Begin training immediately. Don’t wait - the dog won’t. Remember, every interaction you have with your dog teaches him something. He begins learning what you will accept or not accept as soon as you bring him home. Puppies come with clean slates - you can begin teaching him good things right away. Older dogs come with lots of unknowns. It may take awhile to retrain the older dog, but it’s not impossible.
Train your dog with kindness and praise. Lots and lots of praise. Keep the training happy, positive and consistent. Have a family meeting and decide what you will or won’t let your dog do as a member of the family. If mom doesn’t want the dog on the couch and the kids and dad don’t mind, reach a compromise and stick to it. Nothing will confuse a dog more that every member of the family letting him do something different. Everybody has to be in agreement with the house rules or you will have a very frustrated dog that may begin to have behavior problems.
Begin immediately to have the dog obey all the commands you teach him, every time you give the command. He must learn to listen to you and do what you say. If you tell him to sit and he doesn’t sit and you let him get away with it, obeying you becomes an option to him. This goes for all the basic obedience commands - come, sit, down, stay, heel, etc.
Always give one command and then gently enforce it. If you repeat commands the dog will tune you out, just like nagging. The dog will begin to learn that the first command doesn’t mean anything. Also, the dog will not learn what the command means. Think about it. "Sit" sounds much different than, "sit, sit, sit, sit." A one-word command equals one response from the dog. Remember not to combine commands. Don’t say, "sit down" when you mean sit. There are two commands in that phrase - "sit" and "down" - which one do you want?
Dogs have excellent hearing. There is no need to shout your commands. If your dog doesn’t respond to your command given in a normal, firm voice it just might be that he doesn’t really understand the command yet. Go back to basics and be sure he understands what you want him to do. Remember to PRAISE.
When you use your dog’s name, try to always be positive. His name should always be associated with good things. You dog should never be afraid to come to you when you use his name or call him. NEVER call your dog to you for anything unpleasant, like toenail clipping, giving medicine, baths (if he doesn’t like them) or anything that isn’t going to make the dog glad he came to you.
Whenever you praise or correct your dog, timing is very important. You must praise or correct the dog the instant the act happens that you are praising or correcting him for. For instance: You are teaching your dog to sit. You give the dog the sit command and gently put pressure on his rear to make him sit. He finally sits. Yeah! You begin to praise him just as he stands up. Oops! You just praised your dog for standing up. Not for the sitting. You have to be fast and accurate or you’ll be teaching the wrong behavior.
Finally, Never train your dog when you’re angry or grouchy. You will get nowhere and you will sour your dog against future training. Dogs don’t learn very well under stress. Neither do people. Keep training sessions happy, positive and upbeat. PATIENCE, PRACTICE, PERSISTENCE, PRAISE.
Do you have have training questions, behavior problems, tips or tricks that have helped you? Feel free to send me your questions or training ideas.
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