Training and Socialising
Your training program will be much smoother if you consider a few basic things. First of all, your dog will have to learn a whole new language – Yours!
So, use short, simple words such as “No” – “Sit” – “Come” etc, praising and rewarding the dog when the behaviour is what you want and giving gentle correction when it is not. That is the basic formula of all training procedures.
Apply it with patience, persistence, consistency and kindness – you’ll be amazed and pleased with the results.
Always use a kind but firm voice when you are training your dog.
Practise your commands (simple words such as “No” – “Sit” – “Come”) without being too loud and too harsh – remember that your dog has hearing seven times more acute than your own! Always use the same command for the same thing – saying “No” and then “Stop that” or “Don’t do that” will confuse the dog.
You need to use discipline properly.
We’ve mentioned ’discipline‘, ’praising‘ and using words like “No” etc. The trick to training is to make it clear to your dog – immediately – what is ’good behaviour‘ and what is ’bad behaviour‘. Do this with the same words and a consistent tone of voice.
Use the 1-5 second rule.
Your words and actions must be within one and five seconds, whether you are praising or reprimanding your dog. Dogs have no concept of the past or the future. Most importantly, they must be consistent. Don’t nag your dog constantly. If the dog is ’in the way‘, let the dog go outside for a while. Dogs will display ’dog type‘ behaviours, such as play fighting, chasing and jumping around, some barking, yipping and other vocalisations. A dog is a dog – not a human being.
Never call your dog to you to discipline it.
The dog must always associate coming on command with a reward, even if that reward is simply a pat. When it comes to you it must be praised for doing so. Later on when you are doing some obedience training or calling your dog in the park, you will be rewarded with a dog that comes easily and quickly, anticipating the kind words and pats it will receive when it gets there.
Professional Obedience Training
It’s important that your dog has a degree of obedience training so it will respond to you as its owner and be a well-behaved and social member of your family.
Dogs learn the most about social behaviour between the ages of 6 and 16 weeks. This window of opportunity never reappears so take full advantage of it by introducing the dog to a variety of people, animals and environments.
The best and most inexpensive type of tuition for you and your dog is to join one of the many dog obedience clubs in the state. Dogs can attain a remarkable level of training at your local community obedience dog club.
If your new dog is a puppy, then you’ll be able to teach your dog proper behaviour as a youngster. But if you take an adult dog into your family, it’s good to remember, “You can teach old dogs new tricks”. The vast majority of dogs at these clubs are no longer puppies; many are a few years old. Dogs of any age can learn new exercises. However, if you do acquire a puppy, it’s recommended that you start training as soon as possible – this is usually after the puppy has completed its course of vaccinations.
Puppies are encouraged to socialise with other dogs and people to develop their sense of confidence and to help them mature into well-adjusted dogs that are neither aggressive nor shy.
Hold a small piece of food just above the dog's head/nose slowly moving it backwards so that he is obliged to look up and back into the sit position (If the dog has to jump up to get the reward you are holding it too high). Once the dog is in position give him his reward and the command "sit".
Dogs taught to sit with food will also sit when there is no food available once the command is understood. This is a desirable method because your dog does not feel confusedor physically threatened.
Before teaching your dog to heel it is important that you have an appropriate walking collar head halter or harness that is fitted properly to your dog. Your dog may grow through several sizes of walking gear so ensure it is always wearing the correct one.
Normally dogs are walked on your left side with the lead held in your right hand. The correct position for dog is with its head/shoulder in line with your left leg. The should be slack enough to make the letter "J" from your right hand to the dogs collarwith left hand (dog side) free. You can hold a toy or food in your left hand just in front of the dogs nose to keep it's attention rewarding it when it is in the correct place. Begin practicing where there are no distractions. Whilst training the dog do not try to walk too many steps otherwise you are setting the dog up to fail. A few steps and a reward is more motivating and makes it easier for the dog to learn. Walk a couple of steps forward with the dog in the correct position stop and reward the dog with either praise or food or his toy. As soon as the dog walks out in front of you slow down dramatically so that the dog has slow down or stop. Once it is back in the correct place you can continue walking. The dog will learn that if it walks out in front of your leg the lead tightens and it has to slow down or stop but when it is in the correct position the lead slackens off and the walk can continue.
If your dog is unsure of itself and lags behind, it should be encouraged with praise to come forward. The use of food to show the dog the correct position can work very well. Your dog will be less likely to forge ahead or lag behind if you make yourself attractive with a reward. Dogs repeat behaviour that they find successful. To use food effectively, only reward your dog when it is in the correct position.
