Here are the top ingredients necessary for an easy-to-live-with dog:
Give your dog attention and rewards when she is practicing behaviors you want repeated. Examples of good behaviors to reward are sit, down, eye contact, greeting guest calmly, etc.
Ignore, redirect or prevent behaviors you don’t want your dog to repeat. It is extremely important to use a strategy that will make your dog less likely to repeat undesirable behavior again in the future. Work with a qualified professional dog trainer to determine which strategy is best for each particular situation. When in doubt simply don’t put your dog in the situation that causes the undesirable behavior. Always take safety measures when working on fear, arousal or aggression issues.
Management. Management means setting up your dog’s environment so it’s easy for her to make the right choices—and difficult to make the wrong ones.
The top areas to focus on:
- Dog Proofing. It’s time to connect with your inner neat freak–or develop into one. Keep electric cords, shoes, laundry, etc. well out of your dog’s reach. (When your dog establishes good habits over a period of several months, you can put everything back in its original place.)
- Use of a tether, leash or baby gate. In initial training stages use tools like a tether, leash or baby gate to make it impossible for your dog to practice undesirable behavior. For example, your dog can’t jump on a guest if he is behind a baby gate or run out the front door if he is on leash. Make sure you introduce tools positively before using them in a challenging situation—especially when using a tether.**For safety never leave your dog unattended on a tether.
Brain Exercise. Exercising your dog’s brain is just as important as exercising his body. The good news? It’s much less sweat-inducing than body workouts. Here’s how to do it:
- Spend a minimum of 10 minutes a day training your dog. A few short and fun training sessions—for example, (3) five-minute sessions—are better than one over-long session.
- Puzzle toys. Are you feeding your dog out of a bowl? Then you’re wasting a big opportunity. Instead, use a treat-dispensing toy. It’s a terrific outlet for your dog’s energy–and she’ll love feeling like an expert forager.
- Nose work. Nose work is hide-and-seek for dogs: You hide food and your dog searches for it. Make the game downright easy to start, then get more creative.
Supervision. Dogs with bad habits that are left unsupervised only refine those bad habits in your absence. Habits like chewing on your furniture, using your carpets for potty purposes, barking nonstop will only get worse the longer your dog practices them. But if you supervise, you can redirect your dog to chew on dog-approved toys, take her outside to potty, and find constructive ways to entertain her. This pays off in the long run because she’ll learn to replace her bad habits with good ones.
- What to do when you leave? Leave your dog in a dog-safe confinement area where she cannot harm herself or get into trouble.
Physical Exercise. Dogs have four legs for a reason-they need a lot more exercise than we do. Running that engine is essential to your dog’s physical and mental health. Great workout sessions might be: Playing with other dogs (only appropriate for dog-friendly dogs), playing tug with rules, retrieving a ball in the backyard, and going on walks.