How to train the perfect dog
So your dog's not turning out to be the perfectly behaved pooch you'd always dreamt of hey?
Maybe you've even tried training classes but he doesn't seemed to have listened to what the instructor has been saying.
Well what if I told you there are some simple changes that can help change him from a manic mutt to a perfect pooch. Don't believe me - read on.
There a few golden rules I teach at the club:
1- You must be more interesting than everything else going on
2- If you ask for something, it must happen
3- Have clear, consistent rules
Now, a training session is the perfect place to learn exactly what I mean, and of course to show your dog what we want too. The problem is you have a session (probably an hour) a week. That's just 1 hour out of 168, or, roughly 0.56% of your dogs week. Now put it like that- do you really expect 1 hour to make dramatic changes to how your dog behaves?!
What that hour does do is show your dog how it CAN behave - and you to learn how to make that happen.
The problem is once you go home, life often gets in the way and it can be hard to remember what to do - let alone practice it. However dogs don't just learn in a class environment - they learn every minute of every day and every time you are with your dog - you are training it. And every time you conflict at home with something you were taught in class, you are breaking my 3rd golden rule.
So what to do.
I want you to stop thinking about what you've got to do with your dog and instead think about what you've got to do to train your dog.
Let me give you a couple of examples.
You think your dog needs a walk every day - wrong - your dog needs stimulating every day. That doesn't mean taking your dog down to the park and letting him run riot with all the other dogs over there. All that's doing is teaching your dog that the other dogs are more interesting than you (uh-oh - there goes golden rule number 1). Instead, take your dog down the park and practice what you've learnt in class. Now that doesn't mean he can't socialise with other dogs - it just means you need to get his attention if and when you want it. And trust me, if you do this enough, and truly interact with your dog out and about - he will soon start choosing you over other dogs anyway!
Another example - if you teach your dog how to walk nicely on the lead in a training session, then don't let him pull you all the way to the park. Easier said than done I hear you say!!
And you're right. If every time you walk your dog, you walk to the park (or somewhere he has fun), then of course he is going to want to pull. Instead, mix up where you go. Even if you never leave your road, that's fine. Show your dog that being next to you is where the fun is- not pulling out in front!
One last example. Your super friendly dog wants to say hello to every dog you meet along a walk. You've tried getting his attention but nothing works. Instead, start looking ahead for things that may potentially steal your dogs attention. Keep at a distance where you can keep your dogs attention until the distraction has passed and reward them. On the next distraction, try a slightly smaller distance. Keep this up and it won't be long until you can keep your dogs attention right next to any distraction.
Now these are just a few examples of how you make slight alterations to how you would normally interact with your dog in order to make some big overall differences to you relationship.
Here a few more simple and easy changes you can make:
- Before letting your dog say hello to anyone (dog or person) ask them for a watch command first.
- Before going through a door, ask your dog to sit and wait to be released through.
- If you are out on a walk and your dog ignores you, head in the other direction (in a run ideally), he will soon learn to follow when you call.
- Use a long line to show your dog what the rules are when out on a walk - there is a big difference between a dog being off lead, and a dog being trained to be off lead.
Now remember, practice what you've learnt in class to show your dog the rules exist anywhere and everywhere. Even if that means you need to adapt where you go and what you do.