Back to Basics: 10 Great Dog Training Tips

Dog Training

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  • There’s a huge difference between a well-mannered dog and one that requires constant reprimanding. Many dog owners, however, don’t realize they have developed bad training habits that contribute to their pet’s popularity problem.
  • Typical dog training pitfalls: lack of adequate socialization, giving a command without really meaning it, overly harsh corrections, lack of patience, and lack of consistency in commands used.
  • More pitfalls: sending mixed signals to your dog, allowing your dog to lead you rather than the other way around, and not understanding how your dog views the world.

By Dr. Becker

Everyone realizes there’s a big difference between a well-mannered canine citizen and an unpredictable, out-of-control dog. But often dog owners develop bad training habits without realizing it, and are left feeling confused and concerned about their dog’s uncooperative behavior.

10 Great Dog Training Tips

  1. Socialize your dog early and often. Puppies and even adult dogs need to be exposed to new places, noises, people, and other animals. As soon as your puppy is immunized, he should be given regular opportunities to socialize and have new experiences. This will go a long way toward curbing fear-based, unfriendly behavior toward other dogs.
  2. When you give a command, try to say it only once. Repeating a command over and over tells your dog you really didn’t mean what you said the first time, and therefore she really doesn’t need to respond to your command immediately.
  3. When correcting an undesirable behavior, give a one or two-word command and immediately redirect your dog to a more appropriate behavior. Do not yell, hit, kick, yank or jerk the leash, or “alpha roll” your pet. All you’ll teach your dog with aggressive corrections is to fear you.
  4. Exercise patience. Your dog picks up on the tone and volume of your voice and your body language, and can sense when you’re feeling frustrated or angry. As soon as your dog feels anxious about your mood, all positive training opportunities go out the window.
  5. Be consistent in the words you use to train your dog. Repeat the same command for a particular behavior you desire. For example, if your dog has a habit of jumping up on people, pick a one-word command like “Down” and stick with it. Don’t say “Down” some of the time, “Off” at other times, “No” now and then, and “Bad Dog” when you’re truly frustrated.
  6. Also be consistent in what you ask of your dog. If you don’t want her on the couch, be consistent about not letting her on the couch. Don’t allow her up there some of the time or even once in awhile. It’s not mean to set reasonable boundaries for your dog, but it IS mean to confuse her by constantly changing the rules she’s expected to live by.
  7. Lead your dog on walks rather than the other way around. Make two-thirds of each walk about keeping a brisk pace, with your dog moving beside you. Then allow him to sniff, dawdle and read his pee-mail during the other one-third of your walk.
  8. Learn something about how dogs think. As difficult as it is to believe at times, your dog doesn’t think like a human. Her thought processes aren’t complicated. Dogs think in black and white, and they live in the moment. The more you understand about what makes your dog tick, the better equipped you’ll be to help her be a wonderful companion. Don’t be hard on your dog for being a dog.
  9. Always, always reward your dog for good behavior, with small training treats, affection, and/or an enthusiastic “Good Dog!” This will help your pet learn the difference between doing something you like and something you don’t like.
  10. Make training sessions short and fun. Stay calm and upbeat, and spend no more than 10 minutes per session.