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Expert Tips for Training Your Dog continued...

Understand Your Dog's Perspective

  • Both Fisher and Bruce say that, in order to train a dog, it's essential to be able to see from the dog's perspective. If you want to change a behavior, you need to understand what the dog gets from the behavior and use that awareness to help in the training.

Be Consistent

  • According to Hanson, when you are training a dog to unlearn a behavior, such as jumping on people, it's important to have all family members on board. That helps with consistency. Then the task is to reward the behavior you like -- not jumping -- and prevent the one you don't like from happening. One way to do that is to instill an alternative behavior such as sitting when people come in. "A dog can't jump if it's sitting."

Use Behavioral Cues for Learning

  • Bruce says when a dog is not responding to a cue, there can be a couple of reasons that explain why. One possibility is the dog may not have associated the cue with the behavior. That's because the dog doesn't learn the two together. It has to learn the behavior first and then learn to associate it with the word or signal. A second possibility is that the behavior and cue haven't been proofed in multiple settings. "Your dog may come to you when you call it inside your house 100% of the time. But that doesn't guarantee it will when you're outside and a squirrel is running up a tree. " When you're outside or somewhere new, there are an overwhelming number of distractions. It's necessary, Bruce says, to work with a new command in multiple settings to ensure the dog will react the way you want in the midst of those distractions.

Socialize Your Dog

  • Socialization doesn't end with puppyhood, Bruce says. It's a lifelong process. And good socialization is a matter of exposure. Find as many opportunities as you can for your dog to interact with other dogs and other people. You need to create opportunities for that to happen. Regular walks in a busy park can help. So can making regular play dates with owners of other dogs.

Trainers know that the more dogs learn early in life, Fisher says, the more they will learn throughout the rest of their life.