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Strictly following the model set out in the Koehler Method of Dog Training, some 50 years later, the Koehler method continues to be taught in both class and private training formats. The method is based in the philosophy that a dog acts on its right to choose its actions. Koehler explained that a dog's learned behavior is an act of choice based on its own learning experience. When those choices are influenced by the expectation of reward, the behavior will most likely be repeated, and when those choices are influenced by the anticipation of punishment, they will most likely cease. Once the dog has learned that its choices result in comfort or discomfort it can be taught to make the correct decisions. Action→Memory→Desire encapsulates the learning pattern used by the method; the dog acts, remembers the consequences, and forms the desire to repeat or avoid those consequences. Adherents believe that once the behavior has been correctly taught, it should be performed, thus making any correction, fair, reasonable, and expected. While the model has been used consistently since 1962, some of the punishment procedures described in the book are now not considered necessary, humane, or appropriate by many trainers.
The next option is called luring. Get down in front of your puppy, holding a treat as a lure. Put the treat right in front of the pup’s nose, then slowly lift the food above his head. He will probably sit as he lifts his head to nibble at the treat. Allow him to eat the treat when his bottom touches the ground. Repeat one or two times with the food lure, then remove the food and use just your empty hand, but continue to reward the puppy after he sits. Once he understands the hand signal to sit, you can begin saying “sit” right before you give the hand signal.
Most people don’t have a problem being very clear about when they are unhappy with their dogs, but, they often ignore the good stuff. Big mistake! Make sure you give your dog lots of attention when he’s doing the right thing. Let him know when he’s been a good boy. That’s the time to be extra generous with your attention and praise. It’s even okay to be a little over the top.
4. Be consistent. Consistency is absolutely essential in training a well-behaved dog. Be clear and consistent in the rules you want your dog to follow and make sure everyone in the home follows those same rules. For example, if you don’t want your dog to beg at the dinner table, make sure no one in the home slips him food from their plate. Inconsistency is confusing for your dog.
8. Reward your dog’s successes. Because dogs generally repeat actions that are successful for them, reward-based training is a proven method for teaching the behavior you expect and desire of your dog. Although one of the most valued rewards you can give your dog is a tasty dog treat, rewards can come in the form of praise, affection, or playtime with a favorite toy, too. Just be sure your rewards are given in response to good behavior and not used as a bribe to elicit the behavior you want.
3. Learn to communicate with your dog. Although dogs don’t speak in the same way humans do, they DO communicate in a way that’s easy to understand – if you know how. Understanding your dog’s body language is absolutely essential, not only in training, but in raising a happy, healthy pup. To better understand the subtleties of your dog’s unique language, check out these fantastic illustrative books on the subject: The Dog Body Language Phrasebook and How to Speak Dog: Mastering the Art of Dog-Human Communication.
You do not necessarily need to train in a set session daily. Rather, integrate these tasks throughout the day. A goal to strive for is at least 15 minutes of training every day. These can be short 5 minute sessions spread throughout the day. Try to have all family members ask your puppy to do these tasks. Remember to try to train in every room of your house. You want your puppy to “sit,” “lie down,” and “stay” everywhere, not just in the training location. Practice in all locations you would like your puppy to behave and feel comfortable and relaxed in the future.
If he's an older dog, he's probably used to his name; however, changing it isn't out of the question. If he's from a shelter, they may neglect to tell you that he has a temporary name assigned to him by staff. If he's from a breeder, he'll come to you with a long name, which you may want to shorten, or change. And if he's coming out of an abusive situation, a new name may represent a fresh start. But we're lucky: dogs are extremely adaptable. And soon enough, if you use it consistently, he will respond to his new name.
Expect your dog to break the rules frequently in the beginning. He is not being stubborn or difficult. Dogs have a hard time generalizing, which means that something he learns in the living room will have to be learned all over again in the kitchen and again in the bedroom. It's easy to get frustrated when you feel like he should understand already, but he still doesn't. It helps to have a sense of humor. It can take 30-50 or more perfect repetitions before a dog truly "gets" a command.
Some dogs are fearful and when they are exposed to frightening situations, they need to have your reassurance that everything is going to be okay. Gradual exposure to new situations is the best approach. If your dog is afraid of loud noises, start with moderate situations, staying right beside your pet, and increase the exposure giving lots of affection and reassurance, but don’t stress your dog unnecessarily. Overexposure to fearful situations can lead to phobias. Dogs become phobic when they are left alone, victimized by abusive humans or other animals, or neglected by their owners. Giving them reassurance and the best possible care with lots of love and attention increases the odds of having a well adjusted dog.
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With Professor Donaldson by your side providing invaluable insights, these step-by-step, field tested training plans will teach you how to become a competent trainer, able to teach any dog—young or old, of any breed or variety—basic obedience, troubleshoot training problems, solve common behavior problems, and more accurately interpret behavior. Once you and your dog have finished this course, you’ll each have a better understanding of and a stronger relationship with your best friend.
5. Teach your dog to have good manners. Appropriate behavior from your dog is important, not just for keeping order at home, but for the safety, comfort, and life of other people and animals you may encounter outside the home. Training your dog not to bark excessively, jump on visitors, chase animals, drag you down the street during walks, and similar unwelcomed behaviors are just as important as training fun tricks at home.
Begin teaching your dog good manners a few days after he’s had a chance to settle into the household. Keep your training lessons short—about 10 to 15 minutes at each session. You can repeat the session later on in the same day, but each one should be brief. Plan to engage in several training sessions a day because no puppy learns to do something perfectly in only one take.