Dog Training: Tips on Working with Your Dog

March 25, 2019
As a dog owner with over 25 years of experience, I can attest that having a dog is one of the most wonderful things that has ever happened in my life. The companionship and joy they bring is incomparable.

Without the proper training and instruction, puppies can grow into ill-behaved dogs. Behaviors need to be modified, eliminated and instilled in order to create a companion who is a pleasure to live with (versus a curse) as most dogs live a decade or longer.

  • Dogs seek a strong pack leader. That needs to be you. You are the leader, not the dog!
  • Make it clear that certain behaviors, such as chewing on everything in its path or using your carpet as its bathroom or incessantly barking, are not acceptable and will not be tolerated. Discourage these with a strong, firm voice, hand clapping or by withholding attention or affection. Even better if you can discourage the negative behaviors at the first sign of the dog engaging in the behavior. For example, walking over to the shoes in order to chew, sniffing for a place to urinate, etc.
  • Reward positive behaviors, such as going to the bathroom outside, sitting and staying, letting go of specific items, with treats and with verbal praise. At first use snacks as dogs respond favorably with treats. But this cannot be your only method of reward. First, the dog will come to expect the treat and second, there may come a time when you do not have a snack handy.
  • Reinforce training on a regular basis. Every moment with a pet can be a teaching moment. Pat and praise good behaviors, even ones you did not command the dog to do.
  • Be consistent. Every time a negative action or behavior occurs, repeat the training.
  • Use verbal and action cues. Certain words and hand gestures can be linked. If your dog cannot hear you but can still see you he or she will have a second reference cue.
  • Again, you are the boss!
  • Over time, teach others how to interact with your dog. This is helpful for family members, friends, house guests and other visitors who are around your pet.
  • Decide which commands and behaviors are most important to you. Tricks may be nice but are of no use if your dog will not sit, stay, refrain from jumping or eating everything in sight.
  • Useful commands and behaviors include: come, down, heel, leave it, loose-leash walking, off, settle, sit, stand, stay and wait.
  • If you are unsure where to begin, ask your veterinarian, an associate at your local pet store, friends and family members who have well-behaved dogs or contact your local shelter or human society or check out books from the library.

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