This is a great article from VetStreet about important commands your dog should know – even if you never have your dog off-leash. What if your pup gets out? Or panics and runs outside because of loud fireworks or an emergency vehicle on your street?
However, how do you teach your dog these commands? There are a few crucial points to remember when training your pup:
- Find out what motivates your dog. Food? A favorite toy? Your affection?
- Use it to your advantage. Give the reward at the EXACT moment the proper behavior is demonstrated.
Here are some examples of how to curb common misbehaviors.
Jumping up. If you don’t want your dog to jump on you or other people, don’t pet him when he does it and don’t allow strangers to pet your dog when they are demonstrating undesirable behaviors. There’s also no need to punish your dog for jumping. Simply take a step back to where your pup’s paws fall on the floor, and tell your dog “down”. As soon as all 4 paws are on the floor, give your pup tons of affection. If the paws come back up, repeat the process. Your pup will soon learn that all 4 paws on the floor mean love and affection from you. Remember to ask strangers to do the same and you will have a very well mannered pooch.
Come. If your pup is food motivated this becomes much easier. Walk with treats in your pocket. Call your dog. Give a treat. Repeat. Squeaky toys work well for dogs that may be play or affection motivated. When your pup returns to you, give the toy. Remember, never chase your dog. You will typically have much better success rewarding your pup for returning to you. Dogs love to be chased, don’t make it a game. Because then…who’s training who???
With all training it is imperative to remember that timing is the most crucial factor. The reward must be given at the exact moment the behavior is demonstrated. Otherwise the signals are confusing. Your pup looks to you for approval and leadership. Remember, you are your pup’s sun, moon and stars. All they want is your love and approval. Ignore bad behaviors, any attention from you is positive reinforcement for whatever they are doing (pooping on the rug, chewing your shoes, counter surfing, etc) and if it gains attention from you, they will take negative attention over being ignored. Yes, they know you are angry with them but they will take anything they can get. Remember to give your pup lots of love and affection when they are not asking for it. This will reinforce calm, confident behavior in your pup and help you both to live a happy life together.