Here are tips for dog training at home
The American Kennel Club is an expert voice in the area of dog training. Just watch AKC dog shows on television and it becomes immediately evident that they know what the’re doing! Here are some of their top tips for dog training at home.
Listen to your dog:
Take note whenever your dog appears uncomfortable. If she is meeting another dog or a new human, don’t insist that she interact. If she is telling you that it just isn’t right, don’t force the issue.
Generously give your affection
People let their dog know when they are unhappy. However, they often forget to praise their dog. Make sure to give her lots of attention and praise when she’s doing a good thing! She wants to hear you say “good girl” when she sits for her dog treat or when she “heals” while walking by your side. With that in mind, don’t be afraid to be a little over the top with your kind words.
Make sure she likes what you’re giving her
Just because one dog likes a certain food or treat, it doesn’t mean your dog will. If you have been around dogs at all, you know that Mac may love the newest dog treat on the market while your girl may take one sniff and walk away. Dogs tend to like soft and chewy treats more than crunchy ones but it may not always be the case.
Tell your dog what you want her to do
It works best when you are specific. For example, she jumps up on your human guest as he sits on the couch. Instead of just saying “no’, give her a bit more information and tell her to “sit.” When she does sit, make sure to heap on the praise.
Consistency is a key
You have to make sure that everyone in the household who interacts with your dog is on the same page. For example, when she begs for food under the dinner table and you always say “no” and “go sit’ while someone else is slipping her pieces of filet mignon, it’s going to confuse her. She won’t know what to do (by the way, this can cause anxiety in your dog). It would probably be a good idea to have a meeting with the human members of the household to talk about this.
Have realistic expectations
Have realistic expectations about changing unwanted behaviors in your dog. It takes time for you to develop a new habit so know that it will be the same for your pooch. Some unwanted behaviors that will take time to change are barking, digging, jumping and chewing.
Also, consider how long she has “rehearsed” her behavior. For example, if she has been jumping on guests as they enter the house for the past five years it will take time to change that. Furthermore, consider that it is never too late to change an unwanted behavior.
You get what you reinforce, not necessarily what you want
If your pooch exhibits an unwanted behavior it is something that likely has been reinforced. For example, if she barks to entice you to throw her toy and then you throw it, she has just learned that barking will get her what she wants. If you wait a while to throw it, she has learned that persistent barking has paid off.
As a result, you will have a dog that barks every time she wants something. What is the solution? You can ignore the barking. Or, you can ask her to do something like “sit” before you throw the toy.
If you have a new dog, let her earn her freedom around the house. A very common error that dog parents make is to give too much freedom too soon. This can lead to things such as chewing. Consider closing off doors to occupied rooms and use baby gates to partition parts of the house.
In addition, you can also keep your dog tethered to you while you are home. You can use a doggie crate to contain her when you are not home.
If your dog knows a few basic commands, it will be easier to move on and tackle unwanted behaviors.
So, let’s get some advice from everyone’s favorite expert, Cesar Millan, “The Dog Whisperer.” Here are five basic commands you can use for dog training at home.
This is one of the easiest commands so it is a good one to begin with. Here’s how to do it:
- Hold a treat close to her nose.
- Move your hand up which will allow her head to follow the treat and will cause her bottom to lower.
- Once in the sitting position say “sit” give her the treat and give your affection.
Repeat this a few times every day until she has mastered it. Then, you can ask her to sit before meals, when going on a walk or in those situations where you would like her to be calm and seated.
This is an essential one because it can help keep your pooch out of trouble. It is extremely handy in those cases when you loose your grip on a leash or you leave the door open. Here’s what you do:
- Put a collar and leash on your dog.
- Go down to her level and say “come” while gently pulling on her leash.
- When she gets to you, reward her with praise and a treat.
Once she has mastered this with the leash, remove it and practice the command safely indoors.
Did you know that this is one of the most difficult commands in obedience training? That’s because “down” is a submissive position. In this case, keep the training positive and relaxed, especially with anxious or fearful dogs. Here’s how it works:
- Get a good smelling treat and hold it in your closed fist
- Hold your fist to her snout and when she sniffs it, move your hand to the floor so she follows.
- Then, slide your fist along the floor in front of her so her body will follow her head.
- Once she is in the down position, say “down” then give her the treat and share praise.
It is important that your pooch has mastered the “sit” command before you move onto this one.
- First, ask her to sit.
- Then, open the palm of your hand in front of you and give the “stay” command.
- Step back a bit and reward her with a treat and praise if she stays.
- Gradually increase the number of steps back you take before giving the treat.
- Always reward her for staying put – even if it is for only a few seconds
This excerise instills self-control in your dog and it make take some time to master. It may be even more challenging for puppies and high energy dogs.
This is a highly important one for keeping your best friend safe. As you have probably seen, dogs like to investigate things – especially smelly, gross things on the ground. That something on the ground coud be dangerous. So, the goal is to teach your pooch that she gets something even better if she ignores that thing on the ground. Here’s what you do:
- Place a treat in both hands.
- Show your friend the enclosed fist with the treat inside and say “leave it.”
- Allow her to lick, sniff, mouth, paw and bark as she tries to get it. Then ignore her behavior.
- After she stops trying, give her the treat from the other hand.
- Repeat until she moves away from the first fist when you say “leave it.”
- Then, only reward her with the treat after she moves away from the first fist and looks up at you.
After your dog has learned to move away from the first treat and give you eye contact when you give the command, you take it to the next level. In this case, you are going to use two treats. One of them will be an “OK” treat and the other will be absolutely delicious.
- Now, say “leave it”, place the less tasty treat on the floor and cover it with your hand.
- Wait until she ignores it and looks at you. After this, remove the treat from the floor and give her the tastier treat along with praise.
- Then, once she’s got it, again place the less tasty treat on the floor. But this time, only partially cover it and hold your hand above it. Then, continue to move your hand up to about 6″ above the treat.
- Now stand up and follow the same steps. Then, if she tries to get it, cover it with your foot.
Don’t rush it!
Use these tips and commands for dog training at home and you will be well on your way to having a happy dog. Remember, dogs are pack animals and are happiest when they have a leader. That leader is you!
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