Training Procedures
To understand dog training, it is necessary to have some basic knowledge of how dogs think, learn, and behave. A dog decides whether or not he is going to repeat a behaviour by the direct consequences of that behaviour. If a behaviour brings a reward, either from you or the environment, the behaviour is likely to be repeated. Similarly, if a behaviour brings about an unpleasant consequence, chances are good that the dog will not repeat the behaviour.
Encouraging good behaviour
Your dog was not born with manners. He does not know what humans consider to be acceptable behaviour. He does not purposely misbehave, he simply does not know the rules. If you want to train him to learn what you ask of him, it is up to you to supervise, guide, and teach him so he learns what is acceptable and what is not in his new home. Just as your dog does not purposely misbehave, he also does not know that he is doing something you like unless you tell him. The best way to tell him, and therefore establish good behaviour in your dog is to associate the behaviour you like with rewards. He then learns it is in his best interest to repeat a good behaviour. A reward is anything your dog finds enjoyable, such as praise, petting, food, play, a toy, ride in the car, etc. Reward based training is an enjoyable motivating way for you and your dog to learn.
Catch your dog doing the right things
The most fundamental way to teach your dog good behaviour is to simply wait until he does something you like and reward him. ie: greeting you without jumping, licking instead of nipping. Timing is everything. Make sure you give a reward the instant your dog does something good (within 3 seconds). You will teach plenty of good behaviours in dog class, such as sit, down, wait, and so on. Incorporate these in to your dog’s daily routine, and reward the activity’s your dog does right. If your dog wants you to play with him, practice sit and down. If your dog wants to say hello to your neighbour’s children, require him to sit politely for petting and then practice this at home. Include the whole family in your dogs training. It is very important to keep your training sessions short, 5-10 minutes.
Discouraging unwanted behaviour
Realize that rewards don’t come JUST from you. Your dog can seek out his own rewards from a variety of sources: interesting smells in the clothes hamper, food left unattended on the table, used tissue, and so on. If your dog discovers these rewards, he is likely to repeat the same behaviour like digging in the hamper, stealing food or raiding the bathroom. Remember each time a behaviour is rewarded by you or your environment (meaning that you control your dogs environment), so that your dog does not have the freedom to seek out his own rewards. Even with your best efforts your dog will still misbehave while in the learning and training process. There are various ways to convey to your dog that he has done something wrong. Try verbal reprimands like “enough,” “eh-eh,” “hey,” etc.
Your reprimand should be without emotion or a display of anger, but it should be said in such a way that it captures your dogs attention. A short, sharp sound is best. It need not be shouted or screamed, in fact the less you yell at your dog the better. When you discover your dog mis-behaving, reprimand your dog immediately and remove him from the situation. Redirect him to another activity. Once your dog learns the significance of the reprimand, you will not need to physically remove him, he will come away by himself. Do not use your dogs name as a reprimand. Your dog should always associate his name with good things.
General advise on training
Consistency is extremely important for your dog to understand and learn your rules. The rules must be clear and unchanged. Once a rule is established, it must be enforced consistently by everyone in the family. You must not permit your dog to misbehave one minute and punish it the next. For example; don’t allow him on the sofa normally and then not when you have guests in the home. This is inconsistent, unfair, and will confuse your dog. It will also give him a lack of confidence in what he has learned. Rules should be clear-cut in black and white, with no grey areas in between. If you give your dog lots of feedback for his behaviour, relying primary on positive reinforcement and just occasionally on punishment, you will win your dogs trust and build confidence in him.
Timing is everything when you are training your dog. Dogs live in the present, they connect good and bad things with what they are doing at that moment. You must catch your dog in the act. Whether it is a good behaviour or bad, and reward or reprimand at that moment (within 3 seconds), or you have lost his association with the action. After the fact reprimands and punishments are useless, and will only teach your confused dog to distrust and fear you. A common misconception is that you can scold your dog for soiling the house after it happened, provided you show him what he did. He can’t make the connection with what he did even after a minute.
If you are able to catch your dog soiling, startle him with your reprimand to interrupt him right in the middle. Then take him outside and wait for him to finish, then reward him for a job well done. Because it is so important to catch your dog doing good and bad behaviours, your dog should always be under your supervision. He should be in the same room with you. This way you can immediately react to good or bad behaviour at the very moment it occurs. If you are in the kitchen and he is in the bedroom tearing up a pillow, you have taught him that chewing up pillows is okay when you are not around. If your dog does not naturally follow you from room to room, you may need to put up gates or close doors for a while to keep your dog with you. When you are not home, or not able to pay attention to your dog, he should be crated. The crate serves as a babysitter when you can’t be there to watch him. When your dog is in the crate, he is safe, and your house is safe from him. He should be crated for short periods of time when you are home as well, so that crating doesn’t always mean he will be left home alone. Start with short periods of time and work up to the amount of time that will be required in the future. Never use the crate for punishment!
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