Rewarding your dog - Hold a couple of dog treats in your left hand held loosely by your side. Every few minutes while walking give one to your dog when it is in the correct position.
All training sessions must be short - no longer than 5 or 10 minutes (less with a young puppy). Quality time is far more valuable than long ineffective training sessions that are boring and tiring for both you and your dog. All training sessions should end with play as a reward for work well done.
What are good house manners?
The first all-important lesson in good house manners is house training. Teach your dog not to go to the toilet inside the house. This involves conditioning your dog to control its bowels and bladder and to communicate to you that it needs to be let outside to relieve itself. This takes time, but once taught is seldom forgotten.
House training adult dogs is similar to training puppies. Obviously, small puppies need to relieve themselves more often, but as they mature they will learn control.
Dogs prefer to relieve themselves outside, so if possible, ensure that your dog can get out. For example, have a doggy door installed.
Routine is the key to quick house training and, in fact, to most training. When your puppy wakes up, it needs to relieve itself straight away. After your puppy eats, it opens its bowels, usually within 10 minutes. The ’paper training‘ trick does not always work – most puppies simply rip up the paper in a game and then relieve themselves on the floor. Also, this method teaches your puppy to relieve itself in the house – albeit on paper. This is not what we want! Your pup may learn to only relieve itself on newspaper – even if someone is reading it!
The best and easiest thing to do is to take your pup outside immediately after it wakes up, again after it eats and immediately after play. Give your puppy plenty of praise when it is successful. Spend a moment reinforcing that it has done something good before you take it back into the house.
If your pup makes a pile or a puddle, never rub its nose in it – it can smell much better than you can and will know exactly what it is and who did it! Never wake your pup to show it old news; your pup will not make the proper association between the behaviour and your displeasure. If you see your puppy going to the toilet inside, say “no”, pick it up and carry it outside. Then, as soon as you and the still excreting puppy are outside, say “good dog” so it learns that inside is bad and outside is good.
A dog’s bed is its castle.
Your dog should have a place that is its own where it can rest away from your family. This area should contain its bed and a water bowl close by. If you decide that your dog will sleep in the house, select a spot out of the line of family traffic. Let your dog know that this is its own area. The area might be part of the laundry for instance, because it is easily cleaned if there are any accidents. Alternatively, a dog run with a kennel and washable bedding should be provided in a shaded and sheltered spot close to your house. If you have a ’home beautiful‘ style garden, this strategy will also keep your garden safe from unwanted ’gardening‘ of the dog variety! Puppies, and even some grown dogs, sometimes love to play at digging, hose chewing and so on.
Dogs that are confined to runs can become bored very quickly, so remember to give your dog company, exercise and plenty of things to do.
Dogs that dig.
Your dog will dig holes for a variety of reasons. It can be bored, it may do it for exercise, or if the weather is very hot it will dig in order to lie in the cool ground. Again, a fenced dog run confines the problem. Tricks to try include burying crumpled up chicken wire, burying your dog’s faeces in the hole, cementing the run and, as odd as it sounds, reprimanding the hole seems to be effective.
Firstly, don’t let the barking become a habit! Show your displeasure with a firm “No”. Barking can be the result of boredom. If your dog barks when it is outside, then the answer can be to bring it inside. Allow your dog to sleep inside the house or try playing a radio to keep your dog company to reduce barking at night. Tying your dog up is a poor solution. It can be dangerous and your dog, through frustration at being tethered, will often bark continuously. Sometimes simple measures like feeding the main meal in the morning or providing toys will help to keep your dog occupied. Increased exercise may help your dog expend its energy in a non-vocal way. For a persistent problem, your local council or vet will be able to help with behavioural advice.
People furniture and dog furniture.
You do not try to share your dog’s bed; so don’t let your dog share yours! This goes for the lounge room furniture too! This habit is impossible to stop later – so if you allow furniture sharing when you first get a dog, you will have to live with the behaviour for the rest of the dog’s life. Similarly, the garbage and wastepaper bins need to be off limits. Be kind, but consistently reprimand your dog every time it attempts these behaviours. Praise good behaviour.
Don’t let your dog become a thief.
Some dogs are worse felons than others. Teach your dog not to take things from the table or similar. Reprimand when your dog takes something and praise when your dog leaves things alone. Never feed your dog from the table while you are eating or preparing food.
No one likes to be 'walked on'.
