition: It takes 30-50 repetitions to teach your dog a learned behavior. It's unfair to correct a dog until he learns that new behavior. Dogs learn through enticement, not compulsion.

Consistency: Being consistent will program your dog with a regimen that's always the same.

Genetic Behavior

1. Food - Desire to eat

2. Sex - Desire to reproduce

3. Prey - Desire to chase

4. Defense - The ability to defend itself

5. Fight – The ability to fight an adversary

6. Flight/avoidance - The ability to run away

Learned Behavior

1. Respect for pack structure instilled by the puppies’ mother

2. Commands

3. Behavioral boundaries

4. Socialization with humans and other pets

5. Manners

Steps of Teaching

1. SHOWING through enticement

2. PROOFING through distractions

3. SECURING through repetition

Phases of Learning

1. Learning Phase

2. Distraction Phase

3. Correction Phase

4. Maintenance Phase