Happy New Year! With the start of the new year, I thought it would be a good reminder to help get you started off on the right foot (paw?) with training your dog. Here are my five things for you to leave behind in 2021 or to change for 2022:
- Stop using aversive tools like prong, choke, shock and poorly fitted martingale collars. Make the switch to a properly fitted no-pull harness or train your dog to comfortably wear a head halter.
- Stop being stingy with food. Many of the things we ask dogs to do are against their natural instincts. “Don’t chase that squirrel! Come to me instead!” Praise is NEVER enough but especially for “expensive” behaviors like coming when called. Pay with good food and pay often. My newest wall art in my office says “ALWAYS BRING TREATS” and that is a mantra you should carry with you into 2022 (and beyond!)
- Abandon high expectations. All too often we want and expect behavior change and training to be instantaneous. We live in a fast paced world where we can get same day delivery. Dog training and behavior modification takes time, with dogs and with people. Think about your New Year’s resolutions. If changing habits and behaviors happened quickly, you wouldn’t need resolutions. Be patient and train incrementally. And ALWAYS go at your dog’s pace. Rushing things will not make behavior change faster and could set your dog back.
- Don’t set your dog up to fail. Manage your dog’s environment and interactions to set him up to succeed. Don’t expect a dog to just “learn to deal with” scary situations or to perform tasks that are too hard for where you are in training. Doing this will cause you both stress and won’t help you achieve your training goals.
- Stop trying to DIY your training. Sure, maybe you can train your dog basic skills on your own but I guarantee it won’t be as efficient or effective as working with a professional. But for dogs with fear, aggression, reactivity or separation anxiety, you need a professional to help you with training plans, management and more. Not doing so risks making your dog worse or even being a public safety risk if there’s aggression issues that could result in a bite from poor training mechanics, poor management or not understanding how to read your dog’s communication.
Let’s work together this year and help you and your dog succeed. You can schedule a session so we can review things in more detail.