Dog Training! (in case you didn't know ;)

Hey! Do you have a dog or are planning to get one? It's never to late to train a dog or to break it from some bad habits, and if you're planning on training it you've come to the right place. I'm going to go through how to train them for some basic things, then I'll tell you what to do if your dog has some bad or annoying problems. So sit back, get comfy, and start reading!
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Basic Tricks
When you're training your dog, you have a split second after the dog does something to either praise or scold it. If you do it anytime after that, the dog wont get it, or it'll think that your praising or scolding it for something else it did. That is a big reason that dogs develop bad habits, because the owners may be praising them for doing something bad! Also remember that a dog wont learn a trick just after doing it once or twice. It needs to be repeated over and over again over the course of days, but keep the training sessions short. You may want to have a special time every day to work on obedience. Perhaps every time you feed it, before you give them the food, you ask them to do a trick. This will incorporate what they learned into their daily lives. In additon, never, ever yell at your dog. You see, dogs won't understand what your saying. If you yell at them and call them stupid mutts, your voice being loud will just excite them even more. I've seen people scream at their dogs for barking a lot, and guess what, that just made them bark even more! Lastly, be fair. A dog doesn't deserve to be punished for something that it doesn't know. Patience is key, even if it seems like your dog will never obey you, you have to stay calm and keep trying.

Sit
Teaching your dog or puppy how to sit is always a good place to start and is very useful when you're trying to get your dog to calm down. Probaby the easiest and most popular way to do this is to use a treat. You hold the treat in your fist, and put your fist by the dogs nose so that they smell the treat. Raise your fist over the dogs head. In order for it to be able to still smell the treat, the dog will raise its nose while sitting down. The second the dog's rear end touches the floor, say "sit" in a firm, clear tone, and give the dog the treat. Keep repeating this. Over the course of time, start fazing out the treats. You'll find that your dog will sit just by hearing you say "sit."
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Down
This trick is best done after your dog has mastered sit. First, put your dog in a sitting position. Again, hold a treat in your fist, but this time you move it from in front of the dog's nose to the ground. When the dog lies down, say "down," and give them the treat. It's a very simple trick. As a challenge for your dog, after they have learned it well, would be to try to keep the dog down. Throw a ball away from the dog and let it choose whether to obey you or to get the ball. If it stays down, reward and praise them. If it runs after the ball, ignore them for a couple minutes, and then try again.
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Come
This is probably one of the most important commands that your dog can ever learn. A dog can be dangerous if they don't know this, that's why you have to remember never to let your dog off a leash out in public until they are experts at this. You can start teaching your dog to come by if, for example, your dog follows you around a lot, you can reward it every time it comes to you. This will get it into the dog's brain that you like it when they come to you. You may also kneel down and hold a treat while calling your dogs name or "come." If your dog comes, reward them and keep reinforcing.
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Leash Training
Training your dog to be comfortable with a leash is needed (unless you enjoy having your dog pull your arm off the second you take a step outside.) To start with, have your dog or puppy get used to a collar. Using a lightweight collar, put it on your puppy when it's distracted, like when it's playing or eating. It's going to try to scratch the collar off, but don't think, "Oh, the poor puppy, that collar must hurt, I think I'll take it off for now." If you do that, how will your dog ever learn to wear a leash? Give your puppy time to get used to it and forget about it before you remove it. After your puppy is comfortable with a collar, you can get them accustomed to the leash. Clip the leash on and let the dog drag it around the house (under supervision.) After your dog is good with a collar and leash, you need to pick up the other end of the leash. Start by taking short walks around the house. If your puppy stays by your heel and on a loose leash, praise them and give them a treat. If your puppy starts pulling, however, stop walking. Don't ever yank on the leash. If you stop, the dog will realize it's not going anywhere when it pulls. If it comes back to you, praise them. Eventually, you'll be ready to take it outside.



