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Dog Training

Dog Training

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Begin teaching obedience commands as soon as you obtain your puppy. Use positive training methods to encourage and reward good behavior. Following your commands should be fun for your canine companion. Remember to regularly incorporate into your dog’s daily routine the commands you’ve taught him or her. Don’t save the command "come" for obedience class and training sessions. Practice it whenever you want your dog to approach you and remember to make your pet’s effort worth it - be it with a kindly smile and pat or a delicious treat. Teaching your dog manners will make him or her the joy of the neighborhood instead of the local nuisance when you teach your dog to calmly accept routine handling and pair the experience with treats and lots of praise.

Avoid development of inappropriate and unacceptable behaviors by addressing your pet’s innate behavioral needs and adhering to the following three "rules”:

  1. Remember to reward behaviors that you want to encourage.
  2. Prevent unacceptable behaviors from happening over time, supervision and appropriate outlets.
  3. Train your dog that acquiescing to your requests reaps desired rewards. Of course, there will be times when your dog misbehaves. You should never use harsh physical punishment to correct your dog when he’s behaving inappropriately.

Clicker training is an excellent way of teaching your dog new commands. This positive, reward-based training method uses a click to mark the desired behavior. Initially, the sound of the clicker is meaningless to your dog. Therefore, you first need to condition your pet to associate a "click" sound with a delicious food treat. Every time you click, your dog gets a treat. After a while, your dog will understand that the "click" means something good and you can proceed to the next step. This next step is to click when your dog is engaged in desirable behavior that he or she happens to display, say sitting, and then reward with food. Once a dog has figured out what behavior makes the clicker go off, and after that the food has been given, they will offer that behavior more often. The last step is to use a command word (e.g. "Sit!") and reward your dog when it responds after the command word is used.

Excessively harsh corrections may teach your dog that you are not trustworthy and at the very worst could make your dog fearful or even aggressive. Instead, use humane and calm corrections that are appropriate for the degree of transgression. Verbal reprimands said without emotion, ignoring attention-seeking behaviors, enforcing time outs, withdrawal of expected rewards and occasional environmental punishers (i.e.water pistol, shake can, fog horn or even better the Snappy Trainer) are all appropriate means of discouraging undesirable animal behavior.

Crate Training Your Dog

Crate training by making the crate a pleasant place to be will allow you to confine your puppy when you can’t supervise him or her. This helps prevent your puppy from developing unwanted behaviors. Do not use the crate for punishment or for long-term confinement.

Teaching your puppy to call its crate "home" will have long term advantages. Once your puppy is fully trained, you will no longer need to use it as a babysitter. However, it is important that your adult dog continues to have positive experiences with the crate, as you may need it to restrict your dog’s activities following surgeries or as he or she recuperates from an illness.

House Training Your Dog

Constant vigilance and regular opportunities to eliminate outdoors are essential when housetraining your puppy. You must be willing to take your puppy outside on a scheduled basis, at all hours of the day and night, and anytime he or she indicates a desire to go outdoors. When you are housetraining, if your puppy asks to go out, it should only be for a "business" trip. If he or she does not eliminate quickly, return indoors and keep a watchful eye. Young puppies may need to eliminate every one to four hours when they are awake and active. Adult dogs can usually hold their waste for six to eight hours during the day and eight to ten hours overnight. Each dog is an individual in this department so learn your dog’s physical limits and do not exceed them. As with all training endeavors, patience and consistency are the keys to success. Keep in mind that it may take several weeks or months to reliably housetrain your puppy.

Everyone in the family should chip in and help with all aspects of the training, including taking the puppy outside on a regular schedule, supervising him or her when indoors, and cleaning up any mistakes with an appropriate enzymatic cleanser.

Teaching your puppy to eliminate on command has obvious advantages. The command technique allows you to not only train your dog when it should eliminate but also lets you designate the latrine area.

Dr. Borns-Weil says...

Dr. Stephanie Borns-Weil, DVM, DACVB

Dr. Borns-Weil, DVM, DACVB

Board-Certified Animal Behaviorist

Teaching your dog manners will make him or her the joy of the neighborhood instead of the local nuisance when you teach your dog to calmly accept routine handling and pair the experience with treats and lots of praise.

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