How To Train Your Dog

So you'd like to train your dog? Congratulations!! This is a smart and excellent decision! Once following these simple steps you will be happier and your furry friend will be happier too! We over complicate things when we try to figure out how to make Mr. or Mrs. Fido do what we want. The truth is dogs don't analyze things like we do, they do NOT think like us. Their main driving forces are: Food, exercise, food, sleep, food, play, food relax. Mainly food, unless you have a free feeder like mine. To try to see things through your dogs eyes is extremely difficult for some people, in order to do so you have to take out the emotions completely. 

I was raised breeding large dogs, training and riding horses, then went towards working as a Veterinarian Technician for 5 years. Over my life I have trained 15 dogs that were my and my family's and trained 10 horses that were the family's too. My numbers are not as high as the "trainers" that do that as a living, but following through with training the entire length of the animals life equals an expert level in my eyes. 

Consistency is key. Consistency Consistency Consistency. Say it out loud, CONSISTENCY! Good job, now remember that word, it is the foundation of successfully accomplishing your goals. Lets look at the definition of that word so there is no confusion.

a. Agreement or logical coherence among things or parts: a rambling argument that lacked any consistency.
b. Correspondence among related aspects; compatibility: questioned the consistency of the administration's actions with its stated policy.
2. Reliability or uniformity of successive results or events: pitched with remarkable consistency throughout the season.
3. Degree of density, firmness, or viscosity: beat the mixture to the consistency of soft butter.

Alright, now that we got that out of the way lets move on. Lets ask two simple questions:

1. What do you want to accomplish? 
-A simple answer like, "I want my dog to be trained" is not going to cut it, your going to have to really think about what you want. You definitely MUST for safety and trust purposes always have your dog listen to you when you give it a command especially the simple, "come here", and the simple, "no". If you have those established you can add more to your list of what you would like your dog to do, if not then you need to work on the foundation ones first. If your dog does not come when you call them or stop when you say no, you have a potential problem that can arise in your future together and it will not be the dogs fault, it will be yours. Make a list of what you want to accomplish and be consistent with your pet. 

2. What kind of reinforcements do you want to use?
-Most dogs are treat and food driven, some just want toys, maybe yours is okay with a good ol' "good boy" or "girl tone". What kind of dog do you have? You need to carry the toy and/or treats and only give them when your dog does what you want, not when its not. If you ever reward your dog when it is not behaving properly you will be right back at square one. Dogs do not need to be pet, most of the time we pet the dogs because we think they want to be pet, then it turns into a self soothing automatic reaction. There is nothing wrong with petting Fido, just don't do it when they are not doing what you want. Petting a dog is a reinforcement of whatever they are doing at that time. If they are scared and you pet them you are telling them its okay to be scared. Wait until they are okay, not nervous, calm and relaxed, reinforce that good positive behavior with petting, a treat, or a toy. 

Be consistent with your tone of voice (yes I used that word again), when your scolding don't scold in a loving tone, be firm and mean it. When the dog is good use a happy loving tone and mean it, you cannot fool the dogs they can sense if your lying. It is simply not enough to say no, especially when your body language says yes. Give your animal the whole package, if you say no your whole body needs to say no, show confidence, exude a don't mess with me attitude, mean business, be firm, your dog needs you to be able to handle the situation. This is YOUR animal, what you let them get away with is YOUR choice, YOU can create a monster or an angel. You are not your Pets animal so start acting like an owner. If you are not able to be strong with your pet when you need to you should not be an animal owner. 
You should never have to lay your hand on your pet. Beating and hitting is NEVER allowed. You want your dog to trust you. Would you trust someone that beat you? I didn't think so, so get that mind set out of your head. It will only make things worse if you hit your dog. However if your dog is not respecting you then you need to take back the reins of respect, somehow you lost it, don't worry you can get it back with these few simple steps.

1. Walk your dog on a leash. Yes walk them, sounds simple enough but its all in how you walk them. Notice I said you walk the dog, not the dog walk you. If you let your dog walk you they walk all over you in the home too, when you show them that you have the power they will gladly let you have it. Its easier for them after all to just listen and do. 

When you walk your dog no tension should be in your leash, you should be confident, imagine how you want them to be, keep that in your mind, not how you don't want them to be. If your dog walks ahead of you, STOP, and start over. Don't drag your dog but don't be lead by your dog either, its a happy cohesion, think like a magnet not the negative effect of the magnet. If its not going well you can start over, STOP, move forward and be consistent. Do NOT give up, the last thing that was done will be remembered, make the last thing be a positive thing and reinforce that behavior. Keep at this it will get better, progress will be made as long as you believe it will. 

