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No, Spot, No: Bad Dog

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Does your dog constantly disobey or ignore you altogether? It’s not a lot of fun when you go for a walk with your dog and you can hardly walk out of the door without him jumping on you and taking the leash in his mouth.

We went through this last spring with one of our dogs. I was constantly frustrated and upset. We had to bring in a dog behaviorist for help.

There are some very easy things you can do immediately so you’re dog can be a well-behaved family member:

Walk your dog everyday. The more often you can do this, the better. Dogs get bored easily and need to expend their energy. Walking will calm them and relieve a lot of anxiety. It also gives them a chance to explore and get some exercise.

When walking your dog, hold the leash with your right hand. Make sure your right hand goes through the loop leash and wrap the leash loosely around your right thumb. This will ensure that you have a secure hold on the leash. Your dog should always walk on your left-hand side.

This is the proper form most trainers teach their clients; it will ensure that you are always in command and the dog knows his place. Make sure there is slack in the leash. You want to avoid a taut leash — it can cause quite a bit of discomfort for your dog or even cause choking.

If your dog starts walking ahead of you or starts lagging behind you, quickly snap the leash. This will get his attention and he’ll learn that the snap of the leash means he needs to pay attention to you and correct his behavior. Avoid the impulse to tug or pull on the leash; this will only encourage your dog to pull in the opposite direction.

Praise your dog constantly. If he does something good, praise him by saying his name while patting him cheerfully. If he’s walking properly on his leash, or if he’s obeying your commands, praise him. If you open the car door and he sits and waits for your command, praise him. If you open the front door and he doesn’t go charging past you, praise him. He will eventually understand that he is doing something right. Positive reinforcement is key to getting your dog to behave.

Don’t ever let your dog be on the same level as you. No sitting on the sofa or sitting at the dinner table or sleeping on your bed. Dogs are pack animals and need to understand that you are the boss, the alpha of the pack. You should always be higher or taller than your dog, especially when you are giving him commands.

If he’s going to sleep in your room, bring in a dog bed and place it on the floor. If you don’t adhere to this and allow your dog on your furniture, and basically have full run of the house, your dog will think he is your equal — or worse, your leader.

Before feeding your dog, make sure that he sits on command. You need to have full control of the situation, so it’s important to establish this routine. If you don’t, dogs can get rambunctious and jump all over you when it’s feeding time. Before you start playing with them, again, make sure he obeys one or two commands from you.

Dogs love your attention and will do anything to get it. They will quickly learn that if they do something right, they will be immediately rewarded.

When you discipline your dog, never say his name. A quick, firm and loud “no” or some other negative command will do. When you start saying his name when he’s in trouble he will become confused.

Is he receiving praise from you?
Should he continue with this behavior?

If you find that when you call his name to “come,” he probably remembers back to a few minutes ago when you were calling his name and scolding him for digging. Don’t send your dog mixed signals.

Make sure you work on your commands every day. You need to be consistent and not allow your dog to dictate your life. Always remember that you are the pack leader; you just need to act like one.

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