Many dogs have inadvertently learned incorrect behaviour from their owners and require to be educated in how to behave correctly. It would be very unusual for a dog to be simply “bad” or “untrainable”, in the vast majority of cases the dog has simply learned bad behaviour – or not learned “good” behaviour!
The first step is to remain calm and in control, shouting, smacking and screaming are not as effective as consistent positive training (i.e. rewarding the dog for good behaviour – with treats initially and then just with attention, cuddles etc – and ignoring them when they behave inappropriately).
Secondly make sure the dog realises that you are the “pack leader” and not the other way around, many owners try to spoil their dogs in the vain hope of an easy life – this is far from the case, once your dog realises that it can get the attention/treats/rewards it desires by repeating patterns of (bad) behaviour, essentially the dog will be training you! This is why many people have barking problems with their dogs. Most dogs dont realise whether barking is a good thing or a bad thing. Sometimes when the dog barks, it is ignored. Other times, the dog is praised (warding off possible intruders). And yet other times, the dog is shouted at (owner has a headache/is tired/is on the telephone etc). People are consistently inconsistent, especially when it comes to their pets!
When it comes to housetraining, remember that your dog is an instinctively clean animal. If the dog can avoid it, it would rather not soil itself or her usual eating and sleeping area. All the dog needs is positive encouragement when it eliminates in correct places.
A popular, modern method for dog training and obedience is “Clicker training”, this is a slang term used to describe a way of training dogs that has become increasingly popular in the last decade due to its gentle and effective methods. The scientific term for it is operant conditioning. Simply put simply put, an dog tends to repeat an action that has a positive consequence and tends not to repeat one that has a negative consequence. The problem with other types of conditioning is that it is difficult to reinforce good behaviour at a distance, the clicker allows you to mark with great precision the good behaviour for which the dog is being reinforced, even if it the dog is some distance from you.
The clicker is a simple cheap and effective device, basically it’s just a metal strip encased in a plastic box that when pressed makes a unique sharp clicking noise that the dog can distinguish easily from background noises. If you are having any problems training your dog this should be the first product on your shopping list.
Teaching your dog the “sit” command could be one of the most useful commands you ever teach him. A poorly trained dog is a direct reflection on you the pet owner and how much care about your dog. In fact an untrained dog becomes a nuisance to its owner therefore the dog and owner become unhappy. Whether it’s a puppy or a fully grown dog you can teach them to sit with a little effort on your part.
Have you been putting it off because you think your dog will never be able to learn a new ‘trick’? Don’t put it off any longer. Start teaching your dog how to sit today.
Use some of these tips to teach your dog to sit:
You are going to need some treats; unfortunately this is always the best way to get a dog to do something you want! You can use anything you know your dog enjoys: biscuits, chewy treats or household items.
The main goal is to get your dog to sit when you use the word. One way you can gradually get your dog used to the word is by saying the word when the dog is sitting anyway. Dog sits down – you say “sit” and praise them.
You will also need to practice this every day by doing the following:
- Call your dog and offer them the treat. Let them sniff the treat and get excited first!
- Slowly move the treat until it’s over the dogs head. The dog will naturally move into the sitting position.
- It’s important that the dog associates the activity of sitting with the treat, the praise and the action of sitting. Try to get your timing right.
- Keep bribing the dog and gradually decrease the size of the treat. Keep enthusiastically praising the dog.
- Repeat this exercise a few times a day. Don’t overdo it – you want your pet to think of it as fun.
- Try to practice around mealtimes when your dog is hungry; this will make him keener for the treats.
- Have the treats easily accessible, don’t fumble around – the treat needs to happen as the dog is sitting.
- Don’t push your dog’s bottom down; this won’t work because your pet will associate the action of sitting with having you push his bottom to the ground. If this really isn’t working you might want to consider obedience classes with other dogs.
- End each training session on a positive note.
Teaching your dog to sit using these positive reinforcement techniques will strengthen the bond between you. Consider it time well spent.
Once you have mastered the basic command ‘sit’ it should be quite easy to train your dog the other basic commands. “Sit-stay”, “down” ‘heel’ and ‘come are some of the most useful commands. Use the treats in a similar way. Training your dog is an ongoing process. You want to keep praising your dog regularly and never associate anger with the dog’s reaction to your command.
Make use of every new situation to train or put your training into practice. The most important part about learning how to sit – is that the dog sits under a variety of conditions. Sitting in new environments, around other dogs, around new people, when the doorbell rings etc.
Training your dog well is one of the most important things you can do for your dog. Besides having a well behaved dog you will also have an obedient dog. Dogs function as part of a pack – and you are the leader. Your dog will be better adjusted and happier if they know their place in the pack. Your dog is by nature keen to please you. Be a great pack leader and start teaching your puppy to sit today!