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All resources I have read teach that you should only train your dog one command at a time. Does this mean that desensitizing the dog to feel better in certain situations and training him are mutually exclusive? Or can I train my new dog to sit and desensitize him to washing his paws or being around the other dogs at the same time? What about desensitizing to multiple things?
 

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There's no problem with desensitizing a dog while training a command (if training one command at a time is a rule, I've been breaking that one...a lot LOL). He won't get confused or forget one thing for another.
 

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Depends what you mean by "desensitize". If you feed the dog right before and after you wash his paws that's perfectly fine, you should definitely do it for a few weeks regardless of his other activities. Only limit you have is the amount of food you can use so you don't overfeed.

If you're socializing him with other dogs then that's a more demanding exercise and I'd have other training stuff separate. I'd first and foremost train my dog to ignore others and simply just look at me before I try obedience with other dogs around. If dog won't even look at me, I take a step back and stop all obedience work until I can have his full attention for at least 2 minutes (you can use "targeting exercise" for this). There's no point doing obedience if the dog isn't paying attention.
 

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All resources I have read teach that you should only train your dog one command at a time. Does this mean that desensitizing the dog to feel better in certain situations and training him are mutually exclusive? Or can I train my new dog to sit and desensitize him to washing his paws or being around the other dogs at the same time? What about desensitizing to multiple things?
I don't know what resources you are reading or listening to. Dump-em. There is no such rule.
 

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I don't know what resources you are reading or listening to. Dump-em. There is no such rule.
For me there is. I'd teach one thing at a time. I don't teach a down command until the dog knows what sit means and I definitely don't teach both at the same time. I don't try heel if I don't even have a solid sit yet. I don't bother with fetch until I have a good recall etc. Teaching all these things at the same time will set the dog up for failure - he'd sit when told down, stand when told sit, heel when told to come etc. there would be fails left and right. People end up thinking that the dog is stupid or stubborn.
 

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For me there is. I'd teach one thing at a time. I don't teach a down command until the dog knows what sit means and I definitely don't teach both at the same time. I don't try heel if I don't even have a solid sit yet. I don't bother with fetch until I have a good recall etc. Teaching all these things at the same time will set the dog up for failure - he'd sit when told down, stand when told sit, heel when told to come etc. there would be fails left and right. People end up thinking that the dog is stupid or stubborn.
That's fine because that is your choice/training style, I would fight for your right to train your way. That's a personal rule not a "everybody should/must do it this way rule" I would suggest the only rule is there are no rules aside from inhumane treatment.
 

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It's impossible to only train one thing at a time, unless you never give the dog a command outside of training sessions. If you've taught the dog to sit, and you move on to the down, but you ask the dog to sit at a door or to have his collar put on, you've trained the sit at the same time that you're training the down. The dog learns every time you ask him to do anything, as well as at many other times, so you could be training lots of basic manners at the same time that you're training a formal command.

Which means it's pointless to only train one thing at a time, and not natural. Dogs are always learning, whether you try to teach them something or not, which means they are capable of learning many things all at once.

For a young puppy I would probably start with only one behaviour/command (but even then you're still training general manners and housetraining at the same time) and once the puppy understands the concept of doing stuff in exchange for rewards you can introduce more than one behaviour at a time.

For my dogs I not only train more than one thing at a time, but I even swap between several new behaviours in the one training session. It's something they get used to, they just learn to expect the game to change a lot, and adapt accordingly.
 

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Teaching all these things at the same time will set the dog up for failure - he'd sit when told down, stand when told sit, heel when told to come etc. there would be fails left and right. People end up thinking that the dog is stupid or stubborn.
Only if the trainer not able to clearly state what behavior goes with what instruction.

If I'm teaching sit and down - he'll only down when I ask for a sit if I accept it. Otherwise, I'll put him back in his prior position and ask for it again. Same for the stand when told to sit. Why would the dog do that, and why would I let it happen? If I'm training properly, sending clear signals for what behavior goes with what cue/command, then the dog will not do this.

A trainer can work on sit, then start walking and when the dog is in position, c/t the heel position. Why would the dog get the two confused?

You can use fetch to GET a good recall. Half of the game is coming back to you after all. Otherwise, yeah, it wouldn't make sense to teach a game that requires coming back to you before he comes back to you. That's a different issue.

If YOU want to teach one thing at a time that's fine, though I agree it is just about impossible, like was said. You're always teaching whether its "formal" or not, and then throw in the variations of context - sitting at the door when calm is not the same thing as sitting outside when calm vs sitting outside when there's a squirrel 5 feet from him, etc. To YOU, it might just be asking for the same behavior with the same cue - to the dog, it's a new effort and a new exercise.

I'm not a master trainer by any means and have successfully taught multiple things to Wally and I hardly wait until he's learned one thing to introduce him to another. If I did that, we'd not go anywhere considering how I train him.

