Victoria’s Top Ten Training Tips
- Be Positive. Always remember to reward the good and ignore the bad. Never miss an opportunity to immediately reward your dog for behavior you like by giving him praise, a treat, his favorite toy, or whatever it is that makes him happiest. But if your dog is doing something you don’t like, use constructive discipline to guide your dog rather than to instill fear. A dog should learn as much from discipline as it does from reward. But be quick! While dogs do learn to associate certain behaviors with good or bad things, their short term memory is very short – if you don’t reward or use discipline immediately following the behavior, they will not associate what you like or don’t like about the behavior they just did.
- Think dog. Take time to think how your dog perceives the world and use this knowledge to make training easier and more effective.
- Talk dog. Effective communication with your dog is key – dogs don’t speak our language, so we have to learn to speak theirs. If we don’t, we risk misdiagnosis of behaviors, frustration, and a potential rise in anxiety-based behaviors.
- Be consistent. Dogs only learn from us through repetition. Inconsistent training ends up confusing your dog, potentially creating more problems.
- Be patient. Positive reinforcement training can take time, especially if you’re trying to change an ingrained, instinctual behavior that’s been reinforced over time. But positive training is the only way to truly change the way a dog feels – forcing a dog to ‘submit’ to you only restricts the dog from expressing his frustration or fear without truly eliminating and replacing those feelings. All dogs need a calm, confident leader to make them feel secure, but being a leader is not about dominating your dog, it’s about building his confidence by encouraging and rewarding good behavior.
- Exercise your dog. A tired dog is a happy dog but make sure that the exercise is appropriate for the breed and age of dog that you have.
- Keep training. It is easy for owners to think that once a dog is trained, there is no need to carry on. But your dog never stops learning and training should be reinforced throughout your dog’s life.
- Watch the waistline. Look at your dog’s diet and see how you can improve it. You are what you eat and the same is true for your dog. Many behavior and medical problems can be attributed to poor diet, so make sure your dog is getting the best that you can give.
- Set your dog up for success. Always try to ensure that the dog’s environment doesn’t create unnecessary frustrations or distractions – there’s no reason to tempt the dog. For example, if your dog is a counter-surfer, just make sure the counter is clear when you leave the dog.
- Stay healthy. Get your dog microchipped if you haven’t already and don’t forget his yearly check up with the vet. An unhealthy dog is an unhappy dog and one that might begin to develop more negative behaviors.
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