As a Columbus dog trainer for 14 years and owner of Greg Knows Dogs, I am still amazed how my dog training methods help me to see a major change in dogs in the first lesson. In fact, some of my customers think I cast a spell on the dogs or have a magic wand! I always end the lesson with something like this…“Your dog is going to take a nap from working so hard with us. He’s going to wake up and think he’s had a bad dream and is ready for things to get back to the way they were.”
The key to dog training is consistency and communication. I teach you how to communicate with your dog so that he understands what you are saying. Although dogs come to understand certain words in English, when you speak in a language your dog understands and combine this communication with body language, you will be successful in your dog training efforts.
Once I leave a client’s house after a lesson, the process of training your dog needs to continue. Here are some tips to keep you on track. You need to practice your training exercises every day to get the best results.
- Establishing yourself as the “leader”. Remember your dog needs to see you as the “pack leader” (or “boss” or whatever word you want to use). Otherwise, he will try and take control and think you are an equal. He prefers to learn from you and have rules so he will feel more secure. You will need to be leader-like and consistent. I don’t mean being physical with your dog. Use authoritative voice tones. Your dog will regularly test you and you need to win every time. If you keep reinforcing good behavior, your dog will learn to follow your new rules and behave the way you want.
- Reinforcement is Important. If you are correcting your dog and he shows signs of yielding, reinforce his response by leading him to the right behavior, then praising him. Praising is very important and should be done the minute your dog displays the behavior you want. If you don’t praise your dog, you are missing a golden opportunity for your dog to understand exactly what you want.
- Once you have praised your dog, practice the behavior again until your dog learns door manners, not to jump up, not to bark at the doorbell, etc. You should keep repeating the same exercise until you are guiding and praising your dog for the right decision.
- Set up temptations to misbehave. If you are distracted, your dog is distracted. If you are in a rush, don’t use this time to try and train your dog. The minute you let your dog get away with his bad behavior, he will revert and test you. Set up the opportunity to misbehave when you are ready to teach him.
- Do your homework. I leave clients with a series of exercises to ensure success. The exercises are designed specifically for each client. I recommend doing the exercises several times each day at different times of day, in different places, etc.
Practice will pay off because you will have a happier dog who knows the rules. Remember your dog wants to please you – he just doesn’t know how until you show him!