Dog Training & Behavior Tips


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Abby, “I am sitting perfectly. Could I get my food now, please?”

If you want to start your puppy or newly acquired dog on the right path, these are some of the things I recommend pet parents to do:

  • Start working on training and behavior modification as soon as you get your dog
  • Set rules and boundaries so your dog knows what is not acceptable
  • Be consistent and give clear instructions
  • Provide your dog with adequate physical and mental exercise
  • Get the whole family involved in raising this puppy/dog
  • Give structure to his every day life
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Abby, “Wow! So many things to see and smell.”

One thing, I’ve realized after training a variety of dogs, many pet parents forget to do is expose their dogs to different environments, people, sounds, etc.  Abby is sensitive to sound just like many other dogs therefore she goes everywhere I can take her.

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Some pet parents have told me, “I don’t know why she doesn’t behave.  She went through 2 obedience classes.”  Well, the answer is simple, training was provided, but behavior modification was not.  Training and behavior modification is a lifelong commitment and process, but take my word for it, the bond you develop with your dog and the enjoyment you’ll get from living with a balanced canine companion is priceless.

27 responses to “Dog Training & Behavior Tips

  1. Good tips! Thanks for liking my post about my Small Brown Dog. As you know, we just got this little one. She’s about a year old. I think she was an apartment dog before. She acted strangely with grass – only wanted to potty on the pavement. I felt bad for her. She’s does well with potty pads and now is okay with going outside in the grass (we have a nice backyard for her to run and play in!). She’s a doll. To reinforce the potty training, I give her a treat every time she goes outside to potty (since it appears this is a new experience for her).

    However, I have 1 problem. She has chosen 1 spot in the living room to relieve herself. Sometimes she will do it right in front of me. At first, I thought she was confused – she’d just arrived and we were getting used to each other. Now she’s been here a month and she’s still doing it. I keep telling her “no” when I catch her doing it, and move her immediately to her potty pad. She has one by the back door where she goes out. I’ve cleaned the floor repeatedly with that special spray that has enzymes and supposedly discourages dogs from urinating there again by removing the scent.

    Any suggestions?

    • Keep up the good work. You are reinforcing a behavior you want from her: going to do her business outside. Yes, a few suggestions: the spray you are using works with some dogs and not others because of that I prefer to use vinegar; once you remove the smell of her own pee, she will stop doing #1 in that spot; if you live in a cold climate, you’d need to get her to use a sweater or shirt so she is not cold which could make her want to pee; and control the amount of water she drinks. I give Abby a nice amount of water every time we are about to go out the door. In her previous home, she had lots of accidents, but with us it’s only been a few times and to be honest, they were my fault. I hope this helps:-)

      • Thank you for your encouragement! My neighbor mentioned vinegar and I tried it one day, but she still did it. I will try using that again daily. We live in Miami so no cold weather here (and we are so thankful for that! :).

        I didn’t think of controlling her water intake. I’ve always just left a bowl of water for her all day long. She’s been doing these “accidents” mostly after dinner so I’ll pick the water up after that and then make sure she goes out. She seems to be afraid of the dark, but we’re slowly getting her used to it. That may be part of the problem.

        Thanks so much for your response and the encouraging tone of it! It helps me know that I’m headed in the right direction. I wish you lived nearby so you could train her with me. 🙂

      • You are doing the right thing with your furry kid. By the way, since we live in Massachusetts, the last time I give Abby water is 8pm. We get up at 6am and right before we go out the door she gets to drink water.

      • That’s very helpful! One other thing came to mind. Is there any way to encourage her to go potty outside more often and only use the potty pads if no one is there to let her out? For instance, today I left the back door open so she could come and go in the backyard while I was around working. But instead of going outside to go potty, she went to the potty pad. I give her a treat every time she goes potty in the grass so I’m hoping that will be more desirable to her in the long run.

      • Perhaps giving her a treat only when she does it outside.

  2. Excellent perspective and advice! Nothing like experiencing those wonderful a-ha moments when our pups do something we’ve been working on for what seems like ages. Kudos. ღ

  3. ~Proud to be Step~

    I love the comment about involving the whole family. We purposely took my stepdaughter to the orientation pet training class we took our puppy too! We actually had her try to do the commands they talked about, we each took turns with them. I think she really enjoyed it, but now we can always say… “remember what the trainer said to do?” – I think that will be very helpful with our training.

    • I am so glad you did that. I wish more people would do what you did:-)

    • I wish the other family members had gone with me when I took Kita for training. She’ll listen to me (especially if a goodie’s involved), but she’s sometimes a bit slower to listen to other family members.

      • That’s because she bonded with you when you were training her.:-)

      • Katheryne Koelker

        Oh, but Kita was with us for about a year before I tackled the formal training. We got her (as a rehome) when she was 8 months old; she had to stay in my room at first because she was in heat. We also had an adult male Akita at the time.

        I tried training her myself before going into formal training. I took her to all of the classes. Of course, I have some family members who think I shouldn’t use treats, too. Treats are what gets her attention, and that is what the trainer used.

      • Using treats is used for training in order for the dog to associate training with something pleasant like food. The reward could also be a favorite toy, your affection, etc. Dogs are individuals and you have to find out what works for your dog. I use treats with the dogs I train. I am doing that with Abby, our puppy, and eventually I will use less and less and/or sporadically. At the beginning, what I am looking for is getting the behavior that I want. Once she is 100% trained, I will start rewarding her sporadically. Keep up the good work. Yes, you should use treats:-)

  4. Would this apply even to a 3-year-old dog? I am currently working with Kita on coming inside calmly (she is outside till I get home because our elderly Chihuahua doesn’t like her).

    • Training and behavior could work on a dog of any age as long as you also know your dog’s limitations. Alex, my 13 year old pit mix, was my right hand, or as they call it, my demo dog, but she hated to do obedience, but she was amazing at behavior. I knew her limitations and/or dislikes so I got her to “work” with other dogs on behavior modification and she was amazing:-)

  5. Wise tips. I think most pet training problems are really people problems. We have a resident dog and a foster, both of whom need some work. We aren’t regular in our training so we get the expected result. It’s true that the more structured you are, the faster the returns.

  6. Thanks for adding the point about exposing them to various stimuli (as much as they can tolerate). After raising a lot of foster puppies, I developed a long checklist. Like “eat from various containers (metal bowl, porcelain bowl, flat plate, floor, plastic bowl, human hand, etc)” and “walk on various surfaces (grass, dirt, sand, water, concrete, metal grille, wood, stairs, open stairs, tarp, ball pit etc).” Some of it happens naturally in daily life, but it was a helpful reminder to me to make an effort to do more in order to help the pups get used to as much variety as possible.

    And yes, it’s a lifelong commitment and well worth it! 🙂

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