Jennifer McCammon, publisher of Spot Magazine, joined us with Certified Pet Dog Trainer, Denise Mullinex to give us tips to train our dogs -- you can teach old dogs new tricks or change bad behavior to good! Here are their tips:
Is it ever too early to start training?
- Birth to 4½ mos. = critical time.
- The impressions – what the pup is exposed to – during this time – can have a lifelong effect.
- Socialization = most important thing
- Expose puppy to every kind of people, sights, sounds, other animals and the sites/sounds of everyday life — scooters, skateboards, cars, fireworks, thunder. KIDS.
- Comfort with all of these things can stave off fears and phobias that can later lead to even more serious stuff, like biting. (This may fly off the tongue easily, but if you pause & think for a moment about the horror of having your dog bite a visitor or child, it’s BAD.)
- Interestingly, one of the main causes of stress response to things like thunder or fireworks is often lack of exposure (or isolation) in the first mos. of life.
- Top Tip for puppies – meet 100 different people in positive ways in the first week. Also, check out puppy kindergarten classes - very cool!
CAN you teach an old dog new tricks?
- Most important – marker or cue word
- You have about 1-1½ seconds of your dog’s attention in which to help him make the connection between a behavior and the reward.
With all tricks or training – huge key – practice, practice, practice.
- Do it consistently,
- Be patient
- Provide a space conducive to learning – no distractions * noise, activity.
How to change unwanted behaviors:
- First find out what’s motivating your dog and then figure out how to NOT encourage it.
- A good example is jumping on people. When we push them down with our hands we’re still touching them, which is reinforcing the behavior.
- You’ve got to consistently NOT reward a behavior
- So in the case of jumping up, you need to turn your back, don’t look, don’t touch.
- Better still, teach the dog to sit.
- With all tricks or training, a huge key is practice, practice, practice.
- Do it consistently, be patient w/ your pup, and be sure to provide a space conducive to learning – no distractions like noise or activity.
- Dogs do what WORKS.
- When they discover behaviors you like – based on touch, praise, treats – he’ll want to do them, will do them, and eventually do them as habit so that rewards eventually aren’t required.
- It all boils down to: Instead of teaching DON’T, teach them what to DO
Dogs do what WORKS. When they discover behaviors you like – based on touch, praise, treats, he’ll want to do them, will do them, and eventually do them as habit so that rewards eventually aren’t required.