Getting a puppy or dog, in almost all instances, means that you’ll need to dedicate time to do the required training in order to have a well behaved and balanced dog.
Training to either remove unwanted behaviours, such as dog barking, or teach new behaviours is essential and a well trained dog will feel much more secure in your home when they know their boundaries. Even in the wild, a dog will have some sort of enforced boundaries of behaviour by the pack structure and hierarchy that exists. At the end of the day, your dog is part of your ‘pack’.
A very important point to note about dog training is that any form of training should be approached from the perspective of ‘positive reinforcement’. This simply means that you should reward your dog with praise, a treat or in some situations both, for any positive behaviour that they demonstrate. Success will come quickly to anybody who praises a dog for good behaviour. The same cannot be said for somebody who punishes a dog for NOT showing good behaviour.
For example – If you ask your dog to sit and they do, you give them a treat. In the dogs mind sitting when told equals a treat.
Now what if you tell the dog to sit and they don’t, and then you punish them? In the dogs mind you have just dished out a random punishment for nothing. This will only serve to confuse your dog and lead them to mistrust you.
One of the most common mistakes that dog owners make is to inadvertently train their dog……. into bad habits. A typical example is barking. Let’s take a closer look at this.
Barking – Most dogs’ bark, that’s a fact. It’s WHEN a dog barks that determines whether it’s normal behaviour or a bad habit. If your dog only barks when somebody comes to the door and quickly stops then this is normal territorial behaviour. Your dog is warning you, as a member of their pack, that there’s potential danger at the door.
If your dog spends the best part of their waking life barking at just about anything including you, then they now have formed a bad habit or an unwanted behaviour – but one that with time and dedication can be cured.
The first mistake that people make is to shout “Quiet” or “Shut up” at their barking dog. The main reason why this will not work is simple. Your dog barks, then you ‘bark’. From your perspective you are shouting at your dog to shut up. From your dogs’ perspective, you are barking along, getting stressed out and re-enforcing there is something to worry about. You are also rewarding your dog, by giving them attention at this time, for behaviour you want to stop!
A more effective method is to wait for a pause in your dogs barking then give them praise and possibly a treat too. As soon as the barking starts again, try saying ‘good job’ in a calm voice to demonstrate you don’t have a problem with what they are barking at.
If that method doesn’t work then take no notice of your dog, walk off – DO NOT pay your dog any attention. Then, when the barking stops its treat time again (or praise), it won’t be long before your dog puts two and two together.
There are lots of simple and very effective ways that you can train your dog. There’s no need to put up with bad habits or unwanted behaviour in your dog as they can with time and dedication be easily remedied. Oh, and don’t believe the phrase “You can’t teach on old dog new tricks”, you can – it’s never too late 🙂