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Behaviour and Training Advice

KEY POINTS

-Use reward based training. Praise your dog for desired behaviours you would like to make them more likely to perform again.  Never use physical punishment.

-Socialise your puppy from a young age.

-Be consistent with your training.  Changing the rules can cause anxiety and confuse your dog. Make sure everybody in the family is consistent.

 

BEHAVIOUR AND TRAINING

A well-behaved dog is a joy to have around. To ensure good behaviour throughout its life, training should start as early as possible, and your dog should be fully socialised. We can put you in touch with various local trainers to assist in the process. There are many great books that give more in-depth advice if required.

The key to successfully training your dog is to make it fun. The kindest and most effective is known as ‘positive reinforcement’ or ‘reward based’ training.

How does reward based training work?

The underlying theory is simple: if a dog behaves in a certain way e.g. sits then receives a reward, the dog will want to be rewarded again so by repeating this several times there is a high chance he/she will behave that way again.

Rewards are

  • Audible praise: ‘good boy’
  • Physical praise: patting/stroking
  • Treats- toys/food
  • Giving reward for desire behaviours make your dog more likely to perform again.

 

With time the reward will need to be given less frequently. The reward you offer needs to be something high value so as a favourite toy or treat. The reward must be given once the command has been completed. Don’t make the sessions too long or your dog will loose interest. Keep the training fun and positive and end on a high point each day e.g. when a pet had learnt a new signal. Try to teach one signal at a time. If they make a mistake remember not to reward until he/she gets it correct the next time .Never punish for making the mistake as this causes anxiety, pain and fear. Never scold or shout.

Discourage inappropriate behaviour by ignoring it or directing them to a more appropriate behaviour. It’s never too late to train your puppy but the sooner the better. Remember puppies learn by the response they get from you. Never scold or shout at your dog.

 

Socialisation

Dogs have a socialisation window up until 16 weeks when they are open to new situation and the environment. After this age anything new they haven’t come across before will be met with apprehension. Therefore it is important to socialise your puppy from a young age. Expose them to sights and sounds (e.g. cars, bikes, pushchairs, hoovers, hairdryers) meet other dogs (that are vaccinated and healthy), adults and children.

 

Chewing

If you catch your dog chewing something they shouldn’t you need to interrupt the behaviour and offer them an acceptable chew or toy instead and praise them for exchanging it. Don’t leave things lying around so your dog is less likely to get hold of inappropriate things. Supply appropriate toys, chews and puzzle games to keep your dog entertained.

 

House training

Puppies should be let out every 2 hours, after waking and if you see them sniffing about. They should be rewarded for toileting outside but ignored when they foul inside. Telling them off will cause anxiety and delay learning. Expect accidents in the first few weeks.

 

Play Biting

This is normal dog behaviour but it is important to teach a puppy that it is not acceptable. When bitten say ‘ow’ and most puppies will loosen their grip. Praise them when they do. If it doesn’t work then walk away from you puppy and ignore the behaviour or isolate them for a short while for him/her to calm down. Don’t encourage and chewing or the hands or feet as this may not seem much a problem when they are small but can be difficult to discourage when the puppy is bigger and the behaviour becomes unacceptable.

Handling your dog

It is important to get your puppy used to being handled. Try and get your puppy used to opening the mouth, touching the face, gums and teeth and feeling the ears, paws and claws. Start by only doing it for a few seconds and give praise if they accept it. Then extend the time. Doing this will reduce the stress of being examined and will also help in recognising what is normal for your dog and to pick up problems early.