Understand normal dog behaviour: Often, a behaviour people don’t like is perfectly normal for a dog to do (or for the breed of dog to do.) In some cases, such as chewing, it’s a behaviour the dog NEEDS to do. By giving the dog an appropriate outlet for these natural behaviours, the dog will be much happier and more relaxed. You can use these highly desired behaviours as a reward for when the dog does something you like. If your puppy is chewing on furniture (then you have not taken appropriate steps for management/prevention) but you can ask the pup to sit and then reward that desired behaviour with a Kong he’s allowed to chew on. Often supervision and redirecting the dog to an appropriate outlet is the best solution for natural dog behaviours.
Be consistent: Dogs learn much faster when the rules remain the same. If you sometimes got a pay cheque for going to work and sometimes got it for staying home, but the rules about which was which weren’t clear, you would have some stress and confusion. People do this to their dogs all the time! Jumping up is OK unless I’m wearing nice clothes or your feet are dirty. Barking is ok unless the neighbours have been complaining or a sleeping baby is visiting. Sometimes it’s ok to get on the sofa, sometimes it’s not. The problem is compounded when more than one person routinely interacts with the dog. Make sure all family members understand and apply the same rules. Dogs are often willing to follow the rules when the rules are clear and consistent.
Look for the good: We are a punishing species. It is a proven fact that when a person uses punishment and it gets results, the use of punishment is more likely. However, the same can be said of using rewarding methods. If you
Be active: Most dogs do not get the exercise they require. Many are overweight and bored out of their minds. By keeping their mind and body active, the dog will have less time to get himself into trouble by creating his own fun but often troublesome games.Don’t mix signals: As humans, we communicate primarily with words. Dogs, however, are best at reading non-verbal signals like body language and tone of voice. We also tend to use our words in a confusing way- saying “down” when we mean “get off” and repeating the cue so fast it becomes a new cue (“sit, sit, sit”.) Now the dog waits to hear “sit-sit-sit” before he responds. Our message and tone can be confusing too. Saying “come here!” in a rough and growly voice does not indicate to the dog that going toward you will be safe. Dog’s are masters at reading our body language. Even subtle changes like breathing patterns and raised eye brows are often noticed by dogs. Be aware of what you are saying with your tone and body to be sure it’s not confusing the dog. If your dog is not correctly responding to what you ask, check to make sure your body language and tone aren’t asking for something different (or indicating a bad mood that could make the dog hesitant to respond.)
Train, train, train: Dogs do not come with “good behaviour” naturally. In fact, most behaviour that DOES come naturally to a dog is in direct contradiction with what we want. By looking for and rewarding the desired behaviours, and redirecting unwanted behaviours into ones we can reward, you will be teaching your dog what you like and expect. Just as with raising a small child, teaching dogs what will make you happy and what will upset you is a 24 hour/ 7 days a week job! Dogs and children are always learning. You need to make a decision to be sure they are learning what you want them to learn.
Love your dog: It is very easy to get frustrated, when this happens, take a moment to take a deep breath, then assess the situation. What can you do to prevent it? What should you have done to prevent it? What alternative behaviour can you try to get the dog to do so you can reward it? Is it a natural behaviour the dog needs an outlet for? Is anyone else allowing the dog to practice the unwanted behaviour? Can you use the situation to teach the dog self-control? Does the dog need more exercise? Would the dog be doing this behaviour if he was tired? Are your desires being communicated clearly to the dog? When you answer these questions, it is likely that you will have something to work with. You’ll have behaviour (or more than one) you can watch for and reward. You will understand how to prevent the unwanted and reward the good dog.
If you are unsure how this advice applies to your case please discuss this with your trainer:
Miranda Sasse firstname.lastname@example.org 07958522732