We base our dog training on the theory that “nothing in life is free”. This is a simple, day-to-day training process that doesn’t take any extra time and anyone can do.
Much of a dog’s behavior is geared towards getting your attention. They demand attention and we give it to them. This makes it pretty easy for them to assume that they are the boss. Nothing in life is free means that they need to do the expected behavior in order to get the reward (your attention, a toy or food).
You might think, “But I don’t pet him, I tell him no and push him off me!” You can reinforce a dog’s behavior (good or bad) by paying attention to it. There are three basic ways to give a dog attention:
Eye contact: Looking at your dog
Voice: Talking to your dog, saying “good dog”, or even “NO!” is paying attention to them
Touch: Petting your dog, or even pushing them off you, grabbing them to take something away
- Start by making your dog work for attention, food, etc. Make him sit before you give him anything. Don’t give him his dinner, treats, toys or even attention until he is sitting quietly. If he is already sitting, you can go so far as to make him lay down first. This establishes your authority to control when the dog gets attention, food or toys. If he doesn’t follow your command, ignore him for 5 minutes and try again.
- If your dog comes over and teases for attention by biting at your hands and clothes, butting her head against you, barking or other undesirable behavior, look at her and tell her to sit. If she doesn’t sit, look away and ignore her. If she tries to get up in your lap, stand up and walk away. Wait a few minutes, and then go back to making her sit, then inviting her into your lap.
- Every time your dog goes outside or is crated for the night, go around and pick up all his toys. Throughout the day, make him sit, then give him a toy and let him go play. This way, they become your toys, not the dog’s toys. You dictate when he can play with them, and if necessary you have the authority to take the toy (or other objects) away from him as needed.
- These are a few basic steps that work with puppies and adult dogs that can help you establish a base for good behavior and more advanced training. Our veterinarians and technicians are well-versed on behavior and training and are always happy to answer your questions.
You can call and let the staff know what you are having a problem with and we can help you address the behavior. For more destructive or dangerous behaviors and problems like separation anxiety and barking, we can arrange a 30 to 60 minute behavior consultation with one of our veterinarians.