How to stop unwanted behaviors and encourage good behaviors.
If you’re looking to change something your dog does or doesn’t do, there are two things that need to be put in place in order to see real success.
The first thing you want to do is prevent the dog from doing the opposite of what you want. This is an important step in breaking unwanted habits and creating new ones. Common management tools include: crate, leash, muzzle, long line.
Most people manage their dogs behavior thinking it’s training. But, if you aren’t actively teaching the dog what you want, then everything will fall about when you stop managing the dog and find yourself in a real life situation in which you need your dog to listen in.
Assuming you’ve set your dog up for success by preventing them from doing what you don’t want, then it’s time to set up a training plan to teach them what you do want. Below are a few common behaviors that people struggle with along with a suggested management and training plan.
Jumping on people
When you’re expecting people, put the dog in the crate or on leash to prevent them from getting to people. Do not let them get attention until they are settled down and no longer demanding attention.
When no one is over, practice teaching your dog to go to their bed to lay down. Once they understand how to go there and stay there, add in distractions like ringing the doorbell or knocking on the door. If they get up, use the leash to guide them back to the bed. If they stay, feed them. Once your dog can handle set up distractions, practice the same with people actually coming over. Hint: if your dog can't stay when a household member walks through the door, then they will most likely fail when a stranger comes over.
Listening off leash
Keep a leash or long line on the dog at all times to prevent them from learning that they can run away from you, do this even if you're in a fenced in yard.
Teach them to come to you when you call them. Check out this video series for help on that.
Having accidents in the house
Keep your dog either on leash or in the crate during house training so they don’t learn to sneak away and go potty in the house somewhere. Proactively take the dog outside often, especially if they are running and playing a lot in the house.
Train your dog to ring a bell if that’s what you want. And reward the dog every time they go to the bathroom outside. If you catch them having an accident inside, don’t yell at them, just rush them outside to see if they need to finish. For more help on house breaking, check out our Puppy Training Series.
About the Author: Jen Banks has been training dogs professionally since 2008. She started her own pet dog training company in 2014. Owner and trainer at Banks K9 Solutions in Fitchburg MA, she provides group classes, board and train, and in home training for families and their dogs. Read more about her here.