Don’t be guilted by puppy dog eyes! Get the tips for taming bad pet behavior
By Melinda Dodd from Woman’s Day; March 3, 2009
Your puppy has broken into the pantry for a fifth time, and now he’s staring at you with those I love you eyes, trying to pretend that nothing has happened. As always, you find yourself thinking, I should take him to a trainer. But times being what they are, you hate to fork over the $200 (or more!) fee. Don’t worry. We’ve got everything you need to tame your savage beast.
Puppies have a natural curiosity and lust for life, so you have to channel that energy and make it work for you, says Kevin Behan, author of Natural Dog Training.
Step 1 Establish a solid framework for effective training. Make sure your home is a calm, safe space for your new puppy. Stroke and handle him as often as possible so he gets used to human contact.
Step 2 Start with the basics. First, teach him his name. Every time he responds to it, give him a treat. Next, get him used to the leash. “Carry him to a spot away from the house, and let him lead you back,” says Jack Volhard, head of Volhard Dog Training in Culpeper, Virginia, and coauthor of Dog Training for Dummies. If he tugs the leash, turn your body the opposite way. He’ll follow you, then bound ahead.
Step 3 Train him to sit, stay and heel by holding treats at waist height and moving them in a slow circle, mesmerizing him, advises Behan. “When you hold food above a puppy’s head, he’ll automatically sit or settle back on his hips,” he says. Gradually incorporate hand gestures and verbal commands. Once he’s mastered that, teach him to come by trotting backward quickly (leash in your left hand, a treat visible in your right) while repeating the word come, says Volhard. Reward him every time he obeys.
Dos and Don’ts
Don’t ever say your pup’s name in anger, as a reprimand. “It undermines the relationship you’re trying to build with him,” says Volhard.
Do create a “relax zone” (inside) and a “play zone” (outside). Many puppy problems (chewing furniture, peeing in corners) can be averted by reinforcing these zones. “Playing indoors winds dogs up,” notes Behan. “Let dogs loose outside, where you can shape their energy and enthusiasm to your ends.”
Don’t yell at your pooch when he makes a mistake. It can scare him and make him fearful of people, says Behan.
Do teach your pup the meaning of No, says Behan. Put food in a bowl and lower it to the floor. As your dog gets excited, say “No” calmly but firmly and pull the bowl away. Repeat a few more times. Eventually his excitement will fade and he’ll lie down. Now set the bowl down. The result? Your puppy learns that No means Stop, be patient.
For more training tips and techniques, visit the official Natural Dog Training Blog.
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Books about Natural Dog Training by Kevin BehanIn Your Dog Is Your Mirror, dog trainer Kevin Behan proposes a radical new model for understanding canine behavior: a dog’s behavior and emotion, indeed its very cognition, are driven by our emotion. The dog doesn’t respond to what the owner thinks, says, or does; it responds to what the owner feels. And in this way, dogs can actually put people back in touch with their own emotions. Behan demonstrates that dogs and humans are connected more profoundly than has ever been imagined — by heart — and that this approach to dog cognition can help us understand many of dogs’ most inscrutable behaviors. This groundbreaking, provocative book opens the door to a whole new understanding between species, and perhaps a whole new understanding of ourselves.
|Natural Dog Training is about how dogs see the world and what this means in regards to training. The first part of this book presents a new theory for the social behavior of canines, featuring the drive to hunt, not the pack instincts, as seminal to canine behavior. The second part reinterprets how dogs actually learn. The third section presents exercises and handling techniques to put this theory into practice with a puppy. The final section sets forth a training program with a special emphasis on coming when called.|