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Dog Training

When it comes to the best way to train your dog, the sheer wealth and breadth of conflicting advice is often bewildering. Bookstores and pet shops sell a vast array of literally hundreds of different dog books, and each one recommends different training methods—jerk the leash, don’t jerk the leash; use food, don’t use food; always do this, never do that. Worse yet, for the longest time most people have associated dog training with choke collars and leash jerks, assuming the whole process to be a chore and a drag. Wrong, wrong, wrong! An incredible rediscovery has been made in the field of dog training: Training your dog is fun! Better yet, the more fun you and your dog have while training, the faster and more effective training becomes. Luckily for today’s dogs, the popularity of reward-based training grew steadily through the 1980s and 1990s and caused a dog-friendly revolution

In a nutshell, dog-friendly dog training focuses on three things:

✦ Rewarding good behaviors

✦ Preventative management

✦ Using gentle teaching methods

Focusing on Rewarding Good Behaviors

There are two objectives in training your dog: a major objective and a minor one. The major objective of friendly, intelligent pet dog training is to teach dogs to do things we want them to do. The secondary and minor objective is to teach dogs not to do things we don’t want them to do. Dog-friendly dog training zeroes in on the major objective: teaching your dog what you want and rewarding him for doing it. This is the easiest way to train your dog. After all, there aren’t many things we consider “right” for pet dogs to do, so you really don’t have many things to teach. On the other hand, the list of “wrong” things that pet dogs can do is endless, so trying to train by punishing your dog for each mistake would be a lengthy and unpleasant process for both of you. When you have taught your dog to reliably understand you and consistently spend his time focusing on good behaviors, he won’t have the time or the inclination to behave inappropriately. For any natural dog behavior you can come up with, there are lots of inappropriate choices and usually just a few correct ones. For example, imagine the one right spot for your dog to use as his toilet (either outside or inside on papers or pads), and imagine how nice and easy it is to take him to that spot when he needs to go (and reward him for doing so).

Teaching Right Is Easier Than Teaching Wrong

Rewarding good behavior is the central tenet of dog-friendly training. Choosing to focus on rewards rather than punishments is the most important decision you will make with respect to educating your dog. Not only is doing so more fun—for you and your dog!—but it is also much easier. After all, there is a rather short list of right behaviors, but an almost endless list of wrong ones.

“Right” Behaviors

✦ Eliminating in appropriate spot(s)

✦ Playing nicely with people

✦ Playing nicely with other dogs

✦ Playing with dog toys (especially food-stuffed chew toys)

✦ Responding to your requests (to sit, lie down, come, etc.)

✦ Resting calmly indoors

✦ Sitting to greet people

✦ Walking nicely on leash

“Wrong” Behaviors

✦ Eliminating in the house (in hundreds of different spots)

✦ Playing roughly with people

✦ Chewing on your clothes

✦ Chewing on your furniture

✦ Chewing on your plants

✦ Chewing on your shoes

✦ Chewing on your toys (CDs, books, the remote)

✦ Chasing the cat

✦ Digging in your garden

✦ Eating your food off the table

✦ Fighting with other dogs

✦ Guarding objects

✦ Jumping up on visitors

✦ Not responding to your requests

✦ Pulling on the leash

✦ Raiding the garbage

✦ Running away

✦ Barking for long periods

Now imagine the hundreds of wrong places for him to urinate and how long it would take and how unpleasant it would be to punish your dog for going in each of those spots. Likewise, picture your house after your dog has tried out all the wrong things to chew. Now imagine how much easier it would have been if you had just gotten him hooked on a chew toy or taught him the one appropriate place to eliminate

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