1: Be consistent
Rules and commands are etched in stone, they do not change. “Sit” as opposed to “sit-down,” “down” as opposed to “lay-down”. Not on the furniture means always not on the furniture. It does not mean: don’t get on the furniture, except on Wednesdays between noon and 4PM. – it’s OK then. Puppy confusion comes from rule changes.
2: Preventing mistakes is easier than curing wrongs
Educating and managing your dog is much easier, and more fun, than un- learning bad habits.
3: Communicate clearly to your dog Audible voice, clear articulation: if they can’t hear or understand you, it’s tough for them to learn.
4: It takes as many times as it takes.
If it is 10,000? So be it. Never let the dog out-will you or discourage you when a training objective is set. Be patient. Have an iron resolve and focus. Avoid saying: I give up teaching this dog to (fill in command here). Let’s take sit for example. The scenario could sound like this: Sit Fido….sit ….Fido…SIT!….SIT…..SIT!!!…..SIT! FIDO!!…Sit!!. I give up, he won’t sit. Don’t let this be you. Give the command, if Fido does not sit, show Fido what “sit” means by gently pulling up on Fido’s collar while firmly, and gently, pushing his rear end down. Repeating a command out of frustration could possibly habituate the dog to the command and soon the command will just be meaningless noise.
5: Keep your dog’s attention at all times This develops focus on you and helps eliminate distractions for your dog.
6: Avoid training if you are not in a good mood or agitated
Did you ever meet someone while you are not in the best frame of mind and get asked: everything OK? Your dog can tell too. If you do lose patience, who bears the brunt of the anger? Your dog. This is a negative event for your dog and will not take them long to tune you out all together thus making you even more frustrated.
7: Patience and perseverance leads to success
If at first you don’t succeed…… try again…and again…and again – if necessary – and always with a smile:)
8: Repetition helps learning – be mindful of boredom
How many times can you listen to the same song, the same story or eat the same meal before boredom sets in? Before you want to do or try something else?
9: Each dog is different: breed, temperament intelligence
It is generally easier to teach a Labrador Retriever than a Mastiff to play fetch.
10: Avoid using your dog’s name when giving command or correction
Saying a dog’s name and then giving a command runs the risk of the dog associating the dog’s name with something the dog may not want to do – this could be interpreted as a negative for the dog. Look at your dog, give the command once – dog will know who you are talking to, then show your dog what you want them to do if the command is not executed successfully by the dog on first request. It is normal for human to repeat the command to the dog the same way it is normal it is normal to keep pushing the elevator or cross walk button repeatedly. This is called “finishing the command”. Provide ample reward in the initial stages of helping your dog do what you want him/her to do, to become the dog you want.
11: Ample and enthusiastic praise using dog’s name for the good, ignore the unwanted, in some case correct the unwanted
Good dog, you’re so smart, good boy/girl, you’re such a good hunter, you’re such a fast runner – anything positive in a happy and enthusiastic voice tone. Rub on ribs, scratch/rub back, treats etc. If the behaviour is undesirable, like waking you in the middle of the night, the first option, and in my opinion, the best, is to ignore. If there is a positive response for the dog, he/she will repeat their efforts to wake you again and again. Now the dog has you trained.
12: Train in different locations with different distraction levels
Gradually increase distraction levels of your training area; this helps your dog focus level, build up from no or low distraction location, say in a tennis court behind a school, to higher level distraction areas, say like a busy city street.
13: Use distinct tones (from happy to harsh) when educating your dog:
1) Sit Rex – whisper like – use anytime and often as long as your dog is within ear-shot.
2) Sit Rex:) – normal conversation – standard, normal calm relaxed tone, l like talking to a bud over a beer across the table from you. You are relaxed, no tension, just: this is what I need you to do my puppy.
3) Sit Rex! – conversation in a busy restaurant – this tone says the fun and games are over, you are not annoyed but you do mean it and of course you always follow through. Do you want to come when I call you or do you want me to go get you?
