1) Start training your puppy early on. While old dogs can be
taught new tricks, what's learned earliest, is often learned quickest and
easiest. Moreover, the older the dog, the more bad habits will likely need to
be "un-learned". When it comes to raising and training a dog, an ounce of
problem prevention is certainly worth a pound of cure!
2) Train your dog gently and humanely, and whenever possible, teach him using
positive, motivational methods. Keep obedience sessions upbeat so that the
training process is enjoyable for all parties involved. If training your pooch
is a drudgery, rev things up a bit, and try the "playtraining" approach:
incorporate constructive, non-adversarial games (such as "Go Find", "Hide 'n'
Seek", retrieving, etc.) into your training sessions.
3) Does your dog treat you like "hired help" at home? Does he treat you like a
human gymnasium when you're sitting on the furniture? Does he beg at the table?
Jump up on visitors? Demand your attention by annoying you to death? Ignore
your commands? How well your dog responds to you at home affects his behavior
outdoors as well. If your dog doesn't respond reliably to commands at home
(where distractions are relatively minimal), he certainly won't respond to you
properly outdoors where he's tempted by other dogs, pigeons, passersby,
sidewalk food scraps, etc.
4) Avoid giving your dog commands that you know you cannot enforce. Every time
you give a command that is neither complied with nor enforced your dog learns
that commands are optional.
5) One command should equal one response, so give your dog only one command
(twice max!), then gently enforce it. Repeating commands tunes your dog out (as
does nagging) and teaches your dog that the first several commands are a "bluff
'. For instance, telling your dog to "Sit, sit, sit, sit!", is neither an
efficient nor effective way to issue commands. Simply give your dog a single
"Sit" command and gently place or lure your dog into the sit position, then
6) Avoid giving your dog combined commands which are incompatible. Combined
commands such as "sit-down" can confuse your dog. Using this example, say
either "sit" or "down". The command "sit-down" simply doesn't exist.
7) When giving your dog a command, avoid using a loud voice. Even if your dog
is especially independent/unresponsive, your tone of voice when issuing an
obedience command such as "sit","down" or ""stay", should be calm and
authoritative, rather than harsh or loud.
NOTE: Many owners complain that their dogs are "stubborn", and that they
"refuse to listen" when given a command. Before blaming the dog when he doesn't
respond to a command, one must determine whether or not: a) the dog knows what
the owner wants, b) he knows how to comply, c) he is not simply being
unresponsive due to fear, stress or confusion.
8 ) Whenever possible, use your dog's name positively, rather than using it in
conjunction to reprimands, warnings or punishment. Your dog should trust that
when it hears its name or is called to you, good things happen. His name should
always be a word he responds to with enthusiasm, never hesitancy or fear.
9) Correct or, better yet, prevent the (mis)behavior, don't punish the dog.
Teaching and communication is what it's all about, not getting even with your
dog. If you're taking an "it's-you-against-your dog, whip 'em into shape"
approach, you'll undermine your relationship, while missing out on all the fun
that a motivational training approach can offer. Additionally, after-the-fact
discipline does NOT work.
10) When training one's dog, whether praising or correcting, good timing is
essential. Take the following example: You've prepared a platter of hors
d'oeuvres for a small dinner party, which you've left on your kitchen counter.
Your dog walks into the room and smells the hors d'oeuvres. He air-sniffs, then
eyes the food, and is poised to jump up. This is the best, easiest and most
effective time to correct your dog: before he's misbehaved, while he's thinking
about jumping up to get the food.
11) Often, dog owners inadvertently reinforce their dogs' misbehavior, by
giving their dogs lots of attention (albeit negative attention) when they
misbehave. Needless to say, if your dog receives lots of attention and handling
when he jumps up on you, that behavior is being reinforced, and is therefor
likely to be repeated.
12) Keep a lid on your anger. Never train your dog when you're feeling grouchy
or impatient. Earning your dog's respect is never accomplished by yelling,
hitting, or handling your dog in a harsh manner. Moreover, studies have shown
that fear and stress inhibit the learning process.