Your good boy doesn’t have to be bad to necessitate learned behavior. Bell training your dog or puppy socialization are mandatory for all kinds of dogs because they reinforce good habits.
If you have a pet that responds to vocal cues like “sit”, “stay”, or “fetch”, and understands what small words like “beef”, “cheese”, or “ketchup” represent, it’s far easier to communicate with them.
Short of recruiting a certified dog behaviorist, here’s what you could do to reinforce positive behavior.
1. Shower With Treats and Compliments
Whenever your dog does something good or behaves the way you want it to, you must react to it. No follow-ups mean it’ll think you aren’t interested and drop it as soon as it picked it up.
Have a doggie treat waiting for them, so they would be doubly motivated, but trade it for a rub and a compliment once in a while. By doing that, they won’t adopt a good habit for the sake of a treat, but because they truly understand, it makes its hoomans happy.
2. Bring in the Family
Family, here, refers to immediate relatives and friends. It’s good to involve other members of your current or former household early in dog training and socialization.
Pups are loyal, but they can also be royally jealous. So, instead of getting a dog walker or pet sitter, drop ‘em off at the fam’s at least once a week. They may not like it at first but are sure to love it in the long run.
3. Don’t Be Harsh on Them
Tip for beginners: when you talk to your pet, use the tone you usually reserve for babies. And do this at all times because that’s how you’ll get a response out of it.
Another thing you may want to remember: no matter how much your animal ends up frustrating you during training sessions, don’t ever raise your voice at them. It should be to the point where you’re gentle even when you bark “out” to get them to leave a room.
Whenever your dog displays unacceptable behavior, you have to do the opposite of encouraging it. Correct that behavior by teaching it the right one. When it notices the absence of a treat and belly rub, it’ll know you don’t approve of it.
Patience is key during training because it’s usually when your pooch is learning to trust you as well.
4. Strategize Their Mealtimes
If you bring a well-fed pet to something like puppy potty training, it’s unlikely to feel motivated enough to act the way you want it to. Therefore, prior to embarking on a certain behavioral training, reshuffle its mealtimes so that they don’t occur anywhere near training time.
It’s important that you do it before rather than during because it’ll give your dog’s mealtimes predictability, which is necessary for keeping it calm during a session.
If you feed it at entirely different intervals every day, it’s more likely to be agitated and hyperactive, which is bad for you because it leads to undesirable behavior.
5. Don’t Respond to Hyperactive Behavior
Dogs can be startled by the slightest change in their environment. For instance, you’re most likely in for a bumpy ride if you take them for a walk beyond the local park. Bad behavior stemming from agitation is totally expected during such times. However, it might become a habit rather than an episode if you don’t nip it in the bud right from the beginning.
As mentioned previously, ignore this kind of hyperactivity and be patient enough to wait while they realize it’s not what you want. Instead, whenever they do act in the desired way, always respond to it with positive reinforcement. Ignoring it is not an option here because it could mean the world where dog training is concerned.
6. Be On the Same Page with Your Family
While not as harmful as positively reinforcing bad behavior, overlapping training techniques can make your pets slower. If you have a family that’s training them when you’re not around, be sure to compare notes with them.
Clear out any discrepancies, like determining what certain commands mean, or even better, sort out all the techniques before starting. As previously stated, predictability and routine are the two things necessary to normalize new behavior in your pets.
7. Have Repeat Sessions Throughout the Day
Dogs are like the goldfish of the terrestrial world. They won’t know what they’ve done wrong—or right—until you drill it into them. The only way to do that is through repeating the habit you want them to adopt in multiple short training sessions instead of a longer, extended one.
The reason longer training hours are not recommended is that they literally ‘live in the moment’ and are therefore easily distracted.
Teach them one thing at a time, and keep repeating and reinforcing it in small, informal sessions until they pick it up, and only then should you move on to the next thing.
8. Use Distress Signals to Your Advantage
We’ve all come across a horror story or two about certain owners actually conditioning their animals to bite. Be better by conditioning them out of that habit. When you suffer so much as an innocent nip from your canine, don’t let it go.
Instead, overreact by yelping or crying out loud. If that doesn’t surprise them into letting go off the habit or trade toys with them.
Active correction is encouraged in this case because this could very well lead to them attacking someone else.
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