Training a new puppy, or even an older dog, may be the most exasperating thing you’ve ever done, but the payoff is huge. Properly trained, your dog will be safer, more lovable, and able to handle visits from friends, and your home will be intact! So, here are our top ten training tips to make your and your dog’s lives more enjoyable! (Incidentally, these tips work equally well with your children, but we can’t vouch for how they will work on your spouse.)
10. When your dog is doing something wrong, try to interrupt the bad behavior or redirect him to something good. If he is heading towards your favorite slippers, distract him with a chew toy.
9. Establish yourself as the alpha dog in the pack every day! The sooner your dog learns you are the one who is in charge, the better. If you don’t establish your dominance, the dog will assume he is the top dog and will act accordingly.
8. Teach your dog that nothing in life comes free. If he wants a treat, playtime with you, a walk, or even his regular meals, he must do something to earn them. Even if you only make him sit while you put the dish down or while you clip his leash on, he must know that he has to behave before he will get what he wants.
7. Give your dog lots and lots of attention when he does something right. Dogs crave attention almost as much as they do food, and they will do nearly anything to get it from you. Establish from the very beginning that the way to earn attention is to do whatever you ask them to do.
6. Use very small bits of treat-type foods to get your dog’s attention. For example, hold the treat above and slightly behind the dog’s head to get him to sit. Hold it near the ground in front of him to get him to lie down. When the dog performs as he is directed to, reward the behavior immediately with the treat. Don’t overdo or you will get your dog too fat. And watch what you feed them – remember grapes and raisins are toxic!
5. Be repetitive. Some experts suggest that even people need to hear something at least seven times before they will remember it. I’m guessing that in dogs, the number is higher.
4. Keep your training sessions short. Like children, dogs have very short attention spans. Work for only 5 – 10 minutes at a time, then let the dog play for awhile. Try again after a few hours. If you can, do four or five short training sessions each day with a puppy, then drop back to one or two sessions as the dog gets older.
3. Plan on making this an on-going project. Even if you have a top-of-the-class graduate from obedience classes, if you never allow the dog to practice his skills, he won’t remember them. Give him a short refresher before each play session. This allows him to “earn” the play time, and he will be happy to show off his knowledge if he knows he gets to play Frisbee afterwards!
2. Be consistent! Your dog must know that he has to sit every time you tell him to, or he will soon feel he doesn’t have to do it at all. Just as if he were in the military, he doesn’t get to choose when to obey orders and when to ignore them.
1. Stay positive. Not all dogs are Einsteins, but they are all capable of learning the basic commands. Keep at it, and remember how much they love praise, and soon you will have a star!
Until next time,
Good day, and good dog!