General dog training tips
A dog with good house manners and a few basic obedience cues in place makes dog ownership easier and pleasurable. As a positive dog trainer, I don’t believe it is necessary to use “pain to train.” The use of positive reinforcement training not only works, but it makes training fun for you and your dog – and it’s a great way to maintain the bond you have.
In working with clients, I have found that these basic dog training tips can help address just about any behavior issue.
- Many behavioral issues are a result of poor socialization. Socialization involves exposing your dog to friendly people, dogs, and other animals, as well as new sights, sounds, scents and situations. Socialization should begin before pups leave the litter, is critical up to 4 months of age and should be continued throughout your dog's life.
- Acknowledge your dog's good behavior. All too often we ignore the good behavior and only pay attention to (and therefore accidentally reinforce) the bad behavior.
- Be consistent! Don't allow your dog to jump up on everybody, but then reprimand him for jumping up on your grandmother.
- Knowing a few basic obedience cues will make your life with your dog much more enjoyable. Helpful cues to teach your dog include come, sit, down, heel (loose leash walking), stay, leave it and watch me.
- Keep training sessions short and sweet (and fun!) Several one-minute training sessions are much more productive than one long twenty minute training session.
- Once your dog knows a few obedience cues, it's easy to practice them throughout the day by implementing a "no free lunch" program. Practice being a benevolent leader and ask your dog to work for things he wants. Have your dog sit or down before providing him with meals, treats, toys, petting, games, walks, car rides and playtime. You'll find your dog will start responding to you quicker! It's a win-win scenario - your dog gets what he wants and you get a dog that listens to you.
- When teaching your dog a new behavior, start in a quiet environment. Gradually add distractions to build confidence and concentration.
- Managing the environment is just as important as training to address behavior issues. For example, if your dog jumps up on the counter to try to grab some food, set him up for success by keeping your counters clear of temptation.
- Dogs need both mental stimulation and physical exercise - a tired dog is a good dog! A majority of behavior problems can be fixed by simply upping the amount of exercise your dog gets.
- There are many behaviors that dogs just do - dogs bark, dogs jump, dogs roll in smelly stuff, dogs dig, dogs chase and dogs sniff. These are not behaviors to be fixed, but behaviors to be managed.
- Know the characteristics of your breed. Be aware of instinctual behaviors your breed of dog was born with - herding dogs will nip, guarding dogs will protect, hunting dogs will chase.
- Dogs are a very social species and have an inborn need for close and regular interaction with their social group. Dogs do not do well being crated or left alone for excessive periods of time. Many behavior issues evolve due to dogs being bored and lonely.
- Remember that dogs are dogs, not little people in fur coats! All too often we anthropomorphize, which is the act of assigning human traits and motivations (unfairly) to our dogs.
Remember, your dog is always learning, whether you're involved or not.