It’s National Train Your Dog Month. So, whether you’ve got a new puppy that needs to be housebroken, a dog that you want to learn a new trick, or there are some obedience and behavior issues you need to correct in your canine pal, you need to do some training. And while a professional can help with serious issues, most times it just takes patience and persistence to get your dog to do what you want. Remember, your pooch is eager to please you.
Here are basic tips for training your dog:
Consistency is key: Use the same rules and the same words (in the same tone of voice) all the time. It’s also important to get as all household members on board, For example: If you’re telling your dog “off” when he jumps on the couch and someone else is saying “down,” while someone else is letting him hang out on the couch, your dog will be confused and not know what is expected of them.
Be concise and specific: Give your commands just once. Repetition teaches your dog to ignore them because it sounds like you don’t care if he obeys or not.There’s nothing wrong with telling your dog no, but it doesn’t really give them enough information. Instead, tell your dog what you want them to do. If you dog jumps up on someone to say hello and you say no, they may jump higher or on the left side instead of the right. A better alternative would be to ask your dog to sit. By telling your dog what you want them to do, you avoid confusion.
Give praise and rewards: Reward your dog for being right. Give them a treat and lots of verbal praise. The idea of using treats to train is often equated with bribery. Just remember, the behavior should produce the treat; the treat should not produce the behavior.
Have realistic expectations: Changing behavior takes time. Consider how long your dog has exhibited that behavior. For example: if you didn’t mind that your dog jumped up on people to greet them for the last three years and now you decide that you don’t want your dog to do that anymore, that behavior will take a much longer time to undo. But it’s never too late to change a behavior, some will just take longer than others.
Look at your own behavior: If your dog exhibits a behavior you don’t like, there is a good chance it’s something that has been reinforced by you - maybe unconsciously. For example: If your dog brings you a toy and barks to get you to throw it and you throw the toy, your dog thinks that barking gets you to do what they want. If you say no, he may bark even more. You may give in and throw the toy. Your dog has just learned that persistent barking gets them what they want. The solution would be to ignore the barking or ask them to do something like sit before you throw the toy. Then the dog learns that sitting gets you to throw the toy - not barking.