The following tips are intended to provide general information on taking possession of your newly adopted dog. This is not an exhaustive guide for the training, health and wellness of your dog. You are encouraged to become as well informed as possible in order to provide a loving and safe home for your dog. In addition to the tips provided here, you are encouraged to communicate with your veterinarian and certified trainers in your locale.
Having social problems with your dog?
SOCIALIZATION & COMMUNICATION ARE VITAL
Like humans, all dogs have different personalities, likes, dislikes and character flaws. It’s vitally important that you take responsibility for your dog’s welfare and for the well-being of those with whom your dog comes into contact by being aware of your dog’s feelings and paying close attention to how he communicates his emotions.
When walking your dog, be aware of his body language. If he appears to be uncomfortable meeting another person or animal, don’t force him to approach or interact with another being. Your dog is telling you that he isn’t comfortable for a reason, and you should respect his feelings. That said, many bad social problems result from people not socializing their dogs with others at an early age. In fact, many studies have shown that a socialized young dog has a better chance of becoming a well-balanced & less aggressive adult dog.
Exposing your dog to different people and pets via trips to the dog park and group walks around the neighborhood can be a great way to encourage socialization. Also, keeping your dog’s leash loose while on walks can result in a calm dog and promote good behavior.
What’s the most effective training method?
POSITIVE RE-INFORCEMENT IS A TRAINER’S SECRET WEAPON
While your instincts may tell you to reprimand your pet when he does something wrong, positive reinforcement is a significantly more successful way to achieve favorable results when training your dog!
After all, man’s best friend aims to please! So make sure that you give your dog lots of praise (and the occasional treat) to let him know when he’s being a good boy. Studies have shown that this kind of positive reinforcement can be the best tool for teaching right vs. wrong. And the more positive you are, the more responsive your dog will be, resulting in a much closer bond between you and your pet.
How do you eliminate confusion with commands?
TEACH ONE COMMAND AT A TIME
The best way to keep your dog from being confused is to teach him one command at a time. Also, don’t get into the habit of teaching your dog the same series of commands in the exact same order every time. This could form a bad habit, called “Patterning”, in which your dog only performs a series of commands in a given order, rather than understanding and following commands on an individual basis.
Example: If you train your dog to sit, then lie down, only in that order over and over again, he will likely sit and lie down as part of the single command “sit” rather than waiting for your instructions on the next command.
How do you deal with bad behavior?
HAVE REALISTIC EXPECTATIONS
A dog may be man’s best friend, but he’s still an animal with instincts that have been hard-wired into his breed’s DNA for centuries. Changing a dog’s behavioral issues can take time. So, be realistic about how long it will take to modify a dog’s behaviors and how complex a behavior you can expect your dog to change. Often, behaviors that are “normal” dog behaviors (like barking, digging and jumping) will take the most time to address. Also, the longer a dog has practiced a behavior, the longer it will likely take to correct. But, it’s never too late to work on bad behavior. Just be realistic with your expectations.
Also, be sure to follow through during the training of specific commands. After you’ve given your dog a command, if he doesn’t do what you ask him to do and you give up too quickly, you’re revealing to him that you have a breaking point. Letting your dog beat you during these little battles of willpower is a big mistake that can result in bad habits and behaviors. Once you win this command-training game a few times, your dog should naturally stop challenging you, realizing that you are better at the game than he is.
What if my training is not immediately working?
TRAINING TAKES A LIFETIME
Training isn’t a sprint; it’s a marathon. And just like humans, dogs learn at the speed of life. You and I didn’t learn to read and write overnight. It took us years to learn, practice and perfect this skill. The same is true for dogs. Their behavioral training is a two-step process.
The first step, training, will take as long as the dog needs to learn the specific skills & behaviors that are being taught. The second step, maintaining, takes a lifetime. Once you have successfully communicated a behavior to your dog, it’s not realistic to expect that he will now practice that behavior forever. Regular, repetitive training for the life of your dog is required in order to reinforce the positive behaviors that you’ve taught him. Failure to maintain your dog’s training will likely result in regression, wherein bad habits will likely return. So, to help ensure that your dog’s training lasts a lifetime, take a few minutes each day to do a maintenance lesson with your canine companion.
Both of these steps are vital to the training of your dog, even if your furry friend has been trained by a professional behaviorist.