These Top Ten Training Tips can be used whether you are a new owner of a puppy or you want to enforce some new habits on your dog. Keep in mind, training a dog that has habits already instilled may take some extra time and effort- but for that mushy face, anything is worth it!
1.) Comfort Zones
Dogs are exactly like humans. If you haven’t noticed, they crave cuddles and attention just like we do! When you are in an uncomfortable situation, most likely you make an excuse to leave and high-tail it outta there! Dogs, unless they are roaming free, don’t have this option to decide for themselves. If they are on a walk with you and you approach a friendly neighbor with their dog, sometimes your’s won’t be as inclined to say hi. Observe your dog’s behavior. It is always noticeable if he or she isn’t happy in the situation, in which case protect your dog and their feelings. Stay a considerable distance away. If you don’t listen to your dog and watch how he or she responds, behavioral issues may arise. We don’t want a pup in distress, which leads to my next tip.
2.) Actions vs. Expectations
If you are here to teach your dog some discipline, it is most likely because of the way you have been executing situations in the past! For example, if your dog wants to play and consistently barks to get your attention, it’s because you have given into it before. Another example would be crates or gates. If you secure your pup in a crate or block him off in a room and he cries to come out, giving into his admittingly heart-breaking whines will only enforce that if he cries he will get his way! For instance, when you say “stop barking” hold out a treat. They will stop barking only due to the fact that they cannot sniff while doing so. Expand the amount of time you hold the treat out in front of him to the silence is learned to be key. To remind him who’s the boss… at least ask him to do something for you before you give in. This will reinforce he isn’t immediately getting what he wants, he has to obey a command first.
3.) Consistency is Key
If you want new commands to stick, you must be using the same words or gestures. Consistency is key here. Dogs are programmed to follow what they already know, so breaking a habit and learning a new one will take lots of repetition and patience. However, don’t repeat your command multiple times before he gets a chance to understand. Dogs are sensitive to our tone and actions. If you want to create a new bathroom schedule, make sure you are consistent with timing and ques. Also pay close attention to when he has to go to begin with. This will help both your dog and you. Continue to express your command in a clear, friendly tone. If you continue to shout commands at him he will be confused and less inclined to obey you.
4.) Step by Step Commands
Be clear and precise with your commands. When your dog is happy to see a visitor, unless he is already trained not to do so, a majority of the time he or she will jump all over your guest. Or for another example, laying on furniture even though you have told him multiple times not to do so. “No” is the most used command. However, dogs do not understand what “No” means half of the time. If they ignore you it is because they don’t understand what they are doing wrong. Dogs cannot understand what you specifically mean NOT to do. When your dog is jumping on your guest, saying no may mean he is doing it wrong, for instance higher, or in a certain direction. Instead of telling him no, tell him to lay down or sit. If he is laying on furniture, say “No, down”, then when on the floor, follow up with sit or lay down. This will help them learn what they are being disciplined for, and what you would specifically like them to do. Think of step by step directions- they are learning new commands after all, you are there to help them learn.
5.) Be Generous and Happy
Dogs look to their owners for guidance and direction. When you express your emotions and actions, they respond accordingly. When you are teaching them new tricks, be sure not to yell at them. Be friendly with a high pitched tone and show how happy you are when they finally obey you. Be generous with toys and entertainment. The more activities and toys they have to keep themselves busy, the less time they will spend destroying the garbage, eating shoes, and ruining other valuables. Most dogs behave in this way because they get bored when their owner is away. If they have everything they need to keep them happy, you will see a huge difference in their personality. They are truly furry children.
When a new puppy is being introduced to toys, or a dog has been occupying himself with shoes and other belongings of yours… it is important to spark interest in it. Tease them with it, ask them “Where is it?”, “Do you want it?”, “Where’s the toy”. The friendly happy tone with playful gestures obviously means it’s play time. They will eventually have their favorite toy and they will be extremely happy. Bones are also a good alternative because there is flavor as well as something for bigger dogs to chew on when their bored, instead of playing with a toy.
7.) Table Manners
When you’re eating dinner and your dog is roaming about the house, they know where the goods are, in fact their most likely by your feet watching you cook it. Begging is one of the most common problems with dogs, and as annoying as it is, I’m sure someone is slipping him some, which just reinforces sitting there and begging will get them what they want! You know you feed your dog regularly so there is no need to feel bad for them. They will always want anything that smells good to them. Ignoring them is your best policy. Another good idea would be to feed them when you eat dinner. That way he or she is occupied and when they come to beg, you know they have been fed and you can ignore them.
Dogs natural instinct is to be a pack leader. They want to please others and be a companion. You being the pack leader enforces that they will follow you and make sure you are also happy and taken care of. They want to please you. Expression and body language is everything to a dog. Don’t be afraid to lay down the law.
Rewards are to be used after the behavior is completed. Do not give them a treat for trying or not performing. This is then becomes bribery. They will then think if they don’t do something you will give it to them anyway. Behavior produces rewards.
Give your dog some new freedom if they have obeyed your commands. If you normally keep them gated, let them run around the house for a bit! The most common mistake is letting your dog roam free without any restrictions. This is what normally causes the bad habits. There are no rules to follow or obey, and they don’t know how to listen to a command._1
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