Training a dog is not for the fainthearted. It requires patience, repetition and praise. Keep in mind that some breeds are easier to train that others, but as one trainer told me “there are no dogs that fail, but the owners who fail.”
HOW TO GET STARTED
To begin, there are a few supplies that should be at your disposal. Have treats ready to use for rewarding your dog while he is learning. This may be controversial, but for training purposes a choker chain works best. A good leash to attach to the choker chain will be needed in addition.
Hold each training session a few times a day. Dogs lose their concentration after 10-15 minutes, Keep each session short and training will be easier for both of you. Any member of your family, that will interact with your dog, must go through the training with him also. After putting the choker chain and leash on your dog, have him sit. Say “sit” while pushing back on his rear end, The next step, while he is sitting, is to throw a treat in front of the dog, so that he can see it, but just out of his reach. When your pet gets up to go get the treat, give a sharp tug on the leash. Then put him back in the sitting position. This step may take a few tries before moving on. Remember that praise is important by saying “good boy,” giving him a pat and a treat.
As the dog progresses and you feel ready for the next step, put him in the sit position. Hold the leash loosely and walk in front of him. Turn your hand, palm out, saying stay. Each time he does not listen and gets up to walk toward you, walk right back to where you had him, give a sharp tug on the leash. Repeat until this step has been learned.
Once he has mastered the above steps, start teaching the command to lay by pressing on his upper back, saying down. There is a spot right between the shoulder blades that if you push on, he will lay down. If you cannot do this, gently pull his legs out so he will get in the lying position.
READY FOR THE OUTSIDE
Of course, obeying commands in the house is easier than being outside. There are so many things to distract your dog, such as car coming down the street, kids, birds, other dogs. So, once you have mastered the inside commands, you are both ready to go in front of your house and again, work through all commands already mastered.
Have you ever watched others walk their dog and wonder who is walking who? Yes, the next step is teaching your pet not only to heel when on a leash, but also learning how to turn when you do. Again, holding the leash loosely, have the dog get into the sit position. Tighten up on the leash so that he won’t be able to get far from your side. To start off, say heel and starting walking. When he gets excited and tries to run ahead, and he will, tug sharply on the leash and get him back into position by your side and saying heel. Walk about 20 feet and turn around. The dog should circle you while staying at your side. This maneuver will take practice and time.
CLIMBING ON FURNITURE
Leave the choker chain and leash on. Every time your pet tries to get up on your furniture, tug the leash, say no, and go back to what you were doing. I must warn you, that this takes time and patience on your side. You may be up and down until you’re tired, teaching this behavior for a few weeks. Use this method to teach your pet from going up stairs, if you have a second floor, and do not want him on that level. If he jumps on counters, etc.
I can’t stress the importance of praise. Dogs want to please and many are eager to learn. As you progress a treat will not be necessary all the time. Simply say “what a good boy” and pat him once or twice as positive reinforcement.
Any other behavior you wish to teach your pet, can be accomplished, using the same methods of training with the leash and the choke collar, use hand palms towards the dog for sit and stay.
Some breeds of dogs are easier to train than others, so know you breed, so you can have a good idea of how long this may take. For example, Basset Hounds are very hard to train and will require more time and effort on your part to learn than some of the other breeds.