Some people believe that dogs need to be trained when they're young. To some extent for our own sanity that's true - especially with housetraining, and teaching your dog that chewing your shoes/slippers/anything that's accessible, is simple not acceptable.
But despite the old adage "You can't teach a old dog new tricks", it's perfectly possible to teach a dog of virtually any age new behaviours and even party tricks, if you like. Basically dog training boils down to rewarding your dog when s/he does something you like, and correcting your dog when s/he does something you don't like. Good training establishes an appropriate relationship between you and your dog, and it ensures that your dog understands what you want of him/her.
Of course, the dog may become somewhat set in his/her ways, and be less inclined to be interested in learning. My dogs tend to look at me a little suspiciously these days if I try to introduce a new command. But once they get the idea that I'm giving them a new way to please me, it doesn't take them too long to start to comply.
The idea is to teach your dog to make his own decisions (believe it or not!) Not complicated decisions, of course, - just whether to do something or not. If your dog makes the right decision, s/he'll be rewarded. If your dog makes the wrong decision, s'he'll receive a corrrection and the opportunity to then choose the right decision. Simple!
I've been reading some professional dog training secrets. They reminded me of an absolutely crucial point when training a dog - that consistency is critical with your dog. Because your dog is always looking for opportunities to elevate him/herself in the heirachy of your household, even just a little bit ... if you don't insist on a certain behaviour every single time, or conversely if you allow a misbehaviour even once, your dog gets a mixed message about what's acceptable and what s/he can get away with.
As an example, if you've taught your dog to come when called, the only way you can be certain s/he will come every single time you give the command, is if you don't give your dog a choice until you're 100 percent certain your dog will respond to your command every single time. That is, you must carry this training out with a long leash or rope, so you can make your dog come each time you call him/her.
Adam's ebook is over 300 pages long and explains all of this in much greater detail and not only tells you exactly how to train your dog to respond to specific commands, but also the most effective ways to prevent unwanted behaviours, and to have a much better behaved dog in general.
What I really like about Adam's strategies is that his methods utilise the dog's natural instincts and drives, and because you treat the dog as if s/he is a member of your pack, rather than a child of your household, you actually end up with a happier dog. Some of the methods described in the ebook are somewhat controversial, but I'd really recommend that you read the arguments he puts forward and make your own decision. I LOVE the ebook. Granted, it's not a literary masterpiece - actually it doesn't flow as well as it might, and it's somewhat repetitive - but the information contained in it is priceless.
(c) 2005, Brigitte Smith, Healthy Happy Dogs
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Brigitte Smith is a dog lover with a special interest in holistic dog health.
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