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Dog Training(How to do it)

Updated on October 8, 2014

While dog behavior management and dog training are two different things

While dog behavior management and dog training are two different things, they are not mutually exclusive. Behavior management is an important part of any dog training program .

Dog behavior management differs from dog training in that the dog is not learning anything. Instead, we are controlling things in the dog's environment to prevent certain behaviors. For example, we may never train a dog to overcome a fear of thunder . We can, however, do certain things to manage the dog's fear, such as administering a sedative or providing a safe place for your dog to hide during thunderstorms. You're not training a dog to behave a certain way, but rather managing the dog's reaction to the thunder.

Dogs are instinctively clean animals

Dogs are instinctively clean animals. If they can avoid it, they would rather not soil themselves or their usual eating and sleeping areas. Dogs also naturally develop habits of where they would like to eliminate. For example, dogs that have a habit of eliminating on grass or dirt would rather not eliminate on concrete or gravel. You can use these natural tendencies for rapid and successful house training. All dogs are not the same, so we vary our approach based on each dog's personality and temperament and what will work for that dog. We also vary the dog behavior training to suit the family's specific needs and lifestyle, the dog's environment and what YOU do or don't want from your dog.

Since dogs can learn at all ages and stages of life

Since dogs can learn at all ages and stages of life, it is always worthwhile to form new habits, teach new things and improve your relationship. Often all it takes is a bit of motivation for your dog to want to perform and behave for you, and then you have a dog that is happy to offer behaviors that you appreciate. We have the understanding and expertise to figure out what makes your dog tick.

REALITY: Dogs are not wolves and there are many significant differences between dog and wolf behavior such that wolf behavior is completely irrelevant to how we live and interact with our dogs. Moreover, when wolf behavior is mentioned as a model for dog training, the understanding of wolf behavior used is often incorrect and based on studies that have long since been disproven by research scientists who study wolves extensively. Read Dominance Myths and Dog Training Realities for a more detailed discussion of this myth.

Chasing our dogs

Chasing our dogs as they do wild zoomies around the yard can be a very fun game to play - everyone loves it! Unfortunately, engaging in this game can negatively affect recall (coming when called), retrieve (instead of the dog coming to you with an object, he's getting really good at avoiding you), sharing (it can be much harder to get an object away from a dog who loves to practice avoidance and avoidance can turn into dangerous guarding behavior). Instead, reward your dog for coming TO you, even when he has something he shouldn't have.

There are lots of ways to train dogs and it never ceases to amaze me how tolerant dogs are of our attempts to train them. However, if we are going to build our relationship with our dogs and feel good about the way we train them, our methods must be humane. Positive reinforcement training is the method that makes sense for me. It works, it is simple, and dogs enjoy it.

Changing behavior takes time

Changing behavior takes time. You need to have realistic expectations about changing your dog's behavior as well as how long it will take to change behaviors that you don't like. Often behaviors which are "normal" doggie behaviors will take the most time such as barking, digging and jumping. You also need to consider how long your dog has rehearsed the behavior. For example, if you didn't mind that your dog jumped up on people to say hi for the last seven years and now you decide that you don't want him to do that anymore, that behavior will take a much longer time to undo than if you had addressed it when he was a pup. Remember it's never too late to change the behavior some will just take longer than others.

If your dog exhibits a behavior you don't like, there is a strong likelihood that it's something that has been reinforced before. A great example is when your dog brings you a toy and barks to entice you to throw it. You throw the toy. Your dog has just learned that barking gets you to do what he wants. You say "no," and he barks even more. Heaven forbid you give in and throw the toy now! Why? Because you will have taught him persistence pays off. Before you know it you'll have a dog that barks and barks every time he wants something. The solution? Ignore his barking or ask him to do something for you (like "sit") before you throw his toy. Even if your dog never displays aggressive behavior such as growling, snarling, or snapping, he can still manipulate you. He may be affectionate to the point of being "pushy," such as nudging your hand to be petted or "worming" his way onto the furniture to be close to you. This technique gently reminds the dog that he must abide by your rules.

Obedience training

Obedience training is training the dog to obey certain commands such as sit, stay, come and teaching it to heel. Training sessions should be frequent but short to prevent your dog from becoming bored; ten to fifteen minute sessions, two or three times a day will be sufficient.

Genuine obedience training is more than just a series of tricks; it's a way of life. You should be able to hang out with your dog without the dog getting into trouble or being annoying. For that to happen, you need to develop a trusting, respectful relationship with your dog.

Let your new dog gradually earn freedom throughout your home

Let your new dog gradually earn freedom throughout your home. A common error that many pet parents make is giving their new dog too much freedom too soon. This can easily lead to accidents relating to housetraining and destructive chewing. So, close off doors to unoccupied rooms and use baby gates to section off parts of the house, if necessary. One of the best ways to minimize incidents is to keep your dog tethered to you in the house and by using a crate or doggie safe area when you can't actively supervise him.

There are no guarantees in dog training. How well your dog learns and how much he improves will depend on many factors including his level of socialization, genetic predisposition, and how much time you work with your dog. However, I will set up a training plan, tailor it to you and your dog, and help you with it to meet your goals.

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