Training can provide a fresh start for your dog, whether he’s newly adopted and still learning the boundaries of his new household or a longtime family member who needs a brush up on his manners. No matter how old your dog is, training that emphasizes rewards can help to reframe patterns of interaction in a way that rewards and builds desired behavior in place of undesirable habits. This is a win-win situation for you and your dog: You get less barking and more behaving, and he gets rewards for doing what he’s asked.
Go to your spot
One of the most useful behaviors you can teach your dog is to move to a designated spot — like a mat or his bed — when asked. Teaching this behavior can help solve a variety of problems, including begging at the dinner table and dashing out the door. Teaching your dog to go to a designated spot can also provide a strategy for steering your dog away from problem behaviors like jumping or chasing the cat. In each of these situations, your dog replaces an undesirable behavior — jumping or chasing — with a behavior that you reward with treats and praise.
In addition, “go to your spot” can be useful when you and your dog are navigating situations where your canine may need to be directed to a designated area — for example, when you’re unloading groceries and don’t want your dog underfoot or when guests are arriving or leaving and you need to be sure your dog isn’t tempted to slip out an open door. “Go to your spot” can also help to increase your dog’s independence by reinforcing that it’s OK for him to be separated from you for limited periods of time.
Car doors are the portal to fun, but beyond them, danger lurks. A reliable ‘wait’ command will prevent your dog from launching out of the car and into traffic.
·Standing outside the car, ask your dog to wait, and slowly begin to open the car door. If your dog begins to move towards you, immediately close the door.
·Wait for 15 seconds, and then try again.
The goal here is to get your dog to stay behind the door until you have it fully open, and let them know it’s safe to exit with a release word like ‘okay’ or ‘free’. Your dog learns that if they are too eager, they don’t get to leave the car. When they are calm and paying attention to the cues, their reward is to get out and explore the world.
“Wait” also works well at regular doors and gates. If your dog attempts to walk through before you’ve given them your release cue, the door quickly closes in front of them.
Teaching your dog to tolerate and respond to touch offers one more way to get your dog’s attention when he is exhibiting behavior you would rather not see. Touch can be used to redirect your dog when he engages in unwanted behavior; training him to allow you to touch or gently hold his collar can be useful for situations where you need to get his attention in order to ask for an acceptable behavior.
Training him to accept being touched by unfamiliar objects can also be helpful in minimizing certain fears and eliminating the related behavior. If your dog hides when it’s time to trim his nails, try introducing the clippers by simply touching them to his paw and rewarding him for calm behavior.