Let’s Start off on the Right Foot
There is a reason dogs were named as man’s best friend. Their loyalty and devotion coupled with a sincere desire to please gives them the right to be considered (by most) as part of the family. Coming home to that joyful welcome is enough to warm even the coldest of hearts.
But if you happen to own a dog everyone considers to be the neighborhood terror, or maybe your dog is one who delights in chewing up anything not nailed down, this kind of behavior will put more stress on your relationship than is necessary. There are alternatives to you being forced to live with your bad boy. You can learn to turn even the most resistant of dogs to a dog that is tripping all over itself to earn your praise. Let’s start with the basics.
First, don’t be a bore. Your dog has a limited attention span. Even if you think your little Fluffy is part human, you have to remember that no matter how much you hate to admit it, your dog is not a person dressed up in a little furry suit. Even some human beings can’t hold onto a thought for more than a nanosecond.
Sure, when you begin a training session you have his undivided attention. That is, of course, until something more interesting distracts him from what you consider to be the task at hand.
Sit back for a moment and try to put yourself into your dog’s shoes. Imagine how frustrating it must be to have to undergo a lengthy training session after all interest had been lost. I know I have been bored to the point of napping even during subjects that I find fascinating.
Fortunately, you will notice that as time passes and his training furthers along, his attention span does grow in kind, but remember, never push him past his comfort point. This is supposed to be fun for both you and him.
Next, be consistent. It is not good to give your pet permission to do something today and then tomorrow make it off limits. Dogs see things in a very a black or white perspective (either he is allowed to do something or he is not.) Being wishy-washy about what he is permitted to do is just not fair (see my article on the trainer’s pledge ) and causes confusion in your dog.
Also, keep that consistent attitude of playfulness and fun. If you consider training a chore, so will your dog and don’t think you can fool him. Honesty is one attribute any dog can recognize and can likewise spot insincerity a mile away.
Remember to always break down your commands into very short steps when training a new command. Overloading your dog with instructions will accomplish nothing, except turn him off completely to the whole idea of training. If you let that happen, it is going to take some work to convince him otherwise.
And of course, learn positive reinforcement training. This site is loaded with training ideas and suggestions to help. Especially make sure you read my article on operant conditioning before you take on the task of being a trainer. Trying to go it alone without any education surely could mean that you will not reap the fruits of your labor.
Dog Training is not as difficult as you may think. With the above steps in mind and a little studying on your part, you are off on a wonderful adventure.
Remember; be considerate, be consistent, and have fun.
Please let me repeat myself. Read my “Trainers Pledge” found on this site and memorize it. You will need it.