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Step One - Understanding Your Dog

First and foremost, understand that you are working with an intelligent animal, trying to get them to conform to human rules. Accept that your dog will never be human. Your dog is an animal first and foremost. Their breed is what gives them distinctive features and potential jobs, by design. The key to working with your dog is to accept that nothing they do is relative to their name, or anything applied to them, in an attempt to humanize their existence.

In working to help your dog find their position in your pack, you have to be the pack leader. Accept your position in your dog's life, from their perspective, as a pack animal, to better equip yourself with the mental tools to successfully train your dog.

In every instance of training to alter or create a specific behavior, it takes work and consistency. Your dog wants to please you, so it's clear that the majority of work is on YOU. You have to commit to the time, patience and consistency required to achieve success with your dog.

The key is NOT to dominate or force obedience through startle or fear methods that have been used for centuries. In fact, if your dog comes from a puppy mill or bad history, this method of training may well backfire on you and leave you and your dog in a situation that may be irreversible. Eventually, their instinctive nature will kick in and they may well lash out to protect themselves against perceived attacks.

Learn to position yourself, in your dog's mind, as the leader. You must work to ensure that your dog accepts and responds to you as the leader of the pack. To allow your dog to dominate their world, in turn, allows them to be the leader of their world, and yours.

Refrain from "yelling," "tossing bags of rocks," "slamming sticks or hard objects on the floor," or ANYTHING that startles or instills fear. These may be quick solutions, but should not be considered a method of training any animal you expect to survive in your home, as a family member.

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Think about it, would you rather obey out of "fear" or learn what is acceptable and react to encouragement and consistency? Although effective in stopping a bark or behavior, aggression by sound or physical actions are temporary solutions and do NOT address the problem. Why is the dog behaving this way? You need to Understand why your dog does what they do and work with that. And, you need to identify your part in the problem, to ensure that your dog is working to please you, not reacting from fear of you.

In all of our tips for training, re-training, obedience or other issues, we highly recommend methods founded in animal learning theories, as presented in the well known Pavlovian conditioning. This requires an understanding of the innate behaviors of a dog as an animal, as a breed, potential living conditions or histories, as well as what works best for your particular living situation.

Be calm, be assertive and be consistent. No training tips or methods will work, unless you are willing to commit to the time needed to work them into your dog's regular routine, daily. Because animals do not live in the past or future, they need reinforcement and consistent actions from you at all times.

Know that the dog does not react to your words or language, they react to tones and body language. They don't come to their name, they come to a familiar tone. Refrain from excess in harsh or soft tones, that are not natural to your everyday language.

Although baby-talk makes us feel better, it is useless and counter-productive when trying to train your dog to take what you want them to do, seriously. Unless this is your normal tone of voice and you're willing to talk like that all the time, give it up, it's not useful! You need to maintain a controlled, assertive tone. Remember that dogs have a keen sense of tone and deviating from your normal tone is a "cue" to a dog.

You will NEVER see a puppy leading the pack. Talking like a baby to a dog is not only confusing to them, it asserts little value to the dog. You are their pack leader, so talk like a leader; Calm, assertive and focused.

If a dog does something you don't approve of, are you going to "goo goo, ga ga" at them? Maybe you'll yell at them? Perhaps you use a nice even tone, when it's time to eat? Time for a treat? Time to trick them into taking a bath? And, their reaction to these? If you're consistent, they are consistent. If you resort to pleading at any point, you have reduced your position, allowing your dog to be the leader.

The dog has no idea what you want them to do, based on words. Frankly, if you are consistent with tone and the fact that when you speak, they need to react, it's simply a matter of adding visual and verbal cues to get them to follow through with the appropriate actions.

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Regardless to breed, getting yourself into a mind set of "leverage" versus "dominance" will help you develop your skills in training your dog. You need to learn how to modify your dog's behavior based on what they need, what you want them to do, and taking control of what they want.

You have the control over their wants, and they have to learn to to do what needs to be done, to get that, when it's appropriate, not when they demand it.

Are they wanting attention, food, treats, access to the yard? You need to tune into what cues your dog is giving you for these things. Pay attention to, and take control of, these cues, as well as any behaviors they exhibit, that needs to be addressed. Use those cues to your advantage, utilizing consistent reactions and commands that your dog will accept and understand.

When it comes to unacceptable behaviors, keep in mind they didn't develop over night. Your dog gave you cues, and reacted to not getting what they wanted. And, what may be adorable when they are puppies can be a real problem when they become adults.

When training your puppy or dog, always keep the idea of "life-long" learning at the forefront of your methods. The number one key in working with your dog is consistency.

If your dog has an unknown history, the same method of consistency and behavioral training will work. It may take a little longer to earn the trust of an older dog coming from bad habits, but establishing your position as the pack leader that is calm, assertive and consistent, is no different.

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