I’ve had many people ask me “how do you train your dogs to behave so well?” It’s a tough question to answer, honestly, as most of the training I do is not done consciously. I don’t set schedules for training; for example: “I’ll train the dogs for one hour this weekend”. Basically, my dogs are constantly being trained. Every hour of every day of their lives. I do not tolerate unruly behaviour, so they get corrected each time they exhibit a behaviour that I don’t want, and praised when they exhibit behaviours I DO want.
Positive and negative reinforcements are amazing things! Whenever the dogs do something “bad” (like, chewing on wires, barking for no reason, trying to escape the gate, etc.), they get a stern “NO” from me. So, they quickly learn what behaviours are not to be tolerated. When they do something good, (e.g. pottying outdoors, chewing on toys instead of furniture) they get lots of praise: “good boy/girl!”
This is why I can bring my dogs pretty much everywhere. When I bring them to restaurants, I put them on the chairs/sofas right beside me and they NEVER make a fuss. They sit nicely and wait for me to feed them some food. They don’t jump on tables, jump off the sofa, or even try to steal food. I myself was pretty amazed at how well behaved they were the last time I brought them out!
The key is consistency. You can’t expect a dog to be well behaved if half the time, you’re not saying anything to him when he’s doing something “bad”. Start from a young age—as young as possible! Dogs are much smarter than most people give them credit for. They easily understand “good!” and “no!” from a young age.
I also make sure to teach all my dogs certain fundamental commands: sit, down, drop it, off, come, and stay are my top priority. The most important one in my opinion, is “stay”. I find it much easier to teach than recall (come), and it has saved my dogs many times in dangerous situations. For instance, there have been a couple of times when Cadence has tried to chase a squirrel onto the road, but the moment I yelled “STAY!” he stopped dead in his tracks, unmoving.
My dogs have very, very solid stays because I train it several times a day (not even on purpose!). Every time they are let out into the yard to pee/poop, they are not allowed back in until I get the baby wipes to clean them up. So, they are made to “stay” at the door while I grab the wipes from the kitchen. This happens without fail every single day, maybe 3-4 times. That’s why they know that “stay” really means DO NOT MOVE!
The other few commands are drilled into their heads pretty much every day as well. Easy, isn’t it? My dogs barely get any formal training time—perhaps once a week? This is when I teach them tricks like “turnaround”, “drop dead”, “rollover”, etc. For Lyra, I used to train her several times a week for the show ring. Only for 10-15 minutes each time—this keeps dogs from getting bored. You want them to associate training with good things, not boredom! I don’t have to train her for the ring anymore, as she remembers everything and is a total pro now!
That’s it! Simple, isn’t it?
Blog for the Dogs
Here's where I chronicle the dogs' daily lives, write reviews on dog products, and share tips on everything under the sun.