2. Sometimes the dog will act out and need to be put in their place, this only needs to be done when then are not getting it with the "no", and are not giving the power up to you. When this happens you need to be able to lay your dog down. It sounds worse then it is. It translates to the dog, that you are owning them, and that its not okay for them to own you. What you need to do is get your dog down on its side, put your hand on their neck and leg on their hind legs, (your basically pinning them down), much different techniques for different sized animals. Pin your dog down and do not release them until they are calm. Some will fight you, toss and turn, you can tighten your grip when needed, you mean business, but you don't aim to hurt. You may have to do this a few times, they learn FAST with this, so don't be afraid of it but make sure your in the position so your dog cannot hurt you, if you need to tighten your grip on their neck because they try and bite at you then that's what you have to do. There are acceptable things and not acceptable things, biting and a dog trying to own you is not okay. Tighten your grip, mean business, hold them down until they give up the fight, once they are calm, you take a deep breath out loud, take two, then release them. 

I will now make lists of what is NOT acceptable. Do not allow your dog to ever do the following. In dog translation they are making you their puppet, they own you if they do this:

Jump up on you when you get home. It isn't this romantic they are happy to see you interpretation we make up in our heads, they are upset you left, and trying to own you by jumping on you saying, you were bad, you left me, don't do it again. They look so cute when they do this but that is what it means. 

Eat before you eat. You are the head of the house, you eat first. After your done eating they eat from their food bowl, not your plate, your plate is not their food bowl, don't confuse the dog like that. They have their own bowl and that is the only place they should ever be fed. If you feed them other places they will think that object or place is theirs too. 

Jump up on your bed or couch without you allowing it or giving permission. They should have their own bed, their own place. Your bed is your bed, your couch is your couch, don't confuse them. Make it simple, they feel safe when they know whats theirs. Make them have a safe place. A crate is great for this. 

I am a huge fan of crate training when they are puppy's and even adults, long enough until they get that the crate is their safe place. Crate training can satisfy two different goals, potty training and creating a safe place. To crate train you leave them in the crate at night, no food or water should be in the crate, it is their bedroom not dining room. Be strong to the cry's the first few nights, they eventually self soothe and stop the crying. Your not beating your dog your simply creating a safe place for them that they can be at by themselves. And for potty reasons making sure you don't wake up and step in poop. After a month or two of crate training you can leave the door open or even take it off, eventually the dog will learn that is where they go, its the only place that is 100% theirs. Overnight crating is fine, but keep in mind your pets bladder and how often they go potty for daytime crating, if your dog has to go potty every 3 hours only 3 hours a day will work, once they get older they can hold it a lot longer. Don't get upset with your dog if they have an accident if your creating unrealistic expectations, you have to adapt to what their bodies can handle. 

Whine or bark at you. Not okay, ignore this behavior. Yes ignore it, turn your back, put on earplugs, listen to your iPod. Ignore it. Any attention is reinforcement. Do not do it. Only reward for what you want them to do. Be consistent. 

Bite you. This is a given. Don't ever allow your dog to bite you, or chew on your clothing, shoes, whatnot, whatever smells like you. If your dog bites you they must be scolded and pinned to the ground immediately, they have to have an immediate response, and the response that translates to them needs to be, "this is not okay, this is what will happen if I do this again, I don't want to have that happen again therefore I wont do it." If you are hurt really badly then that dog is too much for you to handle and you should not be owning it. I'm not saying the dog should be shot, I'm not saying your a bad owner, but your match together is not a good one. If it was a little nibble, not puppy nibble, you can see the whole demeanor of a dog change, you will know when they are being serious or playful. You will need to respond fast, if you don't your dog will think its okay and that behavior will be repeated. 

Reinforce behaviors you want them to keep. Give them a treat, a reward. Ignore or pin them down with behaviors that need to be eradicated. Scold and say no for things that don't require such a strong approach. You need to be fast. Super fast. They need immediate reward or consequence. That is how you get them to do what you want. 

Your pets should have 3 constants that they will know whats acceptable even without you home:

  • Where they eat/drink
  • Where they sleep
  • Where they go potty

Make these things a no brainer for your pet. Make it simple, don't over complicate it. 

If you don't make the rules it's very easy for your animal to break the rules and even make their own rules. You have to bconsistent with your animal, don't confuse them, they are not complicated creatures, we are. Make it simple for them and they will make it simple for you. 

If you have specific questions or issues I'm happy to help! Comment below and I will try to get back to you ASAP. Thank you for reading! Have a great day!

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