1. He’s a dog, not a human. It’s their “doggyness,” not what we think of as their similarity to humans, that makes them so lovable. Dogs don’t think like humans. They do not plot acts of revenge; they are just trying to do what makes them feel happy or safe.
2. Dogs do the things that we reinforce. Those behaviors you don’t like? We usually have ourselves to thank. Owners inadvertently reinforce all kinds of undesirable things, from excessive barking at the doorbell to counter surfing. Keep leaving food within reach on the counter, and your dog will learn that it’s worth his while to check.
3. Learn to be quick with treats and praise. If the treat comes more than a few seconds after your pup has done what you’ve asked, he has no idea what he did to earn it, or you may inadvertently reward the wrong behavior. He’s happy to take it, but you failed to reward what you were teaching.
4. Always be happy when your dog comes to you, whether you called him or not. A common owner complaint is that the dog does not come when called. Never punish your dog when he comes to you, no matter what he did before. Call him in a happy, playful tone and reward big when he gets to you, with treats, a toy, or praise.
5. Keep a positive attitude. If you are getting upset, your dog knows it!
6. Provide the right amount of exercise and mental stimulation. Bored dogs get into trouble. For young puppies, mental stimulation is just as tiring as physical exercise and is safer for their growing bodies.
1. Understand that a puppy is an infant dog – not a miniature adult. Adjust your expectations accordingly, considering his physical and mental limitations. Before you know it, he will be grown up!
2. Puppy-proof your house with baby gates, a crate, and/or a pen. Any time the puppy is not directly supervised, he should be in a safe place where he can’t get into trouble. Provide appropriate safe toys for him to chew. Nobody would think of giving a human toddler total freedom in a home, and puppies need the same careful supervision. Eliminating opportunities for accidents and destructive behavior will get you through the puppy phase with most of your stuff intact! This helps make sure that bad habits never get a chance to take hold.
3. Dogs are not born understanding English. The new puppy you brought home two days ago has no idea what the word “no” means. Instead of expecting him to drop whatever it is he’s doing, show him what you want him to do instead.
4. Learn about dog body language. Your dog may not be able to talk, but he can tell you how he feels. This is a good place to start learning what he’s saying: http://www.akc.org/content/entertainment/articles/how-to-read-dog-body-language/
5. Train with high-value treats. You will be amazed at how much harder your dog will work for a tiny piece of chicken breast, cheese, or liver, compared to even premium store-bought treats. Those may work in distraction-free settings, but when the job gets more difficult, you need to bring out the good stuff. Training treats should be soft, so you don’t have to wait for Rover to chew before continuing the lesson.
6. Catch your dog being good. It’s easy to get caught up in scolding when your puppy is getting into trouble, but rewarding him out of the blue for being good lets him know he’s doing the right thing.
1. Give your dog plenty of daily exercise and stimulation.
One or two short walks per day is simply not enough for most dogs, especially not for any of the working breeds, such as herders and retrievers. An under-exercised, bored dog is an unhealthy, unhappy dog. A great many destructive and aggressive behaviors stem from a lack of exercise and stimulation.
2. Be consistent.
This is one of those common-sense pieces of wisdom that just about everyone knows but not quite so many of us practice. When you’re working with your dog, it’s crucial to be consistent- both in praise and in discipline. Praise good behavior and/or correct bad behavior the same way EVERY time.
3. Don’t do anything with, for, or to your dog until he is calm and relaxed.
That goes for everything from clipping on his leash, to putting his food down in front of him, to giving him the go-ahead to jump into the car. When you engage with him while he’s in an excited or nervous state, you’re simply rewarding and reinforcing that energy.From a training standpoint, nothing productive happens until your dog is calm and relaxed.
4. Don’t Allow your dog to sleep in your bed with you.
This is a tough one for a lot of us, since pets are family. However, letting your dog sleep in your bed gives him mixed messages about his role in your world. Allow him to sleep with you and he will see you as his equal, not as his boss. Once that happens, he will see no reason to respect and obey you. If you’re still dead set on allowing your dogs on the furniture and in the bed, make it by invitation only. Let him know he is welcome, but only when invited.
5. Don’t Allow your dog to pull ahead of you on the leash.
When you allow him to lead, in his mind, he’s running the show (and that attitude can translate to the rest of your interactions with him). When you walk your dog on his leash, he should be either even with, or slightly behind you. When it comes to training your canine best friend, hard work, consistency, and patience will make all the difference.
Training is a great way to bond with your dog, and with the right attitude, you can both have fun with the process!
Why Should You Train Your Dog?
A) So it’ll listen when you tell him to do something
B) So you can take it wherever you go
C) So you can show off all kinds of neat tricks to your friends
D) So you can enter fun competitions and maybe even win
E) ALL OF THE ABOVE
Training is essential to having a good relationship with your dog. It’s not just about tricks and showing off: it’s about communicating with your pet so both of you are happier.
