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MJ's Animal Blog

Wednesday, December 19, 2018

Training And Socializing Your Dog

Photo Credit: Pixabay
Training and socializing your newly adopted companion can be more difficult when you adopt from a dog rescue or shelter. However, with time, patience, and regular training your dog can become a happy, well-adjusted family member.
           Even in the most caring and loving home, time is crucial for him to adjust to a new home and family. Your dog’s past history, including the stress of being relinquished to a shelter, can affect his confidence. Be patient while he adjusts to his new surroundings, whether it takes hours or months. Be consistent and provide a predictable day-to-day environment.
           Establish pack leadership with your dog to start. Every dog can rise as an alpha dog – leader – or a follower depending on your interactions with him. Show your dog you are the calm, confident leader by setting boundaries. Don’t allow him to climb on the sofa or your bed until you have told him it’s allowed. Only pet your dog when he is calm and submissive, not jumping or sitting still. Walking right past the dog when you come in the house teaches them that you determine when it’s time to get attention. Obviously don’t allow poor behavior such as chewing on the couch or jumping on you when you walk in the door. Since it’s an adjustment period, your dog may struggle to follow you, or he may react negatively such as peeing on the floor. Address behavior problems immediately; keep assertive in your behavior and choose not to coddle them.
           One of the best ways to alleviate the stress from a past life or weeks in a shelter is to create a routine for your dog. Make a schedule. Most trainers recommend walking a dog before you feed him. Try to establish a set routine for walking, feeding, playtime, and bedtime to provide stability. Dogs may need to be walked twice a day. This also gives you the opportunity to work on leash training.
           Teach your dog manners through training. To be safe, assume your dog has never had any training. Dogs don’t actually understand words, but they can tell by the tone of your voice. Some people prefer to train dogs with hand gestures or a clicking tool. Depending on your experience, enrolling in dog obedience class can aid in learning commands and socializing your dog. When training at home, less is also more. Stop with the training session before you lose their attention. If they have done it once correctly, it is better to stop instead repeating it and having them fail the command. You want the last memory of the command to be correct. Grab a handful of treats and start with these commands:

Sit

           Facing your dog directly, hold a treat close to your dog’s nose. Move your hand up which allows his head to follow the treat and lower his backside. Once he is in the sitting position, say “sit”, give him the treat and affection.
Photo Credit: Pixabay

Stay 

Once your dog has mastered the sitting position, teach him how to stay.  Open the palm of your hand in front of you and say “stay.” Step backward a few paces. Reward with a treat and affection if he stays – even for a few seconds. Increase the number of steps as your training progresses.
           Come: Learning the come command can help get your dog out of trouble, in case he gets off the leash or the door gets left open. Put a leash and collar on your dog. Give yourself as much space as you can between you and your dog. Go down to his level saying “come” while gently pulling on the leash. When he gets to you, reward him with affection and the treat. Practice the command in a safe, enclosed area without the leash, until he has mastered it.

Down

Teaching this command will require a lot of patience because he has to be in the submissive posture. Try putting a hula-hoop in the spot you want him to be down so that he knows his boundaries. This can also help with teaching your dog to stay. Being positive and relaxed, take a good smelling treat and hold it in your closed fist. Hold your hand to your pup’s snout and as she sniffs it, take your hand to the floor so he follows. Slide your hand along the ground in front of him to suggest his body follow his head. Once he is completely down, say down and give him the treat and praise. If your dog tries to sit up or lunge toward your hand, say “no” and pull your hand back. Since he’s in a submissive position and you don’t know his past history, don’t push him into a down position. Repeat often and daily!

Leave It

This command can keep your dog away from harmful food, objects, or animals. Curiosity is said to kill the cat, but you don’t want your dog chasing after a skunk either! Put a treat in both of your hands. Show him one enclosed fist with the treat inside and say, “leave it.” Ignore any behaviors such as licking, sniffing, mouthing, pawing, and barking. Once he stops, give him the treat from the other hand. If your dog can handle this, try it with two different treats. Place the lesser favored treat on the floor, cover it, and tell him to “leave it.” Wait until the dog ignores the treat and looks at you. Remove that treat from the floor and give him the more desirable treat and praise and affection. Back off your amount of control over the treat by gradually moving your hand father and farther away until the hand is about 6 inches above the treat or you can stand up. Be patient!

Walking Your Dog/Heel

Walking with your dog at your side is a task for a well-socialized dog. Choose the right leash and collar for your dog. You may need a slip collar or harness. Get a leash that is 6 feet or less. Ask your dog to walk at your side – some people use the word “heel” or “with me”. When your dog pulls the leash, stop immediately and do not move. Once there is slack, you can use your command word again and start moving forward. You may have to turn directions to get your dog’s attention. Give affection and treats as he listens.
           Use these positive reinforcement behavior training techniques to reward good behavior and ignore undesired behavior. Please refrain from adding to your dog’s stress by terrorizing or hitting him. Your dog’s adjustment period may take longer than you wanted it to, but the results will be worth it in the end!



Michael John Kulick
My goal with this venture is to give these pets a fighting chance in finding a good home for them and to let people know about the health benefits that come with owning a pet. I believe that every is unique and that each dog can cater to different people.

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