|Training: A daily ritual that lets
your dog know what is acceptable
& appreciated & what is NOT
acceptable and not appreciated.
|NO! Down Boy!
|Dog training is really very simple! Just REWARD the dog when he does something you
like. IGNORE the dog when he is doing something you don't care about either way. And
CORRECT the dog when he does something you don't like. Ah...but the secret really lies in
understanding what rewards & corrections are!
Petting your dog is a reward. Praising your dog with kind words
is a reward. Food is obviously also a reward... toys/play time..
YES definately a reward!
But did you know...
Picking your dog up can be a reward. Scolding your dog can
sometimes be a reward.
Letting your dog in the house can be a reward. Letting your dog
outside can be a reward.
Actually, ANYTHING that gives your dog pleasure or enables
him to be in your company can be seen as a reward!!!
No wonder dogs misbehave.. we think we are telling them not to
do something & they think,
"hey great! Mom is spending more time with me!!"
Scolding your dog in a low firm voice, spanking
your dog, putting your dog in another room, NOT
touching your dog, ignoring your dog, giving a
sharp tug on the leash, blocking your dog from
doing a behaviour, making a loud noise... these can
all be corrections.
Basically anything that you do that your dog would
rather you NOT do can be a correction.
|So, if Fido is barking at your visitors & you yell at him & he doesn't stop (he may think you are joining him in
barking the visitors - opps thats a reward!), so you try to spank him but he dances out of your way still barking
(now he thinks you are playing - opps that's a reward) and you finally out of frustration trap him and pick him
up (yea! mom's holding me - another reward) and put him in another room (where he continues to bark but at
least it is muffled) have you achieved your goal of him being social & quiet when you have visitors over???
No, it is pretty obvious that nothing was achieved except Fido got a lot of rewards, your blood pressure was
raised & your visitor may never be back... hmmmm.... just might be useful when unwanted guests arrive???
Easy enough to point out what you shouldn't do... but in the above scenerio, what SHOULD you do???
Prevention & positive intervention are usually the best. Step one. Teach Fido some words. Useful words for
Fido to know: Sit. Stay. Come. Drop (or Down), Back & Go to your bed. Once Fido knows these words
& will usually do them when you ask, then proceed to step two.
Step two. Don't wait until guests actually arrive. Ask a friend to help you train Fido before guests arrive.
Have your friend knock on the door. Fido barks. You let him have 3 barks, then you say, Good Boy &
shove a treat in his mouth. Fasten his leash to his collar & HOLD the leash. Say "JUST A MINUTE" to your
friend & tell Fido to sit & stay about 5 feet away from the door. (make sure you can get to the door & open it
without letting go of his leash) Pop another treat in his mouth or praise him with petting and quiet words.
(don't use a toy or play as a reward for this one... we want Fido relaxed, not hyped)
Now with Fido sitting (or laying down) quietly, open the door for your friend. If Fido gets up or barks, then
close the door on your friend & without saying a word to Fido use the leash to position him back where he
was and say "stay" again. (no treat or good boy this time & do NOT touch him with your hands!)
Then try opening the door again. repeat step two until you can open the door & your friend can come in &
Fido stays where you put him without barking. If Fido is really clever & stays put AND barks then try having
him stay laying down. If he STILL barks, then treat it as if he got up & use the leash with a sharp sideways tug
as a correction. Don't say anything... just correct. If he stops barking the second you turn around to correct
him, then go to him and do the correction anyway. He has to understand that he will get corrected if he barks
even if he shuts up when you look at him.
Step 3. After your friend is in, let them proceed you into your family room (or wherever you entertain) and
you follow with Fido following you. When you sit down to talk, have Fido be on his bed & stay there.
Correct with the leash as often as you need to. Make sure you do not let go of the leash until Fido has proved
to be dependable.
Don't stop with just one friend. Let all your guests know ahead of time that you are training Fido & to please
be patient with you. Don't loose your cool or get impatient or frustrated. Dogs don't learn from angry,
frustrated or mean handlers. You must be matter of fact & sort of detached when making corrections &
quietly pleased when rewarding.
Many trainers train with all positive reinforcement. I am a HUGE supporter of positive reinforcement to teach
a dog. Please use positive rewards to teach Fido his basic commands, sit, stay, down, come, heel & go to
your bed. Once he knows the commands & will do them on request, then and only then, can you use a
correction when he fails to execute a direct order.
As a rescuer I get calls daily from people that want to give up their dog for behavioural issues... issues that can
be corrected with unpleasant, but not hurtful or mean corrections. I would rather see a dog have some
unpleasant moments & get to stay with his family, than to end up in the shelter wondering why he was
abandoned by the people he loved & was trying to protect.
Dogs that bark at visitors feel that they are in charge of deciding who stays & who goes. Taking control over
this will let your dog know that you are the one that makes those decisions & will prevent him from escalating
the behaviour into biting guest that don't take the hint & leave.