4) SIT REX!! – Your best friend is about to get hit by a bus kinda volume
This tone is to be used sparingly. If it is used too often, the dog will habituate to this; it will have little to no meaning when it is really needed. Keep this one in your back pocket, as it were, so that when the dog hears it, it has real/significant meaning/impact. Using this tone too frequently will become from a tone and akin to the “Boy Who Cried Wolf”. If “SIT REX” is used with impunity, when a time comes where you need an attention getter, you will have nowhere else to go regarding tone and volume.
14: Use distractions on review work; avoid distraction when learning new material.
The term is “proofing” – when we teach sit, concentrate on sit. Avoid being in a high distraction location where there might be : cats, squirrels, bikes, joggers, for example.
If your dog is ‘proofed” on a certain behaviour or command, that means they will execute that specific “proofed command” 95-98 times of a hundred successfully with distractions in any situation.
15: Avoid practicing “sit and stay” & “down and stay” together
This could cause confusion in a puppy brain. Remember: clarity is key in communicating with your dog.
16: All learning experiences are a two-way street
Educating and managing your dog is a great way to get to know yourself and your dog. It’s a great way for your dog to get to know you too!
17: Humans enter and exit entry-ways first as well as up and or downstairs stairs.
This includes all door-ways: home, friend’s house, apartments, stores, park gates, elevators, escalators, or any passage-way. Human leads, every time. Not only does this practice help establish human/owner as the leader, but it also helps with safety. You do not want your dog nudging you on a stairway when you are carrying a load of laundry, or a baby or a case of beer. This is not about showing the dog “who the boss is” or “dominating” or “being Alpha. This is about order and safety.
18: Always remain calm, cool and collected when in the house.
In the house is like in a yoga studio. Calmness and serenity prevail for the dog. No playing ball, fetch, tug-o-war, Frisbee in the house. Play for outdoors. Teaching dogs to be calm, cool and collected in the house will have systemic benefits for you to get the dog you want.
19: Teaching and learning should be fun and enjoyable, not a chore.
Teaching and learning should be fun for the owner(s) and the dog. Have several educations sessions during the day – there is no limit to the amount of these sessions for you and your dog in the run of a day. Show your dog and lots of enthusiasm during the training session – smiles everybody…smiles! Be invested, interested and engaged in the education and management of your dog. This will benefit owner and dog and help foster a strong bond between human and dog. Learning should be fun for dog and human. Recall your school days. Is it possible the subjects you did well in were the subjects you liked? Who despised math and got 99s?
20: Training is a process. Some processes take longer than others.
It is a long and involved process to become a doctor. It is a short process to order a pizza. Education a dog is somewhere in between. Regardless of how long the training process is, enjoy it.
21: Pick the dog you need, not the dog you want.
When asked: What made you get (fill in breed of dog here) – most people (90-95%) respond: “I just love the way they look”, or a variation of this. Completely understandable, who doesn’t want what they believe to be a beautiful dog? If you run 10k five days a week, maybe a Dalmatian, Vizla or Weimaraner could be a good fit. If you are not so active, maybe a Mastiff or Great Dane would work. Highly active and energetic people could consider a Border Collie or German Shepherd. Think about this: A couple with two active kids. They need a new vehicle. Likely not on the list: Ferrari, Mustang, Miata, Beatle. Vehicles that might be a better fit: mini-van, Ford F-150, an SUV.
22: Tension creates tension.
If your dog is pulling on the leash, for whatever reason, the more the human pulls south, the more your dog will pull north. Your objective is to have zero leash tension all the time and in any situation. To do this your dog needs to be cool, calm and collected in various situations. You’re being calm, cool and collected will be instrumental in achieving slack-leash in all situations.
23: Do not be out willed by your dog – or if you prefer – be more stubborn that your dog.
24: 4 Kinds of rewards:
Touch or physical (a good scratch on ribs, shoulders, close to tail)
Treat in the form of food
Verbal: good pup, smart dog
Object: Kong, ball
25: Build a solid relationship through training with lots of positive feedback to your dog.
Your objective is for your dog to believe that with Mom or Dad is the best place in the world to be.