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Training Your Dog

The Four “P’s” of Training

Praise. Everyone learns faster with encouragement—use toys, treats, and/or scratches under the chin—whatever your dog responds to best.

Practice. Incorporate practice into your daily routine: Try a few exercises at feeding time; bring along some treats on your daily walks and practice sit, heel, and come; teach the meaning of a positive word like “OK” by saying it whenever it’s time for a break.

Prevention. Give Rags a chance to do something RIGHT before he does something wrong. In other words, BE CONSIDERATE and PAY ATTENTION! Don’t expect superhuman feats from him, such as “holding it” for 10 hours. Watch for Rags to start eyeing the neighbor’s cat and call him to you for a good scratch behind the ears to distract him from giving chase.

Patience. It is unreasonable to expect Rex to turn into a perfect gentleman overnight, so be patient. Keep training sessions short, interesting, and positive. If Rex starts to get bored and distracted after 10 minutes or you start to lose your temper, it’s time for a recess.

The P that DOESN’T belong is Punishment. If Rosie “misbehaves,” it’s YOUR fault for failing to supervise her or communicate with her clearly. NEVER hit Rosie: This teaches her that might makes right, a lesson she may later use on you or a child.

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  • Sabrina says:

    Remember, the more time you spend talking and teaching your dog, the more time you will have later to just enjoy your dog. Dominance doesn’t work, it’s a stop-gap for lack of real training. I’ve tried all methods on several sizes and breeds of dogs, patients and time is all it takes to develop a great relationship with any animal. They will get to know you and act according to you.

  • Shell says:

    I agree with the praise 100% (but only with slow physical praise, never treats) but how can the dog know what is not ok to do if we don’t teach it? Giving a correction doesn’t have to be a punishment if it’s light and done correctly (never with your hands and never hitting) it simply gets their attention and redirects them to the right behavior. This is just what has worked for me and the 100s of dogs myself and those I work with have trained. Every single one responds the same and every single one is a happy pup.

  • GestaltZe says:

    Superb advice. I was using the ‘dominance’ methods of training for a long time (think Cesar Milan, and when considering this kind of training, remember that ‘dominance’ models of canid behavior is about 20 years out of date), and it eventually did result in a lot of bloodshed on my part, as well as a loss of trust that I don’t think can ever be truly regained. The kinds of training used above are much more likely to result in a happy dog, happy people, and a trusting, loving relationship.

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