Article by Philip Roberts
If you want a well-behaved dog, there is a lot that relies on the dog’s personality. However, nearly any dog can learn, at least a bit of manners. Depending on the dog’s personality and desire to learn, you may need to work a little harder or try some different methods to get the results you desire.
When you are training your dog, make sure you are very patient. Different dog breeds learn at different rates. One dog can learn quickly while another dog will take a long time. If you are impatient you will stress your dog and he will be resistant to your best training efforts.
Always end a training session with your dog on a positive note, even if you have to manipulate the scenario to make your dog successful. Ending a training session immediately after a disciplinary action will mean that your dog will remember the session as being about punishment, not about training.
Be a leader first and a “friend” second. From the moment you bring your dog home or begin to train him, you must constantly be leading. Attitude is your key to successful dominance and alpha behavior. Giving in to the playful side of your pet degrades the role you should be creating for your dog.
Reinforcement is a key element in dog training. Reinforcement only works, however, when it is executed with the proper timing. Excitedly saying, “Good girl!” just a few seconds too late has little positive impact on the dog’s future performance in terms of the desired act. Reinforcement for desired behavior should be immediate.
If your dog needs more stimulation (and most dogs do), but you have limited mobility or the weather is terrible, consider other ways of keeping your dog entertained by making him work for his meals. Use his kibble as rewards for performing tasks or commands. Alternatively, you can use a toy that the dog must get the food out of!
Many instances can arise when an owner is out of ear shot of the dog but still clearly in his sight. Dogs can even be trained to respond to the position of the owner’s body. For example, the owner might raise his or her arms above his head and lean in one direction or another to direct the stock dog to a particular point in a field.
If you are serious about training your dog, remember to be a dog during training. Dogs establish control and behavior through physical commands and less through spoken command. When you want your dog to exhibit a certain behavior, use nudges or posture adjustments physically along with your verbal commands. These are traits your dog expects and will respond accordingly.
Only give commands you are prepared to follow through with, or the dog will learn that it is all right to ignore you. If you give the command to sit, the dog must sit immediately or you will enforce the command with a finger pushing down on the lower back. Never give a command and allow the dog to choose whether to obey you or not unless you want to let the dog be the one in charge.
Affection makes a great reward, however, be careful not to turn it into play. During training sessions, physical rewards such as belly rubs or scratching the ears can easily be overdone and lead the dog to think you are entering a play cycle. Keep the rewards quick and allow your dog to maintain focus for more training.
Use the clicker method for training your dog. Clicker training is a form of conditioning that can help a dog to identify behavior that produces praise or a reward. After your dog has successfully obeyed a command, use the clicker to indicate that he will get a treat. Your dog will soon learn if he isn’t following commands or behaving correctly! Certain studies have shown that using a clicker reduces training time by one third.
Applying the advice given here will help your dog to be the best behaved pet that he can be. Remember, one of the most important parts of dog training is patience. Pair your patience with some creativity and more often than not, you really can teach an old dog new tricks.
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