6. Don’t do too much, too soon. When training your dog, it’s important to set the stage for success. That means allowing your dog to learn and grow at a pace that’s comfortable and successful and taking your time to advance to tougher behaviors. In dog training, you’ll often hear the term, “the three D’s.” This refers to distance, duration, and distractions – all factors to consider when training your dog at an appropriate pace. Slowly increase your distance from your dog as he learns to respond to cues, slowly expect your dog to remain in position for longer duration, and gradually increase the number of distractions present during training, only advancing each of these factors once your dog has proven successful.
Teach him to come when called. Come Jasper! Good boy! Teaching him to come is the command to be mastered first and foremost. And since he'll be coming to you, your alpha status will be reinforced. Get on his level and tell him to come using his name. When he does, make a big deal using positive reinforcement. Then try it when he's busy with something interesting. You'll really see the benefits of perfecting this command early as he gets older.
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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.
In order to have a well-balanced dog, we have to teach her the house rules, and set boundaries and limitations from the get-go. The message you send your dog the moment she enters your home for the first time is critical, because it immediately establishes the ground rules in your dog’s mind. If you just let her run in the door, the message is, “Here! Everything is yours, and you can do whatever you want.”
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.
Stay is the second command to teach your dog. When he is in a sitting position, tell him “stay,” then walk a short distance. If he gets up, make him sit again and repeat the process, offering him a reward every time he obeys the command. Move further and further away each time until he stays when you are out of his sight. Be persistent and consistent until he understands the command and is willing to obey. The best hand gesture to use with this command is a flat hand turned upwards with fingers pointed up, held outwards towards the dog.
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.
Ask your dog to sit. Then say “Stay” and start backing away slowly. As you take a step back and the dog stays in a sitting position, toss it a treat. Set your standards low at first: toss the treat after one step back for several repetitions, then after two steps back, and so forth. It will probably take many, many practice sessions, but soon you will be able to walk into another room and the dog will still be sitting patiently.
In the 1950s Blanche Saunders was a staunch advocate of pet-dog training, travelling throughout the U.S. to promote obedience classes. In The Complete Book of Dog Obedience, she said, "Dogs learn by associating their act with a pleasing or displeasing result. They must be disciplined when they do wrong, but they must also be rewarded when they do right." Negative reinforcement procedures played a key part in Saunders' method, primarily the jerking of the choke chain. The mantra taught to students was "Command! Jerk! Praise!" She felt that food should not be an ongoing reward, but that it was acceptable to use "a tidbit now and then to overcome a problem." Saunders perhaps began the shift away from military and police training methods, stressing repeatedly the importance of reinforcement for good behaviour in training—a move toward the positive training methods used today.