Training your unruly dog

Training your dog should have started when he was a cute, cuddly little puppy. Even a small puppy can learn the basics of good manners and toilet training with food related incentives and a determined, persistent approach from his owner. Shouting and smacking doesn’t work. Gentle but firm handling is required.

The most common problem to deal with is obviously training your dog not to use the inside of your house as a toilet. It is very important to start this training as soon as you bring your dog home. If you are dealing with a small puppy, it is essential that you feed him at the same times during the day and that you take him outside to relieve himself after he has eaten – every time. It is also important to take him outside every time he wakes up from a snooze as that is premium time for a dog to need the toilet. Every time he obliges by relieving himself outside, you should give him a tidbit with an excited ‘good boy’. He will soon learn to associate the action with a pleasant reward and will be only too happy to oblige! An older dog that is already set in its ways might take a little longer and will require its owner to be constantly alert to his signals. These include sniffing the floor, scratching the floor/carpet and making small circles, Immediate action is needed! The same principals apply – reward and praise when the deed is done outside. He will soon learn that it is more rewarding to please you and you will be well on the way to a perfectly house trained dog.

Other unruly behaviors like jumping up, barking at anything and everything and chewing furniture can also be dealt with by firm but kind handling. Often a simple distraction such as clapping your hands will catch his attention and then a firm order such as a firm ‘No!’ followed by ‘sit’ can be rewarded by a tidbit that he enjoys. The important thing is to change his focus from the unwanted behavior and to reward the desired behavior immediately.

Most dogs can be trained if the trainer is consistent, persistent and determined. Dogs need to have respect for their owners but not fear. They need to know that, in the pecking order, the owner is ‘top dog’.

By not training your dog to practice certain acceptable forms of behavior, you are doing him a great disservice. No-one likes a badly behaved pooch! A well trained dog is happy, healthy and a pleasure to have in your home.

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