Dogs engage in a behavior because it is a reinforcing
behavior. For example: The dog jumps in
the pool so as to feel cool, the dog scratches on the food bowl so as to get
fed. Also, the dog stares at you and
barks so as to get you to feed him from the table, or the dog jumps up on you
so as to get your attention. These
examples are about a dog doing something to get a desired consequence. At one point in their history, the action
paid off with a desirable consequence to them, and so they do it again.
In dog training, we take advantage of this fact of life and
teach the dog that a particular action on their part will result in a positive
consequence. In other words, we
reinforce that particular behavior. So,
in training, we will be strengthening the behaviors we want by rewarding them
with food, praise, toys etc.
When training your dog, you are essentially teaching him a
new language- the language that will serve as a communication bridge between
you and him. What this means is that you
must always be clear and consistent. The
rules being taught must always apply so as to not confuse him. Think of dog training as a black and white
concept, as opposed to a gray one. Gray
areas are obstacles to the bridge we are building because they don’t give the
dog sufficient feedback.
The amount of time it takes a dog to associate the
consequence of an action with the action itself is approximately 1.5
seconds. In other words, you have a 1.5
second window of opportunity to teach a dog something. For example: the dog sits beautifully, right
after he is told to do so- the reward should come at or very close to 1.5
seconds so as to show the dog you are happy with his actions. The longer you take to react after this, the
more unlikely it will be that the dog associates the action he preformed, with
the consequence you provide.
When training your dog, there is really no room for
anger. Anger tends to frighten a dog,
which will only set you back in your training and get in the way of your bond
with him. When the dog behaves in an
undesirable fashion and we feel anger, then it is best to leave the training
for a later time when we feel more even-tempered. It is important to have fun with your dog
during training. Indeed, it requires
discipline and attention on both of your parts, but it should be a happy,
entertaining activity that you both enjoy.
That will only increase the likelihood of your dog’s full attention
during training and help strengthen your relationship
1) Puppy-proof your home. Instead of constantly reprimanding a young puppy for getting into things, puppy-proof any areas of the house to which your puppy will be given access, in much the same way one would child-proof an area for a baby:
- Temporarily take up any throw rugs.
- Place all plants, poisonous substances,
household cleaners, trash receptacles, paper products (such as tissue and
toilet paper), shoes, and any small chewable objects out of reach.
- Remove, cover or tape down all accessible
- Remove or secure heavy objects which
could fall or be pulled down and cause injury to the puppy.
2) Limit the number of toys. While all dogs should
have toys to play with, the problem with providing your dog with too many toys
is that it makes it more difficult for the dog to differentiate what’s his from
what’s yours. Do not provide a destructive puppy with more than a few toys at a
time. Rotating your dog’s toys will keep
the toys new and exciting to your dog, so he would go looking for new toys.
If your dog is chewing on soft items such as sofa cushions
or pillows, do not give your dog any plush toys. Plush dog toys with squeakers, often increase
your dog’s prey drive, making them want to destroy and get the squeaker
out. Once the dog has destroyed his toys
he will go looking for something else to “kill”.
3) Safely confine your puppy.
Use a suitably sized crate or wire-reinforced puppy gate whenever you’re unable
to safely supervise him. When introduced properly and used correctly, crate
training is a safe, preventive, effective and humane housetraining tool, which
provides the puppy with a secure, protective den, while offering his owner
peace of mind. Please note: Introduce your dog to his new crate using positive
association and never use his crate as a punishment.
4) Offer him lots of outdoor exercise. Dogs that are destructive indoors
need one to two hours of active outdoor exercise daily, provided they are fully
immunized. Teaching your dog to retrieve a ball, toy, or Frisbee will help cure
his chronic chewing problem.
Attention, Exercise, and Mental Stimulation
Dogs need social interaction, physical exercise, and mental stimulation
– just like children do – in order to grow up to be healthy and well
adjusted. When these needs are not met, many behaviour problems can
How much daily social time does a dog need? A good rule of thumb is that
a dog should spend at least half his waking hours each day interacting with
other dogs and people. Like humans, most dogs enjoy a mix of old friends
and new encounters – so make sure your pup meets at least one new dog or person
each day. While dogs do need to learn to spend time alone, too much
isolation will make them antisocial, anxious or depressed. Allowing your dog
regular access to his familiar doggie buddies as well as the chance to meet new
dogs will increase the chances of him being socially content and well
Physical Exercise & Mental Stimulation:
Your dog’s brain and body BOTH need lots of exercise. Swimming,
playing tug & fetch, and playing with other dogs are good brain AND
body work-outs. Walks on leash are not always physically exerting, but
they do provide a lot of mental stimulation: all the outdoor smells, sights and
sounds are very interesting! Working on obedience skills requires lots of
doggy concentration, and your dog will love the mental challenge of figuring
out new things. Make sure you exercise your dog’s brain AND body