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. Often behaviors which are “normal” doggie behaviors will take the most time such as barking, digging and jumping. You also need to consider how long your dog has rehearsed the behavior. For example, if you didn’t mind that your dog jumped up on people to say hi for the last seven years and now you decide that you don’t want him to do that anymore, that behavior will take a much longer time to undo than if you had addressed it when he was a pup. Remember it’s never too late to change the behavior some will just take longer than others.
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Even after puppy proofing, it's a good idea to not leave him unsupervised in the house until he has learned what is off limits. That way he won't have the chance to develop any bad habits while you're not looking! You'll also avoid having to buy all new shoes because he chewed up one from each pair. If your dog destroys something that is valuable to you, it is your fault for making it available to him. Dogs have no concept of how much something costs, and they don't chew things to spite you. They do it because it is fun. Dogs also chew to relieve stress, so a dog who normally doesn't chew things may do so when under stress. Make available appropriate chew toys and keep items you don't want chewed out of reach!
Examine the difference between tricks and obedience. Explore why teaching tricks can be beneficial to your dog as you work through three types of trick training: non-transitive or simple actions, transitive, and behavior chains. By using the foundation of obedience training you've already established, you can teach old (and young) dogs new tricks. x
It’s a good idea to give him some small treats as rewards for training. You can use soft commercial food treats sized for puppies, pieces of string cheese, or small pieces of cut-up hot dog that he can swallow right away. Avoid hard, crunchy treats because they take a while to chew. Give treats to your puppy immediately—within half a second of him completing the desired behavior. The faster you confirm the behavior you want, the easier it is for your puppy to understand what you’re trying to teach him. When you give the reward, follow it up by saying “Good boy!”
Training a dog to sit, lie down, stay, and come when called make your job as a pet parent easier, but they can also make your dog’s life better and safer. Knowing these commands can help you protect your dog from dangerous situations, and in some cases, save his life. Once you’ve learned how to properly teach your dog, training will be a fun and useful activity for you both.
In addition, over the past year, we have had great success integrating remote collars into our training program. These collars use very low-level electrical impulses (usually lower than a human can feel in their own hand,) in conjunction with commands to reinforce understanding and bring your dog to on and off-leash reliability, while adjusting unwanted behavior in less time and with much less stress than ever before.
Teaching your dog the difference between what is his and what is yours takes a long time to accomplish, but hang in there, he’ll eventually come to know what he can have and what he can’t. It’s important to supply your pet with plenty of toys and chew bones that are his. Giving him his own bed is also a good idea. If he has these things, he’ll be easier to train. Play with him and reinforce the fact that the toys are his by asking him, “is this yours?” Then tell him, this is yours or this is Fido’s (using his name). Having his own toys and chew bones will lessen the odds of him becoming bored and going after your possessions to chew and slobber on.
The most important concepts in dog training are positive reinforcement, repetition, and patience. You didn’t learn the alphabet in a day; it would be unfair to expect your dog to remember every command perfectly after only a few tries. End your training sessions before the dog starts getting bored or frustrated, and try again another time, and have fun! If you stay calm and positive, the dog will pick up on your attitude and learn faster.
Even if your dog is older, curiosity can get the better of him. Make sure your home is a safe place for him by putting yourself in his paws. Crawl around on the floor and check out any potential dangers. Electrical cords, poisonous houseplants, and any item small enough to swallow are just a few of the things that should be out of his reach. Veterinarians perform more surgeries to remove strange objects that a dog has swallowed than for anything else.
Dr. Laura Sharkey, KPA CTP, has owned and led WOOFS! since 2002. An accomplished, certified professional dog trainer, Laura regularly presents to her peers at professional training conferences across the country. Her strong science background—including a Ph.D. in Molecular Biology from Georgetown—informs her choice of the modern, humane, rewards-based training methods used at WOOFS!
Gun dog training can be particularly difficult, but this rapid training method by avid hunters and gun dog owners Wolters and Randolph has proven effective for over forty years, and has been a part of most current gun dog owners' libraries. Published over 50 years ago in 1961, this gun dog training book remains relevant today and offers some proven techniques and step-by-step instructions on training a gun dog using supplementary tools.
Training should begin in a quiet environment with few distractions. The chosen reward should be highly motivating so that the puppy focuses entirely on the trainer and the reward. Although a small food treat generally works best, a favorite toy or a special dog treat might be more appealing. It might also be helpful to train the puppy just before a scheduled mealtime when it is at its hungriest. For difficult or headstrong puppies, the best way to ensure that the puppy will perform the desired behavior and respond appropriately to the command is to leave a leash attached and to use a head collar for additional control. In this way, you can prompt the puppy into the correct response if it does not immediately obey, and the pressure can be released as soon as the desired response is achieved.
Dogs like having a routine. A dog who has spent the last few weeks or more in a shelter or rescue may have been stressed out in part because his life had become so unpredictable. By establishing a routine for feeding, walking, playtime and bedtime, you can begin providing some stability for your dog. In most cases, this will help with his adjustment to his new home.
Treat your shelter dog the same way you would a new puppy coming into your house. Assume he has never had any training. Even if he has had obedience training in the past, he may need a refresher after all he's been through. Your best bet is to expect that he knows nothing. This way you'll be pleasantly surprised if the dog already knows some basic commands or is already housebroken, but you won't be setting him up for failure with expectations that are too high. Be sure to train your new dog using positive reinforcement. Keep training sessions upbeat and low-stress.
Laying a solid training foundation will make life with your dog easier and more fun. If you’re not sure where to start, sign up for an in-person obedience class; there’s no better way to train your dog than to practice with an expert IRL. You can also follow any of the helpful links above, and check out our blog archives for additional tips and tricks.
To train your dog to come when called, start on leash in a quiet area. Back away from your dog while enthusiastically telling her to “come!” Only give the command once, but be enthusiastic, and keep your body language relaxed and open. You can show your dog a treat to encourage her to head your way. Once she starts towards you, say “yes!” (or click) and reward her with a treat.
First, teach the release word. Choose which word you will use, such as “OK” or “free.” Stand with your puppy in a sit or a stand, toss a treat on the floor, and say your word as he steps forward to get the treat. Repeat this a couple of times until you can say the word first and then toss the treat AFTER he begins to move. This teaches the dog that the release cue means to move your feet.