A Guide to Remembering your Dog’s Training
It’s quite simple really: if your dog is well trained, you both will be happy because well behaved dogs can take part in family life and are welcome in more places!
Although, I know it’s really hard when your dog has been with you for so long to forget the very basic dog rules and training that they learnt as a puppy. You feel like they have been with you for so long that it doesn't matter if you give them a few human scraps of food or let them whine when you’re eating, or even letting them bark constantly even though as a puppy this was ‘naughty’!
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But it’s super important that we maintain and remember our dog’s training. It’s really easy to do in practise but hard to get into the mindset to maintain it. So we are here to give you some simple tips to motivate, influence and inspire that guide to remembering your dog’s training.
STEP 1 - BE FIRM
When your dogs were puppies or even when you first got them and set the ground rules, you had to be firm for them to distinguish between play voice and the tone for them being naughty. We know putting your dog's nose in their toilet accidents achieves nothing and borders on cruel punishment, but what we do know is that a firm tone in your voice helps your dog distinguish between good and bad behaviour.
It may just be that your dog is having a particularly mischievous day and wants to lick the carpet or bark at everything that drives or walks by the house, but if this is not allowed make sure to let them know!
STEP 2 - MAKE IT FUN
Remember when they were little or you first brought them home and you had to make going outside seem like the best walk of their life, even though they literally just needed to pee and poop and then you’d bring them back inside? Well, if your dog is misbehaving, remember to make the rules fun! They will respond so much quicker and even if you follow through on the first time and make a mistake yourself, your dog will not be afraid of trying again.
If the dog makes a mistake further, you have to remember they are conditioned to what you teach them; so make sure you are in a position to help your dog get it right and it stays that way!
STEP 3 - HOW CAN YOU FORGET YOUR NAME?
As your dog gets older it can sometimes get so excited on their walks or adventures, that they forget to come back when you call them or listen to you or even walk properly on a leash.
If there is a real issue with your dog whilst on walks, maybe consult a behaviourist or trainer but more often than not you can revert back to training you did when you first got them. You can show your dog a toy or food so they remain close, maybe even run away a couple of paces and allow them to come to you. Ensure when you call their name, you say it in a happy and playful tone so they know they are being called back to ensure they are safe, not because they are in trouble; if they think they are in trouble and they are not directly near you, they could run away or hide to avoid punishment. I mean no one likes to hear their name being called in a negative tone so make sure the dog comes to you and you maintain a happy dynamic with them until you know you are able to attach their leash again.
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To clarify, it’s really important you do not break the trust of your dog. If you know your dog is misbehaving, keep them on their leash during their walks. If you take them off the leash and call them nicely and then once they have their leash on again, shout at them, they may not come back at you calling their name for fear of being punished.
STEP 4 - PRAISE BE
Just like humans, we can have a period of sadness, rebellion or plain anger at the way we have to behave (the classic “I am fed up!”). Maybe your dog is just feeling that way too. So, make sure you praise your dog when they behave. Make a big deal out of their positive behaviour vocally (try not to over treat for positive reinforcement otherwise they may become reliant on the reward) and they will repeat the positive behaviour, which benefits both them and the family.
STEP 5 - PROACTIVE NOT REACTIVE
Dog training at the best of times is a craft and requires patience, comfort and anticipating the dog’s reactions but being reactive instead of proactive can be a key factor in your dog not repeating behaviour and just giving up all together on their training.
If you are simply reacting to your dog’s misbehaviours, you are losing the opportunity to teach! Practice your technique, anticipate their reactions and the possible reality that they may not react the way you want them to in the first instance. If you anticipate you are becoming more proactive and this benefits both your dog and you.
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Example: if you know your dog barks every time the postman rings the doorbell, anticipate the bark before it happens. If you hear the postman approaching the house, answer the door before they ring the doorbell. Or simply catch your dog right before his brain tells him to bark and distract him with something else that will allow his behaviour to be more acceptable at that time. Whatever the stimulus is that causes the misbehaviour needs to either be eliminated or redefined as a “good thing” for your dog. This makes you a proactive paw-rent.
Another way to enforce the above example is to allow your dog to associate the cause as a positive stimulus. For example, if the postman ringing the doorbell causes your dog to bark, maybe they can instead knock on the door or you arrange something with your local postman to ensure any packages that need to be signed for requires them to knock on the door or window or beep their car horn instead. Sometimes, it is not as simple as telling your dog off and it being ridiculous to adapt your life for your dog, but if the cause cannot be eliminated, you cannot expect your dog to learn any different; be proactive NOT reactive.
Dog training especially after the initial training period earlier in their life requires you to be consistent, confident and calm. Remember each dog is different and there may be key ways to train your dog's specific breed; some dogs may require a rigorous training process in order to live in a household such as a husky. But a small chihuahua will likely require a more peaceful, little distraction environment.
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Like we have said before, having a dog is not as simple as ‘having’ them, they are an integral part of your life. They need to be fed, nurtured and walked and everything else in between and that means, just like anything else, you constantly have to look after them and ensure you stick to basic training guidelines. But if you do that you can definitely redefine yourself as their trainer, loved one and paw-rent and not just a passerby in their life. And remember to have fun with them!