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Dog training discs and how to use them

One of the greatest challenges in dog training and solving behavioural problems is communicating to the dog exactly when it is behaving correctly and when it is not. Techniques such as clicker training are well-established methods for rewarding correct behaviour. But there are times when you need to be able to communicate to your dog when it is displaying incorrect or undesirable behaviour – so how do you do this without resorting to punishment and aversive measures?

This is where Dog Training Discs come in. They are a means of communicating to your dog, without punishment, whenever incorrect behaviour is being displayed.

What are dog training discs?

There is much more to the design of dog training discs than readily meets the eye. They are usually a set of saucer-shaped discs made of metal and small enough to fit in your pocket.

They are generally designed to give off a unique sound that no other object would make. They are also designed so that they only make a sound when you want them to i.e. they should not rattle in your pocket or when they are moved around.

How do they work?

Popular to contrary belief, dog training discs are not intended to startle your dog and hence distract them for an incorrect behaviour. Indeed the first time you use these, it is likely your dog will take no notice of them. The first and most important step in using training discs is introducing your dog to them.

What can they be used for?

Dog training discs can be used to tackle a number behaviour problems including aggressive behaviour, barking and jumping up. The makers of training discs always recommend that you restrict usage of the discs to that behaviour requiring the most urgent attention.

Introducing the discs

Training discs are used to associate the sound of the discs with the dog not getting an expected reward.

  • • Get a pot of yummy titbits that your dog likes.
    • Hold the fabric loop of the discs in your fingers, so that you can hold them silently, but so that if you relax your grip and shake your wrist, they make a sound.
    • Grab a few titbits in your other hand.
    • Put one titbit on the floor for your dog to eat. Do this 5 times, so that your dog is expecting to eat the titbit off the floor.
    • Now take a titbit in your hand and go as if you were going to put it in the floor as before. As your dog goes to eat the titbit, rattle the discs behind your back and quickly take the titbit away, so that the dog doesn’t get it.
    • Your dog will seem confused at this, so you need to repeat this several times, so that he can associate the rattling of the discs with the failure of getting the titbit.
    • After a few repetitions, you will notice the dog back away from the food when the discs rattle. This can be stressful for the dog and you may see signs of slight anxiety, such as ears down, displacement behaviours or lip licking.
    • Repeat this until you see your dog startled by the sound of the discs and does not attempt to eat the titbit. This usually takes only about 4-5 trials (depending how sensitive the dog is).
    • The dog may go to another family member to seek reassurance. They should highly praise this avoidance behaviour.

You can now use the discs to indicate to the dog that he will not be or to stop him from doing something wrong. Try to keep them out of the dog’s sight, when using the discs, so that it is only the sound he associates with the behaviour, otherwise he may become wise to them when he sees them.

Occasionally, the dog will ignore the discs; if this happens, then you will need to follow the procedure above again.

Hints and tips when using Dog Training Discs:

  • Consistency is key in any training technique as it is with dog training disks.
  • Only use the disks as a means of communicating an incorrect behaviour.
  • They must be used at the precise moment the incorrect behaviour is displayed.
  • Never use the discs as a missile to throw at your dog.
  • Take time to introduce the discs- guidance on this is usually included with your disc kit.
  • Dog Training Discs are less effective when you have two dogs in the house
  • Keep training sessions to 3-4 minutes but repeat regularly throughout the day
  • Restrict usage of the Discs to address that behaviour requiring the most urgent attention.