It’s YOUR MIND….
Truthfully, whatever dog training program you choose, the most important training tool in your arsenal will be your own mind. It is in your mind that everything happens….
1. How you perceive your dog
How you think about your dog is very important. Separate your dog’s behaviour from your dog. Behaviours can be changed! No matter what he does wrong, your dog is not inherently “bad.” He just doesn’t understand what YOU want of him. That’s it… that’s all there is to training. Tell your dog what you want and what you don’t want.
When you catch your dog doing something right, use upbeat praise like “Good girl,” “Atta boy,” “What a good dog,” “Good puppy.”
Thinking of your dog as a “puppy” is important because a puppy always needs your support, direction, and protection. It’s just like they tell you to do when talking to your kids! Have you ever watched “Nanny 911” or “Super Nanny”? Use a higher pitch when praising and a lower pitch when correcting. I very successfully use words like “no” and “hey,” as well as commands like “Leave it!” But always said in a low voice. Lucy gets it right away! And she knows I’m praising her when I’m prattling in a high-pitched voice, “Good puppy, whose a really good puppy?” How can I tell she understands? By her body language. When we’re walking it would be ears back, prancing. Relaxing at home it would be tail wagging, “smiling.” Smiling? Yes, you know that look!
And, by the way, dogs are the only animal that can recognize facial expressions, so remember to smile, smile, smile!
2. The consistency of your training
The success of any training program depends directly upon your dedication, your consistency and the amount of time you put into the training. Period! Do not blame the program until you’ve given it your all! Lucy is going to be March’s “Puppy of the Month” at Sit Happens Dog Training, but she was ready for that award almost from the beginning of her training! Why? Because I worked with her every single day… everything was a training opportunity. And I still look for opportunities to use her training every day on our walks and around the apartment building, too. Sit outside the elevator, sit inside the elevator, heel in the hallway, sit while I unlock the apartment door, wait until I say “free” before entering the apartment… and on it goes.
3. How well you establish your leadership qualities
Everything you do must reassure your dog that you are the one in charge of… well, everything. Food, water, treats, exercise, a secure place to sleep, safety, toys, play, friends, car rides. You name it, you’re in charge. You are in charge, but you must also be a fair and kind leader. Note: Kindness doesn’t mean letting your dog sleep in your bed… unless you want her to.
Remember that dominant dogs earn fewer privileges than submissive dogs. With a dominant dog, strong leadership will be imperative! A dominant dog might growl if you let her on the bed, then try to get her off! If that happens, the privilege is LOST! Get that dog off the bed and she stays off. Yes, you can try it again after several more months of successful obedience training, but if it happens again, that privilege is gone forever.
If you use a training method like the e-collar, training a dominant dog will be easier than you could ever imagine. My little Lucy is not a submissive dog. I have never seen her show her belly to another dog! She had a harder time learning the “down” command than any other command… because it’s a submissive posture. However, she will now drop to the ground instantly. She hasn’t lost her attitude or suddenly become submissive to every dog she meets, she just obeys me. It makes life very easy for her… and for me! And when I say she had a harder time learning that command, I just mean that it’s the only command she has tried to resist.