FAQs about Dog Training:
Is my dog too old to train?
The oldest dog we’ve had in class was 13 years old, and she was a star! When we grow in our understanding of how dogs think and learn, we realize just how much we can communicate with them. Understanding their body language and our role as their guide and protector in our human world makes it possible to help change undesirable behavior patterns at any age.
Is it okay if my dog sleeps in my bed? Does that mean he’s really spoiled?
Your bed is a very desirable/prime sleeping spot. While teaching a young dog the rules of the house, I keep the bed off limits. He sleeps in a dog crate next to the bed. He learns he can come up on MY bed when he’s invited by me and gets off MY bed when I say so. The bed is an earned privilege, not a right.
I know my dog “knows” he’s been bad when I’m gone because he greets me at the door with a guilty look! How can I “break” him from chewing up my stuff when I’m gone?
I love this question! Since we have about one second between your dog’s action and his understanding of the consequence – check out what he’s responding to when you come home with a look of horror on your face! It’s YOU! Management is the key here! Leave him in a puppy proof place. Limit his access to the whole house. A small “puppy proof” area such as a kitchen or laundry room works. Leave the radio on to create a bit of “white noise." And leave him several safe chew toys to help him occupy his time until you return. A good long walk before confinement will help to tire him out so that he is less inclined to entertain himself.
How do I “break” my dog from barking outside all day or all night?
Management is the key here! Here is where your great owner skills come into play. How about a big exercise session before you leave for work and then keep her inside, in her safe and dog friendly environment - kitchen or laundry room with chew toys and interactive doggy toys. Keep the radio on so that there is a constant low level of noise. It makes those noises outside less noticeable. Come home for lunch to let your dog out and play with him for a few minutes. Or have a friend/neighbor come over and get him out for a while.
I think the term “break” really doesn’t apply to our current methods of dog training or our current philosophy with regard to other animal species used by us for a wealth of reasons or jobs. New training methods along with extensive research on animal learning and behavior, provides us with the opportunity to strengthen the bond with our animal companions without the need to use excessive force or coercion. A relationship based on mutual trust and teamwork will allow that bond to unfold into something quite special. It’s a privilege as well as a responsibility to care for an animal species. We are not born knowing how to do that. It’s up to us to educate ourselves and take on that responsibility.
How do I stop him from chewing my child’s toys and stuffed animals?
Management is the key here! Close the door! Limit access to areas that are unsupervised. If he does get hold of something on the “not allowed” list, a loud clap/or noise might work to stop him in his tracks and then you can remove the object. Your job will be to redirect his attention to his own very desirable toy, and once he’s settled in on it say good boy! Also, find every opportunity to catch him doing the right thing. When he finds his own chew toy, all by himself and settles down for a good quite rest time, tell him what a good boy he is! You are reinforcing the behavior you want most! Now, that’s good management!
How do I stop him from begging at the table?
That one is easy! Don’t feed him there! Either put him in his crate during dinner or teach him to go to his place and settle down while you are eating.
Is my new puppy too young to train?
NO, start now!!! Your new puppy is like a fresh canvas for a painter. You can almost “paint” the puppy of your choice with early training and socialization. Check with your veterinarian about his vaccination schedule and enroll him in the earliest puppy class available. That early intervention/prevention will go a long way toward starting your puppy with a minimum of problems.
We used to think that a puppy shouldn’t be trained until he is at least six months old. That’s because the training techniques of the “old days” involved precisely given correction for being wrong. That old type of training was effective but it did not address building a solid and trusting relationship. Those techniques were based on performance dogs such as hunting and field dogs and competition obedience dogs.
The training that we incorporate now using positive reinforcement and teaching young puppies has evolved from years and years of research and dedication on the part of many specialized educators. From veterinarians, animal behavior specialists, physiologists, psychologists, and trainers in general, we have all begun to come together to help people train and live happily with the family dog. That’s where it all starts! Management, relationship building, teaching and training!
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