Sadly, many pets are relinquished every year for behavior problems. These problems can usually be fixed if people would take some time to train their dog. Remember, dogs don’t know how you want them to act, you have to teach them!
Training is an important part of any dog’s life, and is important for several reasons. It provides mental stimulation which helps to keep your dog happy, and if combined with morning exercise your dog will be mentally and physically tired at the end and far more likely to sleep during the day.
Reward-based training is enjoyable for the dog and positively enhances the relationship between the dog and handler. This approach revolves around positive reinforcement – i.e. rewarding behavior that we like. Rewards may be in the form of a tasty food treat or verbal praise such as “good dog!” in a pleasant tone of voice, to be given when the dog performs the ‘good’ behavior.
Reward-based training also involves generally ignoring any ‘unwanted’ behaviors. In this way, the dog is not rewarded for any unwanted behavior. If dogs are not rewarded (i.e. receives no attention or treats) for a certain behavior, then they tend to stop doing it. For example if a dog is jumping up to greet people they should be ignored if they jump up and only receive attention (including eye contact) when they have four paws on the ground. Only when they are standing or sitting should they be rewarded with attention and treats.
Sometimes if owners react to ‘unwanted’ behavior by yelling or getting angry they may inadvertently reinforce the behavior – dogs perceive this as attention and the ‘unwanted’ behavior is simply reinforced. For some dogs, any form of attention/reaction from the owner is better than no reaction at all. For example, if an owner shouts at a dog who is barking excessively, the dog may interpret this as getting attention and thus the barking continues whereas it is more effective to try to ignore this behavior.
Aversion therapy or physical punishment should not be used in training programs. Punishing a dog for ‘unwanted’ behavior can actually exacerbate the problem.
We highly recommend booking your puppy into puppy school classes, which are an important way of socializing your puppy with other dogs. Your puppy can then use this practice and learning when they meet other dogs at the park or on walks as they grow into adult dogs. Puppies have a ‘critical socialization period’ from about 3-17 weeks of age. This is the time when they need to socialize with other dogs in order to learn social cues and how to communicate well with other dogs.
For dogs that are no longer in the puppy stage, The Animal Den offers training classes.
HAVE REALISTIC EXPECTATIONS
Changing behavior takes time. You need to have realistic expectations about changing your dog’s behavior as well as how long it will take to change behaviors that you don’t like. Often behaviors which are “normal” doggie behaviors will take the most time such as barking, digging and jumping. You also need to consider how long your dog has rehearsed the behavior. For example, if you didn’t mind that your dog jumped up on people to say hi for the last seven years and now you decide that you don’t want him to do that anymore, that behavior will take a much longer time to undo than if you had addressed it when he was a pup. Remember it’s never too late to change the behavior some will just take longer than others.
DON’T UNDERESTIMATE THE BENEFITS OF FEEDING A HIGH QUALITY FOOD
Feed your dog a high-quality diet with appropriate amounts of protein. If your dog spends most of his days lounging in your condo, don’t feed him food with a protein level that is ideal for dogs who herd sheep all day. The money that you will spend on feeding an appropriate quality food will often be money that you save in vet bills later on. I recommend you always check with your veterinarian for the right diet for your dog.
YOU GET WHAT YOU REINFORCE – NOT NECESSARILY WHAT YOU WANT
If your dog exhibits a behavior you don’t like, there is a strong likelihood that it’s something that has been reinforced before. A great example is when your dog brings you a toy and barks to entice you to throw it. You throw the toy. Your dog has just learned that barking gets you to do what he wants. You say “no,” and he barks even more. Heaven forbid you give in and throw the toy now! Why? Because you will have taught him persistence pays off. Before you know it you’ll have a dog that barks and barks every time he wants something. The solution? Ignore his barking or ask him to do something for you (like “sit”) before you throw his toy.
BRIBERY VS. REWARD
The idea of using treats to train is often equated with bribery. Truthfully, dogs do what works. If using treats gets them to do what you want, then why not? You can also use the world around you as a reinforcement. Every interaction you have with your dog is a learning opportunity, so when you think about it, you probably don’t use food very often except during active training sessions. So why does your dog continue to hang out? Because you reinforce him with praise, touch, games and walks. Just remember, the behavior should produce the treat; the treat should not produce the behavior.
Let your new dog gradually earn freedom throughout your home. A common error that many pet parents make is giving their new dog too much freedom too soon. This can easily lead to accidents relating to housetraining and destructive chewing. So, close off doors to unoccupied rooms and use baby gates to section off parts of the house, if necessary. One of the best ways to minimize incidents is to keep your dog tethered to you in the house and by using a crate or doggie safe area when you can’t actively supervise him.
