Basic principles of good dog training

 

Always reinforce good behaviour

It is much easier to teach a dog to do something you want than it is to teach them to stop doing something you don't want. From the time you first get your dog or puppy, any time they do something you like, reinforce it with whatever your dog finds the most rewarding. When a dog learns that a particular behaviour feels good they'll do it more often! 

 

Set the dog up for success

Don't put your dog into a situation you haven't properly prepared them for just so see what they will do or try to test them. Putting a dog in a situation they aren't ready for can be very confusing for the dog and cause the dog to want to avoid that situation in the future. 

 

Be consistent and fair

Set rules that are fair and reasonable and stick with them. Your dog can't follow the rules if they don't know the rules because they're changing all the time. For example: don't correct a dog for jumping on you while you're wearing your good suit if you let them jump on you all the time when you're not wearing it. The dog can't tell the difference, and they will not understand why they are being corrected. Its unfair and very confusing for them when they can't predict a correction, and does a lot of damage to your relationship with the dog and the trust they have in you. 

 

Be a leader, not a "boss"

Dogs respond to and respect good leadership. It’s not about being an “alpha”, "showing them who's boss", or being dominant, it's about being someone they respect and naturally want to follow! Without the presence of a leader, your dog is going to look elsewhere or they will try to fill the role themselves. Dogs are not equipped with the skills and knowledge to be leaders in our world and its unfair to put them in that position. Lead by example, lead fairly, lead respectfully, lead with structure, and lead consistently. 

 

Have fun!

Dogs are masters of reading body language, and you're never going to convince a dog that training is fun unless you genuinely believe it yourself. A dog that sees training as fun will always learn more and end up much better trained than a dog that sees training as something they have to do. Food, toys and praise are all great ways to motivate your dog during training. Dogs don't have very long lifespans and we don't get nearly as much time with them as we should, so make the most of the time you do have and have as much fun as you possibly can with them!