People list being jumped up on as one of the things they dislike most about other people’s dogs. It can be very annoying for you and strongly resented by your guests. When your dog has all four paws on the ground, reward it with a pat and a “good dog”. If your dog tries to jump up, gently raise your knee towards the dog’s chest as it rears up, or reprimand with a severe “No”. Your dog must learn to come quietly to greet you or your guests in an acceptable manner.
What about chewing?
Your puppy will be teething for many months. Even at an early age your puppy can chew and destroy many of your prized possessions. Make sure your puppy, or older dog, has things it is allowed to chew, such as hard rubber balls, squeaky toys or rawhides.
Confine your puppy to where you are – don’t let it have the run of the house. That way you can keep an eye on it and make sure that it doesn’t start to chew the furniture or curtains.
Don’t let your dog get a taste for leather! This is an extremely hard habit to break later on. So don’t ever give your dog an old shoe to chew. In all fairness, a dog will not know the difference between an old shoe and a new one. If you teach your dog that it is okay to chew shoes, do not complain when the dog chews up a pair of your good ones. Even old thongs are risky – teach your dog from the start that your things are not for chewing.
Rotate your dog’s toys often – as every child knows, new toys are better than old ones! So put some toys away and rotate them every few days. This will keep your dog interested in the toys.
Socialising is the single most important process in a young dog’s life, and how much you do or fail to do will directly affect the future character of your dog.
If your dog is not socialised, it may become shy, fearful or even aggressive. It may not develop the appropriate canine body language necessary to interact well with other dogs. Puppies that have been well socialised generally grow into happy, confident dogs.
Socialising your dog involves introducing it to a whole range of new experiences including meeting different types of people, dogs, other animals, places, smells and noises. Your dog should be introduced to new situations gently and be rewarded for calm behaviour. Remember you are teaching your young puppy skills in coping with the unpredictable nature of life. Who knows when a car will suddenly backfire, a cat will appear or you decide to take a holiday with friends who also have dogs.
Socialisation needs to be done sensibly.
It is not simply a matter of letting your puppy play with other dogs or walking it along a busy city street. It is very important that you provide your puppy with as many positive experiences as possible. This will increase its confidence in you as a leader and in the world in general. For example, carefully select the dogs that you allow your puppy to meet. It is better to allow your puppy to meet 5 friendly dogs than 20 dogs in a park at random. It is important that your puppy can play with other puppies in order to learn bite inhibition. If you have ever watched puppies play, you will notice that there is a lot of mouthing involved. This is a wonderful way for puppies to explore their new teeth and learn just how softly they must bite in order not to cause their playmates any pain.
Dogs - Take care when introducing your dog to other dogs. The best way to introduce dogs is on a leash. Allow your dog to approach the strange dog ‘side on’, have a quick sniff and step back for a moment. Reward you dog for this brief but friendly interaction.
People - Just as your dog needs to interact with other dogs, it will also benefit from meeting many different types of people. This is a great time to invite your friends around for dinner. Encourage your friends to interact with the puppy, giving food treats and pats for calm and confident behavior. Be sure always to supervise your puppy around children. Make an effort to introduce your puppy to all kinds of people.
Environment - When introducing your puppy to new surroundings pay attention to your dog’s composure. If it is holding its ears back, has its tail down and is trying to make itself appear smaller, it is telling you that it is afraid. Encourage your puppy gently with a happy tone to your voice and reward it with some food treats as its confidence increases. Encourage your puppy to investigate new surroundings. If the new surroundings are too strange or noisy, your puppy may become frightened. This is not what you want. Teaching your new puppy that new things are scary is counterproductive. Remove your puppy from a stressful situation and gradually reintroduce it to the new environment to build up confidence.
While the most important time for socialising your dog is during puppyhood, it is a process that needs to be continued throughout your dog’s life. Major and minor events in our lives shape our personality and attitudes; likewise our dog’s character is influenced by events that occur throughout its life.
At some point in your dog’s life, it will have an unpleasant experience. You need to ensure that pleasant, positive experiences greatly outnumber any negative ones to ensure that your dog remains a balanced and composed member of your family.
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- Teach your child to interact appropriately with dogs and not to 'play-fight' or play 'tug-of-war' games with them. Dogs can get overexcited or frightened if there is a lot of noise. So put your dog out of the way when children are playing loud games and running around.
Why is your dog a Good Dog?
"Bonnie doesn’t judge, is always willing to please is more than a pet is a real friend and I love her to bits." Chris