Before we jump into training we need to look at all the different areas of you and your dogs relationship and your life together. We need to make sure the lifestyle is arranged in a way that will set your dog up for the most success throughout the training process.
Management v.s. Training
What we allow is what will continue
As we start our training journey the #1 thing we need to do is make sure that from here on out our dog is not put in situations to be able to practice bad behaviors.
Most management techniques will be replaced with an alternative command or behavior through the training process. We will discuss realistic goals for your dog as we move along in training.
Your dog will need to have a foundation in their obedience and have started the proofing process before expecting them to be able to perform in real world distractions. This will set them up for the most success.
From this moment forward your dog is being managed or trained at ALL times!
Examples of Management v.s. Training
A dog that rushes the front door & guests
Management: Your dog needs to be leashed, crated or in another room before the door opens EVERY TIME the door opens.
Training: Will be teaching a "Wait" command and teaching your dog not to cross the threshold
Having your dog on a long line when you are ready to "proof" the command to see how well they really know the command
Training: Sending them to "Place" + Back tie-ing them while you open the door.
Barking at the neighbor dogs in the backyard
Management: Walking your dog outside on a standard leash or Long line
Training will be teaching "Here" a reliable recall or using an "Out"/"Leave it" and spending lots of time taking your dog out on a Long Line and having a way to reinforce your commands.
What kind of food are they eating?
Do they do well on it? Are they itchy? Do they have soft poop?
We recommend a grain-free dog food as we find most dogs do best on that.
We recommend your dog is on a 4 or 5 star dog food. Ratings can be found at:
Lower quality foods can be like eating junk food for your dog. I know when I don't eat well on a regular basis I don't feel my best and tend to be more cranky and irritable. Same is true for your dog.
How much food is your dog eating?
Are you going off the bags recommendation? If so, you should probably lower the amount. The bag just wants you to buy more dog food and the more you feed the quicker your dog will go through it.
Your dogs proper weight is to be able to easily feel ribs without digging for them and an "Hour glass" shape if you are looking down on your dog.
How many times a day are they being fed?
For most puppies over the age of 14 weeks you can feed twice a day. Some people choose to feed once a day which is ok. I typically recommend twice. There is no need to feed 3 times a day unless you have a young puppy under the age of 14 weeks or if you have a larger breed, such as a Dane or Mastiff you may need to feed three times a day to spread out the massive amount of food they need as they grow.
Does your dog eat his/her meal all at once or do they graze throughout the day?
I recommend giving your dog 20minutes to eat and if they haven't in that time frame take the food away and they will wait until their next meal.
This will help the dog see that you are the provider of the food and its not just a right to them.
This will also be helpful if you ever travel with your dog or board them so they will eat when the food is down for them.
Can you approach your dog while they are eating?
I don't recommend harassing your dog while their eating as I wouldn't like that either
If you're dealing with food possession or the beginning stages of food possession: your dog eats faster or leans over their bowl more when you are near.
Make sure to bring this to my attention at a lesson so that we can cover how to go about training this safely for your dogs situation.
You can watch the video on how to teach "Out" but I don't want you to attempt this until we have discussed it for your particular dog.
If your dog doesn't have any trouble - GREAT!
Let's keep it that way by teaching an "Out" command
Randomly approach your dog while they are eating and add a treat to their bowl.
Making meal time an interactive activity
Check with me if your dog has been possessive of food before attempting these
Teach a trick and make them work for their meal
Use a treat ball, puzzle toy, or toss the food across the patio or grass to get them thinking. Also this will take them 15min or more instead of 2min out of their bowl.
Your dogs overall health impacts how they feel and can be a factor in behavior as well. Has your dog been to the vet lately? Is your vet thorough?
Things you should check regularly on your dog: Teeth
A cracked tooth can cause alot of pain
A constant shaking of the head may indicate an ear infection.
Look in their ears. Are they clean do they smell ok?
Are your dogs nails too long?
Long Coated Dogs
Is your dog brushed regularly? Don't let matts build up behind the ears, tail or butt fluff.
Is your dog allowed up on the furniture?
If yes. That's O.K. But! It should be by invitation only when you are home. I don't worry about if my dog is on my bed when I'm not home or go to any great lengths to keep them off while I'm away as I don't feel it is necessary. If we don't have any other house problems. But, I don't want them to believe they have the "right to be there" just for general structure as well as the added benefit of their manners when you have guests over so they don't expect to be up on the couch in everyones face.
As you start to set these new boundaries give the command "Off" and use your leash to give your dog a quick tug to influence them to get off the furniture. You are NOT dragging them off, you are bugging them with taps on the leash until they decide to get off on their own.
Wait to invite them up.. if you want them up at all.. until they have relaxed with the fact that they need to be on the floor. Do not allow your dog up while they are begging and giving you puppy dog eyes.
Your dog should learn to "Wait" at the major doorways in your home. Any doorways that lead to "Outside" and could be a potential safety concern. You can also apply the "Wait" command to other thresholds in your home - kitchen, children's bedrooms etc. Your dog does not need to wait before going through every doorway in the house. But definitely should not be allowed to push past you to get through any doorways either.
Interaction with your dog
Your dog mirror's your behavior 1st and foremost. Behave in the manner that you want your dog to behave.
Most of us are seeking to Calm our dogs so to get that we need to be and use:
Calm voice when talking to them
Calm, slow, massage like petting
Slower movements even on a walk
Be a leader to your dog.
Give your dog attention when you want to give them attention. Not when they are asking/demanding it from you.
Same goes for playtime. You get the toy out instead of being a well trained owner and throwing the ball when they bring it to you.
Be Clear and Consistent when you ask something of them
Don't get frustrated. If you start to become frustrated: Crate your dog and go take a break. That frustration will just travel down the leash and will become a battle and will be detrimental to your relationship.
How much exercise does my dog need? Less than you might think. Most of us have become exausted trying to tire out our hyper dogs who never get tired no matter how hard we try. Instead of tiring them out we have just built their endurance to go for longer. Oops! Thats not working.. so.. Lets try something new! Let's focus on mentally wearing them out and tiring their brains instead of furthering their endurance as athletes at this stage in our training.
Get your dog out twice a day for a walk even if that means you only go down the street and back. Set aside a minimum of 20minutes to get your dog out for a walk twice a day. Now the 20 minutes is not about the walking time. Get your dogs leash out. They get amped up and jump about. Stand and wait or Sit and Wait. They settle start to put the leash on. They get crazy and you stop and wait. Your 1st "Walk" may just be about your dog learning as long as they are bonkers nothing happens and everytime they settle you move forward. If you notice this is a problem for you and your dog. I recommend getting the leash out multiple times a day so it becomes nonchalant instead of an "Event". Then once that is calmer then leash your dog and work on waiting at the front door. That in itself may take up 10minutes. Then work on polite leash manners getting down the driveway. Once you have progressed to calm putting the leash on, calm at the doorway and you get to start your walk. NOW its about the walk... but don't be fooled.. your not just walking. You are working on teaching your dog to keep their leash loose and that you are a sneaky human and could stop, slow or turn around at any moment and they should be paying attention.
Now that you have these steps down you can proceed to longer walks. Make sure to continue to incorporate your sneaky human tricks of slowing, turning around etc. in every so often to keep your dog thinking and aware of where you are.