1. Pay Attention to Body Language
Observe your dog's body language. If your dog appears to be uncomfortable in a new environment or meeting other dogs, animals or people, don’t force the issue and insist he interacts. Doing so can lead to behavioural issues. It's important to make gradual introductions in a safe and controlled manner. The objective is to create a positive association with the experience.
2. Clear and Effective Communication
Generally handlers and owners are good at letting their dogs know when they are none too pleased with their dog's antics. Depending on how its done, this is okay and is a valuable part of the training process. However, surprisingly good behaviour often goes unrewarded and represents a missed opportunities that leads to unbalanced training. Communicating clearly and effectively to your canine requires both positive and negative behaviours to be acknowledged in equal measure. It makes it that much easier for the dog to understand what correct behaviour is and a fairer system for our canine friends. Be generous with the treats, praise and petting.
3. Be Realistic & Consistent
All dogs learn at different speeds and certain behaviours will take time to change or instill. Your dog's age, history, severity of problem and training resources available to you will frequently dictate how long it will take to create a shift in behavior. Note there can be setbacks before improvements are seen. Consistency in terms of when commands are used and what commands are used also play a fundamental role in training. It is extremely confusing for a dog when members of the household use different words for the same command and if they use it inconsistently. For example take a family of 3, one person might use "off" and another "down" when they want their dog off the couch. The third person doesn't mind her dog being on the couch and only "uses" down when she wants him to lay down.
4. Diet & Treats
Ensure a high-quality diet with appropriate amounts of protein is provided. Dogs that get plenty of exercise and spend a lot of time outdoors need a diet with more protein. Money spent on an appropriate quality food can help with training and may often be money saved in vet bills later on. When training your dog be sure to use treats that are of high value to him.
5. Reinforcing at the Right Time
For many behavioural problems the root cause can be the handler or owner reinforcing at inappropriate moments. Usually they either are not aware that they are actually doing this or believe they are reinforcing something else. One example is when a dog wants to play, it brings a toy to it's owner and starts barking to prompt her to throw it. She obliges and throws the toy and her dog has just learned that barking gets her to do what he wants. Now this behaviour could develop into a generic prompt, so that he will bark whenever he wants her to so something. Timing is everything when it comes to reinforcing. At the start reinforce as quickly as possible when you get the desired behaviour. And be mindful of how the dog will perceive this i.e. what is he associating the reinforcement with.
At Hong Kong Canine we offer a number of classes that provide a balance of physical, mental and emotional exercises for your dog. We work with all breeds, ages and sizes.