6 Essential Dog Training Tips

  • Downhome Magazine
  • Posted: Nov 30, -0001 12:00 AM
House Training
Establish a puppy living area or den (not a cage or crate). Section off a confined area with his own bed in the porch or kitchen. Spend as much time as possible with your puppy there. At first the puppy may soil the area, but this will be less likely once he realizes he sleeps there. Establish a toilet area outside. Create a regular feeding schedule so that what comes out is on a regular schedule. When he starts to soil the den, immediately take him outside and praise him. Once he's used to the routine you can move the den around the house making each room an extension of the den until he's ready to explore on his own. Never punish your dog for relieving himself inside.

Puppy Biting
Normally puppies would learn not to bite from their mother and litter mates. But now we must take over the training. When two puppies are playing and one is bitten too hard, it will let out a yelp. You can do the same and then quickly stop playing with the puppy. If he continues to bite, you can act like the mother and let out a loud, short reprimand: "No!" Never hit your dog, it will make the problem worse. You can also use a choker chain to imitate the mother's teeth and give it a jerk on the puppy's neck as soon as he bites. It should be quick and firm, but it should not harm him. Also, it's helpful to allow your puppy to socialize with other dogs, so he will learn from their reactions.

The reason dogs jump up on people is because they are happy and excited to see them. It is usually learned when they are puppies that when they jump up to our knees we bend down to pick them up. We were rewarding them for jumping up and it's only when they're older we decide we don't like it. Other times we reward them for such an enthusiastic greeting, but when we're wearing dress clothes it's no longer cute. This creates cross messages and confuses the dog. Provide your dog with an alternative method of greeting. Teach your dog to sit and stay. Do not return the greeting until he is sitting down. Practice this over and over by leaving through the back door and coming in the front.

Running Away
When a dog realizes coming back to his owner means ending his playful romp, he's going to stop coming. If after a long period of calling he comes back and is scolded for not listening, he will associate coming back with being punished; the dog learns that ignoring the owner is infinitely more rewarding. Practise using a very long leash. Stay in one spot and let the dog roam to the extent of it. Start calling him and really praise him when he listens (you can also reward with a treat). Play with him when he returns so obeying your call is not an end to his fun. Let your dog off the leash only when it is a safe environment for him, other people and other dogs.

Excessive Barking
Barking is a perfectly natural behaviour, but it can become excessive when dogs are socially isolated or confined for long periods. When they have no means of exercise, barking becomes an enjoyable habit and an outlet to vent energy. Dogs need companionship so spend time playing, training and exercising with them. Take them around the neighbourhood, so they can investigate where all the sounds and smells are coming from. When tied on, allow them to occupy their time with a digging pit or chew toys. Also, do not reward dogs who bark to come inside or to go out. Praise them when they stop and then let them out.

Responsible Ownership
Dogs need proper nutrition, socialization, training, exercise and veterinary care. Most importantly, they need love and understanding. Before buying or adopting a dog, ask yourself if in 15 years you'll still be able to provide everything a dog needs. Have your dog spayed or neutered; pets are more prone to wandering in traffic if they are unaltered. Allow your dog to live in your house with your family and never leave him out on cold nights. However, do allow him ample time outside with other people and with other dogs. Keep in mind that dogs are a long-term commitment and it's up to you to provide your pet with a lifetime of love, care and attention.