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The Top Five Dog Training Tips Your Dog Wants You to Know

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Dog training can look like sorcery to the untrained eye. However, a few key tips can help you ‘decode your dog,’ get better results from your training efforts, and enhance the bonds you have with your inquisitive canine.

Mini Doodle Dog

Understanding more about why dogs do what they do, and what your pet wants and needs, can help you get more of the behaviors you want- and less of what you don’t want. These five tips can help bring out the best in your best friend starting today:

1. Know your dog.

Dogs are individuals, with varied likes and dislikes, and distinct personalities. Knowing your dog really well allows you to create a training plan that caters to their strengths, making it easier for both of you.

Seeing what really gets your dog jazzed – liver treats, a game of fetch, a trip to the dog park – can help you select the most motivating reinforcers when you’re working on new behaviors. Knowing your dog well will also help you have realistic expectations for what they can achieve.

2. Set yourself - and your dog - up for success.

Dogs are so incredibly adaptable that we often forget how confusing our human world can be to them. Make things easier by managing your inquisitive canine’s environment. We need to do what we can to prevent unwanted behaviors from being practiced and/or inadvertently rewarded. Are you clearing off kitchen surfaces to prevent counter surfers from succeeding in their quests? Stave off unwanted behavior by changing the environment rather than trying to change the dog.

3. Think hard about the question, “Why is my dog doing this?”

Understanding the “why” behind a behavior, from a dog’s perspective, can help with training. Consider whether what’s happening is normal behavior for inquisitive canines. Dogs eat, eliminate, chew, dig, and bark; and all of that is entirely natural. These behaviors can and should be directed to appropriate channels. Remember, dogs are problem solvers, so help direct their problem-solving energy to something productive. Ask yourself if you are providing ‘legal’ outlets for innate canine behaviors. It’s important that a dog’s world is interesting and enriching. Your pooch may simply be doing the unwanted thing because no one has presented another option!

4. Reward what you like.

It’s easy to miss it when your dog is behaving perfectly, but it’s important that you “catch them in the act” of making good choices. As you reinforce the behaviors you like, they’ll happen more often. That’s just the science of behavior. It can be tempting to focus on what our dogs are doing wrong (because humans are problem solvers too), but it’s much more helpful to focus on what we would like them to do and then lovingly teach them. Ask yourself if you have taught your dog what you want them to do, when to do it, and where to do it. Need help? Proceed to Tip #5.

5. If you're stuck, seek help.

If you’re stuck at any point along the way, seek help from a professional, force-free canine behavior consultant. With this type of support, pet parents can better understand how dogs learn and how they communicate, can develop practical problem-solving (and problem prevention) skills, and gain confidence applying techniques learned in training sessions to real-life situations.

Any good behavior program begins with a strong human-canine relationship. So, these five strategies, the foundation of The Inquisitive Canine philosophy and methodology, can help you train your dog while enhancing the bond you share. As Albert Einstein once said, “Peace cannot be kept by force. It can only be achieved by understanding.”

Here’s to you and your inquisitive canine succeeding as a team!

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