3 Training Principles Every Dog Owner Should Know

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3 Training Principles Every Dog Owner Should Know

  1. Reward what you like.

All living creatures do more of what’s rewarding to them. Make this principle work for you by using treats, praise, play sessions, belly rubs, door-opening, and ball-throwing to reinforce polite behavior whenever it happens. Too often, spontaneous sits or lying around calmly or a lack of barking goes unnoticed - and unrewarded.

  1. Ignore what you don’t like.

To make annoying behavior less likely to happen, make it not work for your dog. He wants to greet you and jumps up to do it? Turn away. If that’s not enough, walk away. Ignore demand barking. If ignoring a behavior isn’t enough or won’t work in a given situation, remove a reward (like a toy or treat) or give your dog a brief time-out. A time-out is not a punishment; it’s a circuit breaker. It stops the annoying behavior. Examples of time-outs are putting your dog in his crate or behind a closed door, or walking away from someone or something he wants to get to.

  1. Break it down.

Don’t wait until your dog can dance the tango on command before you dish out the meatball piece. Break any trick or behavior into smaller parts and reward along the way. If your dog has trouble with a step, break it down further or go back one step so your dog gets rewarded again and doesn’t lose heart or interest. Fun learning is faster learning.