Well, here’s one more thing that I can procrastinate on. 🙂 Although I’ve been told that blogging is something that shouldn’t take a lot of time, posts are meant to be short yet informative. Much like dog training I suppose.
Training sessions with your dog (or any animal) should be short and sweet, especially when the animal is young or frightened. Short, fun sessions of a few minutes duration are best. Repeat these as often as you can, the more the better, but even just a few each day can make a huge difference in your pet.
Something as simple as waiting until the dog sits to put his food bowl down or to put his leash on can teach him to calm down at these exciting times.
Of course, the key to success is repetition. The more often the animal practices something, the better he will get at it… this goes for ‘bad’ behavior as well.
We should consider every interaction with our pets as a training opportunity. As an example, let’s take dogs who jump on people for attention.
This is a behavior that the dog will readily offer, probably every time you come in a door. The hardest part is not rewarding the dog for jumping. Remember, the dog only wants your attention, he’s been alone ALL DAY… or at least for the few minutes you left the room. To the dog, attention can be anything – eye contact, touching or a few words from his human… It won’t matter to the dog that the words are ‘get off me!’ and the hands are pushing him away. He got the attention he craved.
If you remember to only give him attention when his feet are on the floor, he will soon start to offer that behavior more frequently. Be sure to reward and reinforce that good behavior with attention. Don’t take it for granted or he will go back to jumping on you again… after all, that worked before.
If your dog is really good at jumping and has a hard time settling down enough for you to reward the ‘four on the floor’ that you want, you need to practice with the dog on a leash. You can either secure the leash to something sturdy or have someone step on the leash leaving enough room for the dog to stand or sit comfortably, but not to hit you in the face if he jumps up.
Approach the dog and wait just outside his reach, as soon as he calms down with all four feet on the floor, praise calmly and step forward, if he keeps his feet on the floor, reach in and pet him calmly on the chest. As soon as a foot comes off the floor, back up. At first, you may be backing up a lot, the dog may not even get touched in the first few sessions, but if you keep practicing he will improve.
Make sure to avoid putting him in situations where he can keep practicing the ‘bad’ jumping behavior when you are not prepared to train. In other words, don’t leave him access to the door you come home through, don’t let him greet visitors unless he is on a leash and they are willing to help you practice for a few minutes.
Remember, practice makes perfect and the dog will continue to practice the jumping until he learns that there is a better alternative.