Positive Dog Training Tips
“The best way to handle an unruly dog is through positive training techniques, taking into account the dynamics of your family, dog and environment.”
Reality Check: Your Dog is a Dog
The first step in developing a positive dog training strategy is to recognize your dog is a dog and different breeds have different needs. Dogs may be cute, cuddly, protective, and man's best friend, but first they are a dog. To expect a dog to be anything more or less than what he is will do him and your family a disservice.
What breed category does your dog fall into? Retriever? Tracker? Hunter? Protector? If your dog is a natural tracker, then you need to find ways to allow him to meet that instinctual need. If your dog is a high energy breed, you will need to incorporate structured high energy outlets. If your dog is a natural retriever, then you will need to incorporate retrieving exercises into your dog's daily routine (throwing a tennis ball for your Labrador Retriever, for example).
As you help your dog find outlets for his natural instinctual behavior, you will soon find that he is more willing to cooperate with training and family rules. Positive dog training is a win, win, win, for you, your dog and your family!
Things You Must Consider
If you live in an apartment versus a large open rural area, you will have different expectations for your dog. If you have small children versus no children, you will need to steer your dog into different behavior patterns.
If your dog is frequently home alone as opposed to being constantly surrounded by people, she will have different needs.
These are all things that need to be considered as you begin your positive dog training program. These considerations will also influence your decision on which dog breeds fit well with your lifestyle.
Dog training frustration can often be caused by choosing the wrong dog breed for your circumstances, not recognizing how much time you have to focus on dog training, or not acknowledging why you want a dog in the first place.
Develop a Plan of Action For You and Your Dog
Take the time to write down a list of desired behaviors for your dog, problems you may be having, and what you will do to deal with each issue. Then prioritize your list.
For example, your first dog training goal may be to teach your dog to not jump up on people.
You will then have a plan of action that each member of the family will be able to refer to in order to achieve consistent training methods and lasting results.
If others in your household don't do things the same way you do, your dog will be very confused.
GOAL: Keep Fido from jumping up on family members and guests.
CORRECTIVE: When Fido jumps up, gently push him back with your knee, and firmly say, "No jumping."
PRAISE: Each time Fido shows self control by not jumping, get down on his level and give him physical affection and say in a praising tone, "Good boy."
Do not move onto the next goal until your dog shows some success in the previous one. This will make it easier for you and less confusing for the dog.
Choose Positive Dog Training: It's Better For You and Your Dog
The very best way to get anyone to do anything is to give them an incentive of some kind to reinforce the desired behavior. You go to work because you are incentivized with a paycheck.
You clean the house because you are incentivized with a pleasant and relaxing environment. The same applies to dogs. The incentive may be treats, praise, physical touch, or outings. Whatever you decide, be consistent.
The primary thing to remember is that dogs live in the moment. Consequently, all forms of praise or correction must take place IMMEDIATELY following the action for it to have any value. For example, if you discover an "accident" in the house and decide to rub your dog's nose in it, they won't understand your anger.
Remember: If you are tempted to lash out or be angry with your dog, stop and realize that the dog has no idea why you are angry. They just know you are scary. Positive dog training will always produce a happier and healthier dog that lives more harmoniously with their human family.