How To Train New Behaviors
Use Life Rewards
Want a well-behaved dog all of the time, not just when you have a treat bag full of cheese? Get in the habit of using life rewards as a training strategy. Basically: Whatever your dog wants, make him work for it.
He wants to go for a walk? Ask for a sit before you snap on the leash.
He wants to go in the garden? Ask him for a high five before you open the door.
He wants you to throw the Frisbee? Rub his belly? Give him his dinner? Ask for whichever command you want to strengthen.
Other situations you can use as a reward: Giving out toys or chewies, play sessions, inviting Fido on the couch, taking off the leash at the beach, etc.
Don't ask for too much too soon. Wonderful as they are, dogs have lemon-sized brains---they don't learn as fast as we do and they need time to apply what they learn in one setting to other settings.
For example: If your dog has learned to sit before you open the front door, but still rushes through the back door, he's not being deliberately naughty. He doesn't realize that waiting applies to all doors. Practice waiting at different doors in different places at different times, and your dog will soon catch on.
How to Get Rid of Unwanted Behaviors
Don't Like It? Don't Reward It!
If your dog jumps up on a visitor and the visitor pets your dog? That's rewarding your dog for jumping. If your dog drops a ball in front of you and barks, and you throw the ball? That's rewarding your dog for barking. Any behavior that's rewarding for your dog---that is, gets him what he wants---he will try again.
Don't like the behavior? Don't reinforce it with attention (even yelling "no" is attention) of any kind. Ignore your dog until he's doing something you like. Sitting, for example. Or just keeping all four paws on the ground. (Not sure how to make this approach work for your problem? Contact us for help.
Kids and Dogs
Did you know that 77% OF ALL DOG BITES COME FROM A FRIEND'S DOG OR EVEN A FAMILY'S VERY OWN DOG?!
It's important to teach kids how to be respectful and safe while still having fun with dogs (and hey, there are many grown-ups who could learn a few things too).
Being an advanced, credentialed dog trainer with a degree in psychology and early childhood education puts me in a unique position to help families and youth groups learn about dog safety. Let me know if you are interested in private family sessions or public presentations to teach about this important subject, for the good of the kids AND the dogs in their lives. Special tips for Families with dogs: http://stopthe77.com/
Early socialization is central to the prevention of behavior problems like fear and aggression.
The first 12 weeks of your puppy's life is the so-called critical socialization window. During this time your puppy soaks up experiences like a sponge to determine what in his environment is safe and what isn't.
What does this mean? If you want an adult dog, for example, that loves kids and other dogs, is laid-back about mail carriers, and enjoys riding in cars, now is the time to teach him. The more people, dogs, and situations that you can positively expose your puppy to, the better. Keep it calm, keep it short and keep it happy.
It's a good idea for your puppy to have his first set of shots at least a week before socializing in a safe, clean environment with friendly, healthy pups and dogs. But don't wait longer. The risks of under-socialization are much greater than the risk of disease.
For more information, read the American Veterinary Society of Animal Behavior's statement on puppy socialization.
Worried about socialization or puppy manners? Contact us for puppy training lessons, complete with a socialization plan.
TEACH YOUR PUPPY TO LIKE...
- People of all kinds. Old, young, in uniform, in a bikini, bespectacled, or wearing hats---you want a dog you can safely take out in public.
- Dogs of all breeds and temperaments. Playful, reserved, flat-faced, longhaired, wire-haired, wheezing, floppy-eared, bossy, or shy---you want a dog with all-around social skills.
- Handling. Grooming, examinations at the vet, tick checks, teeth brushing, taking away that chew toy---you want a dog you and others can handle without fear.