“Don’t find fault. Find a remedy.” ~Henry Ford
A few rules that are used by most trainers, the reasons we see training our dogs as easy.
Mark good behavior. This simply means at the moment your dog does something right you let them know with a word, a treat or a sound. I simply say “Good” in a soft happy tone. Some trainers use clickers, others use treats.
Distract from bad behavior, Praise good behavior. For example if your dog is acting inappropriately Say “AHHT”, clap your hands or stomp your feet, anything that will distract your dog from what they are not supposed to be doing (Chewing, Barking, Digging, Etc…) the second your dog stops say “Good” Then show them what you would have them do instead and say “Good” again, as they accept the correction.
It works like this…Fido chewing on a shoe, “AHTT”, Fido stops and looks up,” Good”, take away the shoe and hand Fido one of his own toys,” Good”
This is the basis for training away many unwanted behaviors. Just stop the behavior you don’t want, praise that they have stopped, and show your dog the behavior you prefer then praise again.
Don’t repeat command words. Once you have asked your dog to do something, don’t ask again instead follow through by showing them what you want. If you continue to repeat commands, your dog may eventually comply but, they are not learning to respond to you quickly or efficiently, instead they are learning to wait until they feel like it, before they respond. Many dogs wait until you use a tone that the dog takes seriously. (Usually because you have become frustrated)
You want your dog to take you seriously, the first time you ask in a normal tone. If your dog does not respond the first time, use the technique your trainer has shown you to achieve the behavior you want, then mark it. Remember this rule and your dog will learn to do what you ask the first time they hear it.
Be consistent. Dogs are an either we can or we cannot type creature. “Sometimes it’s okay” to humans, means “I’ll do it when I want” to dogs. Common examples are jumping up, sleeping on the bed, begging at the table. Dogs have no concept of good clothes –vs- jeans or being clean after grooming as opposed to muddy after play. They simply understand Yes or No. Also be patient, each dog learns at it’s own pace. Once you have begun to teach your dog a new behavior don’t become frustrated, think it is not working, and change your teaching technique. Changing your technique is starting back at zero…it will only confuse the issue. Dogs learn through consistency of repetition. Stick with the technique you are using for at least several weeks, if you are still not satisfied, talk with your trainer before making a change. Be sure you are able to explain what is going on that makes you believe the technique is not working, and if you have read or heard about a technique you would like to try instead mention it to your trainer so they may help you execute the technique properly.
Praise, Praise, Praise Dogs love to know that they have your attention and that you are happy. Praise even the smallest accomplishments. The more you praise the faster your dog will learn and the happier they will be about it.