In episode two of training bites Hannah talks to us about how to build our dream dog using common sense and positive training techniques.
“A well trained dog is just a by-product of a good human canine relationship”
Hannah explains that by “building your dream dog” she isn’t suggesting you create some sort of mix-and-match dog like choosing toppings at a frozen yogurt store. She’s talking about getting the best out of the dog that you have right now…
Step One: See your dog for who they truly are and learn to accept and embrace this.
Acknowledge things like:
- Personality traits
- Breed characteristics
- Unique quirks, etc
However, this doesn’t mean that if your dog performs some bad behaviours like jumping or excessive barking that you are stuck with them as part of who your dog is. Let’s say you have a dog who loves children and will run to them smoother then in kisses, possibly bowling them over in the process. You can absolutely change that way your dog behaves when it interacts with children, but you can also accept and embrace the fact that they are a dog who loves children.
Step Two: Figure out how you want your dog to behave in everyday situations
Make a list of how you would like your dog to react in common everyday situations like people coming to the door, or leaving the house for a walk. Figure out how you would like your dogs to act and also note how they are acting now in those situations. It’s important to make a complete list, go through your whole day with your dog.
What you will probably realize is that there are many things we don’t want our dogs to do (we don’t want them to pull on the leash, we don’t want them to bark at other dogs, we don’t want them to jump on guests, etc) but we can’t effectively train “don’ts” to dogs. It is actually much more effective to teach our dogs what we want them to do in each situation rather than trying to teach them what we don’t want them to do. The problem with working in teaching “don’ts” is that it leaves the decision of what to do instead up to your dog.
For example, if you teach your dog simply no jumping, they may decide that instead of jumping they are going to bark at the person, or growl at them. It is more clear to teach the dog that every time someone enters our home we want them to sit on their bed and wait to be greeted, that way there is no decision making for the dog to do.
To get your ideal dog you need to define what you want your dog to do in situations, not what you don’t want your dog to do.
Step Three: Be Consistent
This is why we write down what we want our dog to do in each situation, it helps us have clear consistent goals for our dogs. Consistency is what is going to get you your dream dog.
If you want your dog to walk on a loose leash you should consistently reward & praise him for walking on a loose leash. We also set the framework that on walks our dog is not allowed to walk on a tight least, if they get to then end of their leash we stop, encourage the dog to come back to our side and then continue when they are in the desired area.
Pretty much every behaviour you want from your dog can be turned into a fun game or a training exercise in order to build intrinsic motivation inside your dog to make them actually want to do those behaviours.