So…you’re ready to start training and teaching some tricks to your best friend. Maybe you just got a new puppy, or you are trying to disprove the “you can’t teach an old dog new tricks” slogan. Young or old, the benefits of having a trained dog are nearly limitless and will make life for the both of you more enjoyable! You might be a seasoned pro or just learning how to train your pup for the first time — below are some helpful tips to make your next training session a positive one!
Have realistic expectations
Changing behavior takes time. You need to have realistic expectations about changing your dog’s behavior as well as how long it will take to change behaviors that you don’t like.
Listen to your dog
Learn to listen to your dog. If your dog appears to be uncomfortable meeting another dog, animal or person, don’t insist that he say hello. He’s telling you that he isn’t comfortable for a reason, and you should respect that.
Make sure all family members are on the same page. If you are telling your dog “off” when he jumps on the couch and someone else is saying “down,” while someone else is letting him hang out up there, how on earth is he ever going to learn what you want? Consistency will be the key to your success.
Be generous with your affection
Make sure you give your dog lots of attention when he’s doing the right thing. Let him know when he’s been a good boy. That’s the time to be extra generous with your attention and praise.
Take note of what your dog enjoys
Some dogs are very selective about what they like to eat. Soft and chewy treats are usually more exciting for your dog, and some like a favorite toy. Learn what his favorite treat or activity is and reward him with what he loves.
Bribery vs. Reward
The behavior should produce the treat; the treat should not produce the behavior. Every interaction you have with your dog is a learning opportunity. Reinforce him with praise, touch, games and walks when treats are not available.
Tell him what you want him to do
Instead of telling your dog “no,” tell him what you want him to do. Dogs don’t generalize well, so if your dog jumps on someone and you tell him no, he may jump in a different direction. But instead of saying “no”, you tell him to “sit” that will help to avoid confusion.