Pet training is all about building a strong relationship. To your dog, you are the pack leader and the center of their universe. With patience and love, your fur baby can be the envy of the dog park.
Even Sara Carson’s Super Collies from “America’s Got Talent” were once rambunctious puppies; training a dog takes a lot of time and works much better when you have a plan. Your dog wants to make you happy; they are incredibly sensitive to our emotions, so don’t get frustrated or yell. The simple reward of “good boy” or “good girl” lets them know they are loved and makes training fun. Add a treat and they’ll be blissed.
Start With the Basics
Techniques used to train service dogs provide a great foundation. The Seeing Eye dog foundation starts with simple commands such as sit, stay, and come, using the dog’s name, hand signals, and verbal praise. Another important command is “wait” or “hold.” Not all dogs can do tricks like Carson’s Super Collies, and that’s OK. The Animal Health Foundation says pets alleviate depression, reduce stress, and lower blood pressure; a dog snuggled next to you providing unconditional love is the best trick of all.
Dogs crave the structure of a pack and your approval as the pack leader. When working on new commands or just relaxing, make eye contact while speaking to them, rewarding good behavior affectionately. During training and play sessions, make sure they don’t physically overdo it; sudden lethargy, an unusual yelp, or a limp could all be a sign something is amiss. They may not be able to talk, but if you pay attention, you’ll realize they are communicating with you.
Treats are an excellent reward for good behavior, but need to be used judiciously; a tubby dog is a sign you are giving too many treats! Ask your veterinarian for food and treat suggestions, and always read the ingredients and country of origin; beef-based treats from the United States or South American countries tend to be safe. Many dogs love apples, broccoli, and carrots. Treats can also come in the form of a favorite activity such as “walkies” or a “goforride.”
Eliminate Bad Habits
Barking at other dogs or strangers, pulling on the leash, and chewing on objects are normal, so don’t get upset. To correct excessive barking or tugging on the leash when out for a walk, react with a gentle pull on the leash and a “hush” and “sit” command. A pocket full of treats can greatly expedite the learning phase. If the dog chews on furniture, it may be bored, so give it a new toy and apply a “no-chew” spray found at most pet stores.