Kicking Bad Habits

Excessive Barking
Before I get into stopping excessive barking, you should know why dogs bark:
  1. To express needs
  2. Some dogs are bred to bark
  3. Alerting others of danger
  4. Staking out territory
  5. Excitement
  6. At other animals
  7. Separation anxiety
  8. Trapped
  9. Expressing dominance
  10. Boredom or stress
  11. For attention
  12. Just for fun
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If your dog barks, don't yell at it, because you'll just excite it more. However, you shouldn't cuddle or pet the dog, since that makes the dog think that you like when it barks. If your dog is barking its head off outside, don't let it inside until it stops barking, since that would also send a message to the dogs brain to bark a lot.


Barking at the Phone or Doorbell
If your dog barks a lot to a ringing phone or doorbell, you need to get your dog desensitized to it. Your dog may be barking at those noises because it's scared of them. If your dog gets really used to them, however, it'll hardly notice when the phone does start ringing or when someone knocks on the door. How to desensitize the dog is this: You have someone call your phone or ring your doorbell many times. While they're ringing and your dog is going wild, just stay calm and ignore the noises and the dog. If you do this multiple times repeatedly, your dog will realize that those strange noises are nothing to be scared of. If the phone or doorbell ring and your dog is quiet, reward them. If none of this works and your dog is still barking, try changing the type or volume of your phone and/or doorbell.

Dog Barking While your Not at home

If you know that your dog has separation anxiety while your away, you can try the following:

  1. Make sure your dog has fresh water, is well exercised, and has a comfortable place to sleep
  2. If you know your dog has been barking while you were away, try ignoring them for a while when you get home. This will be thought of as punishment in the dog's head.
  3. A Citronella No Bark collar; it sprays citronella in the air when the dog barks. We humans can't really smell citronella, but dogs can, and they don't like it. This can stop your dog's barking too. Don't use it for more than one dog.
bark_dog_collars.jpg <--Citronella No-Bark collar
Dogs Barking for Attention
If your dog is barking for attention, that may mean that you aren't paying enough attention to it. If that's not the case and your dog is just a barker, here's what you can do: When your dog is barking, take a treat and hold it in your hand, and say "Quiet." Keep saying it if they aren't quiet. If they are quiet for a couple seconds, give them the treat and keep reinforcing. This'll let your dog know that you like it better when they're quiet rather then when they're barking. After a lot of practice, you may be able to just say "Quiet" and your dog would be silent.




Dominance

When a dog is being dominant, that means it think that its the leader, and you are its pets. This may mean that you're being too soft on the dog and are not punishing it for the wrong things it does. It may also get this idea if you are feeding it scraps from the table while you and your family eat. If the dog is expressing dominance, you have to make them know that you are the alpha dog. Dogs are descended from wolves, and wolves lived in packs. In those packs, there was an alpha wolf, which was usually the biggest and strongest wolf, and the other, weaker subordinate wolves. Your dog has those same instincts. Your dog shouldn't be acting like the alpha wolf. You are the alpha wolf. If your dog doesn't see it that way, it won't ever listen to you and can become agressive. One way to cure your dog from dominance is to show that you're boss. In wolf packs, the alpha always eats first. Therefore, don't give your dog food before you eat. You and your family should eat first (don't give in to the dog if it begs for food) and then you can feed your dog. In order for your dog to see that you control the food (which implies that you are the leader) hold the food in your hands until the dog settles down and sits in front of you. Then give the dog its food. I'm not saying you should be mean to your dog in order for it to know you are leader, but you shouldn't go too easy on it when it needs to learn a lesson.

Submissive_Wolf.jpg <--- A submissive wolf and an alpha wolf. Can you guess which is which?

Fun Facts on Dog Body Language :)
  • When dogs lie down on their backs and show their tummies to you, you may think they just want you to scratch their belly, but actually, your dog is telling you, "Your the leader, and I'm the weaker one, so don't attack me." Wolf packs in the wild show this behavior too. The same thing applies when its licking your feet or your face.
  • Tail: If the dogs tail is wagging freely, that means the dog is happy and friendly. If the tail is wagging slowly and stiffly, the dog is angry. When the tail is low over the hindquarters, this means that the dog is anxious or afraid. A nervous dog will wag its tail stiffly, but the tail will be drooping.
  • If the dog's eyes are wide open, it's angry, but if the dog's eyes are narrow or half-closed, the dog is happy.




Bibliography



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