In fact, I've found that this exposure has helped him pick up new things and gives him more "ideas" to try during shaping and while trying to solve problems I present to him.
 

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It's impossible to only train one thing at a time, unless you never give the dog a command outside of training sessions. If you've taught the dog to sit, and you move on to the down, but you ask the dog to sit at a door or to have his collar put on, you've trained the sit at the same time that you're training the down. The dog learns every time you ask him to do anything, as well as at many other times, so you could be training lots of basic manners at the same time that you're training a formal command.
I know what you're saying but learning is one period, proofing is another, they are different IMO.

You can use fetch to GET a good recall.
I don't teach recall in a fetch game, I proof the recall. By "good recall" I meant a recall from short distance that won't fail during the fetch game. I teach the recall separate from the fetch.

Maybe the concept of teaching one thing at a time is just misunderstood here. Teaching phase is pretty sensitive and more elements you throw in more complex it gets and more difficult - why would you do this if you don't have to? As I said, when I teach downs the only command I may use is sit - I'm not going to interrupt the session and start teaching a new command all of sudden. Instead I’ll have one 10 minute session where I literally only do downs, only do sits, stands etc. and when dog becomes fluent in it I’ll mix it up. If I mix it up too soon, I set him up for failure. When I teach heel I don’t ask him to sit & down as soon as he makes 10 baby steps, I need him to heel for good 60 seconds with no fail before I try and tell him to lie down. When I teach a dog to bark, I may interrupt it with another command if he gets all too good at barking and doesn’t know to stop.

Again, when you proof the command, you can throw in a challenge. If you teach him something new, you should (IMO) make it as simple as possible. But that’s just me – I’m not saying this is some kind of golden rule, I frankly never even tried different, I train most of the stuff separate from one another – I may be wrong, it certainly would not be the first time.
 

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Ian Dunbar will regularly train 3 or 4 behaviors at the same time. (Sit, Down, Stand) People - like KBLover who teach a sequence of behaviors to get a complex chain are usually successful at increasing complex reactions.

See the two free downloads: http://www.dogstardaily.com/free-downloads

I think beginners have to go slowly to understand how their individual dog learns.... But, the dog is capable, genetically, of learning multiple things at the same time, if you know how to distinguish.
 

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If I mix it up too soon, I set him up for failure.
"Failure" can be used as a tool for speeding differentiation.

If I say sit, and he downs, he can learn that sit doesn't mean laying down. If my reward/no-reward signals are clear, he will differentiate, mastering both "sit" and "down" at one time. If I say down and he sits - same thing. He can learn what behavior goes with what sound. It's not "failure" (I hate that word, especially in regards to a process), it's "learning from mistakes".


When I teach heel I don’t ask him to sit & down as soon as he makes 10 baby steps, I need him to heel for good 60 seconds with no fail before I try and tell him to lie down. When I teach a dog to bark, I may interrupt it with another command if he gets all too good at barking and doesn’t know to stop.
Teaching heel for me was in context of the overall walk. Sometimes he is to stay near me, sometimes he has to follow instructions (like 'go potty') and sometimes he has to stop and sit (so-called "automatic sit"), and after, say, go potty, he is to return to me in either front or heel/finish position. If I'm teaching that all in one walk - how many things am I teaching? 1? 3? more?

If he got out of heel position, I would say "keep up" or "slow down" (new sounds he has to learn in addition to what our relative positions are terms of who's ahead of whom) would c/t when he reaches the right position (rewarding compliance and reinforcing what he did to the signal I gave was right, which was his only signal of what "heel position" was and he had to remember it and stay to get more c/t), my consistency in giving those signals helped him learn which means what (differentiation), and then I wrapped them up into "heel" which makes HIM figure out if he's too far ahead or behind.

All of that in the teaching phase - how many things? Some might say "1, you taught heel". I say it was six.

-Learning relative position (ahead of person)
-Learning relative position (behind person)
-Learning signal meaning of "keep up"
-Learning signal meaning of "slow down"
-Learning where heel position is
-Learning to understand how to return to heel from current relative position


That's why I don't think of "how many things" because, to me, "one thing" is still many, many smaller steps, stages and things. So the dog is always learning "multiple things".
 

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I am in the camp that trains multiple behaviors at the same time. With a new pup, I work on sits/stay/down/come/heel all at once. I keep it short and fun and haven't seen any confusion. To each their own.

When I had to go back to some agility foundation work, I taught wraps, rear crosses and front crosses all grouped too. For me, it seems to help the dog differentiate right from the beginning. It may slow down the learning on the component parts (maybe) but it introduces some amount of proofing right up front.

We all have different skills/approaches and all of our dogs are different too. I'm sure there's nothing wrong with either approach.
 
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