These blogs are going to address training your
dog from a variety of tricks to “good manners”.
Today most trainers work with the concept of positive training, rather than punishment. Why not punish? To train your dog it is to your advantage to have an understanding of how dogs view the world, so I will be talking about that as we go along.
Let’s start with the most common training challenge most of us face when we bring a dog into lives….. house training and punishment. The old thoughts used to be we would find “a mess” on the floor when we came home. We would drag the dog over to it,and scold him (perhaps even pushing his nose into it). That really gets the message across, doesn’t it? After all, the dog looks guilty. Wrong!
Dogs live in the present; they don’t look to the future, and while they may have emotions such as happiness and sadness, they do not “feel guilt”as do. Sure he looks remorseful, but he is not. He is mostly showing submission and perhaps confusion. He does not have the ability to think, “wow I shouldn’t have done that”. Instead he is just plain confused. After all, he is so happy you came home, and now he is being yelled at. This just doesn’t work.
One of the things we never want our dog to learn is to fear us, or distrust us. So what is a better way to handle the the situation? I will be reviewing house training tips, but the first thing you want to do is to not set the dog up to fail. If, for instance, he is chewing on shoes , then we must 1) provide appropriate chew products 2) not leave the shoes where the dog can reach them,
When training your dog with positive you will be offering a delicious treat and lots of praise when he does an appropriate action, so he is motivated to repeat the behavior. Over time you can offer the treat less often, and continue with the praise (as if you don’t always have treats in your pocket!). What happens when he does a behavior you don’t want? Just ignore him…..turn your back on him until he stops the behavior that is inappropriate…I also recommend crossing your arms in front of your chest so he doesn’t push his head under your hand. When the behavior stops he gets your attention back.
One of the best quotes have ever seen was, “Dogs are keen observers of human behavior”. This is so very true, so laughing at your dog that is begging at the table reinforces the begging…just as yelling at him to “shut up” when he barks is simply reinforcing the noise.
So, that being said, here are some general training tips:
1. Everyone who lives with your dog should be involved in the training. Children should also be a part of the team whenever possible, but be sure they are supervised by a responsible adult.
2. You don’t have to, or want to, spend hours training your pet. One, they have a short attention span, and most of us a short on time, so incorporate training into daily activities. Try to keep training time to 10 minute intervals 3 times a day. Always end the training on a positive note.
4. Start training in a quiet room, that is free of distractions. This helps the dog to focus on you. You can add distractions as he becomes more comfortable with each skill.
5. Don’t always do training in the same area….you dog needs to learn that a command is the same command regardless of where he is..you don’t want him to associate the behavior with a particular area, so inside, outside, different rooms..shake it up a bit! You may find that when you initially change a location or add a distraction that the dog is set back a bit..just be patient.