LISTEN TO YOUR DOG
Learn to listen to your dog. If your dog appears to be uncomfortable meeting another dog, animal or person, don’t insist that he say hello. He’s telling you that he isn’t comfortable for a reason, and you should respect that. Forcing the issue can often result in bigger problems down the line.
BE GENEROUS WITH YOUR AFFECTION
Most people don’t have a problem being very clear about when they are unhappy with their dogs, but, they often ignore the good stuff. Big mistake! Make sure you give your dog lots of attention when he’s doing the right thing. Let him know when he’s been a good boy. That’s the time to be extra generous with your attention and praise. It’s even okay to be a little over the top.
DOES HE REALLY LIKE IT?
Just because the bag says “a treat all dogs love” doesn’t mean your dog will automatically love it. Some dogs are very selective about what they like to eat. Soft and chewy treats are usually more exciting for your dog than hard and crunchy treats. Keep your eyes open for what he enjoys.
TELL HIM WHAT YOU WANT HIM TO DO
There is nothing inherently wrong with telling your dog “no,” except that it doesn’t give him enough information. Instead of telling your dog “no,” tell him what you want him to do. Dogs don’t generalize well, so if your dog jumps up on someone to say hello and you say no, he may jump higher or he may jump to the left side instead of the right. A better alternative would be to ask him to “sit.” Tell him what you want him to do in order to avoid confusion.
Whenever you’re training your dog, it’s important to get as many family members involved as possible so everyone’s on the same page. If you are telling your dog “off” when he jumps on the couch and someone else is saying “down,” while someone else is letting him hang out up there, how on earth is he ever going to learn what you want? Consistency will be the key to your success.
This can help keep your dog safe when his curiosity gets the better of him, like if he smells something intriguing but possibly dangerous on the ground! The goal is to teach your pup that he gets something even better for ignoring the other item.
Place a treat in both hands.
Show him one enclosed fist with the treat inside, and say, “Leave it.”
Let him lick, sniff, mouth, paw, and bark to try to get it — and ignore the behaviors.
Once he stops trying, give him the treat from the other hand.
Repeat until your dog moves away from that first fist when you say, “Leave it.”
Next, only give your dog the treat when he moves away from that first fist and also looks up at you.
Once your dog consistently moves away from the first treat and gives you eye contact when you say the command, you’re ready to take it up a notch. For this, use two different treats — one that’s just all right and one that’s a particularly good smelling and tasty favorite for your pup.
Say “Leave it,” place the less attractive treat on the floor, and cover it with your hand.
Wait until your dog ignores that treat and looks at you. Then remove that treat from the floor, give him the better treat and share affection immediately.
Once he’s got it, place the less tasty treat on the floor… but don’t completely cover it with your hand. Instead hold it a little bit above the treat. Over time, gradually move your hand farther and farther away until your hand is about 6 inches above.
Now he’s ready to practice with you standing up! Follow the same steps, but if he tries to snatch the less tasty treat, cover it with your foot.
Don’t rush the process. Remember, you’re asking a lot of your dog. If you take it up a notch and he’s really struggling, go back to the previous stage.
Before attempting this one, make sure your dog is an expert at the “Sit” command.
First, ask your dog to “Sit.”
Then open the palm of your hand in front of you, and say “Stay.”
Take a few steps back. Reward him with a treat and affection if he stays.
Gradually increase the number of steps you take before giving the treat.
Always reward your pup for staying put — even if it’s just for a few seconds.
This is an exercise in self-control for your dog, so don’t be discouraged if it takes a while to master, particularly for puppies and high-energy dogs. After all, they want to be on the move and not just sitting there waiting.
This can be one of the more difficult commands in dog obedience training. Why? Because the position is a submissive posture. You can help by keeping training positive and relaxed, particularly with fearful or anxious dogs.
Find a particularly good smelling treat, and hold it in your closed fist.
Hold your hand up to your dog’s snout. When he sniffs it, move your hand to the floor, so he follows.
Then slide your hand along the ground in front of him to encourage his body to follow his head.
Once he’s in the down position, say “Down,” give him the treat, and share affection.
Repeat it every day. If your dog tries to sit up or lunges toward your hand, say “No” and take your hand away. Don’t push him into a down position, and encourage every step your dog takes toward the right position. After all, he’s working hard to figure it out!
This command can help keep a dog out of trouble, bringing him back to you if you lose grip on the leash or accidentally leave the front door open.
Put a leash and collar on your dog.
Go down to his level and say, “Come,” while gently pulling on the leash.
When he gets to you, reward him with affection and a treat.
Once he’s mastered it with the leash, remove it — and practice the command in a safe, enclosed area.