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Three “Secrets” to Training Your Dog

By Lindsay Thompson & Charleen Engberg Capital Humane Society

Dogs are intelligent, sensitive animals that can learn excellent manners and fantastic tricks with proper training. Positive reinforcement or reward-based training brings out the best in dogs and helps build trust between a canine and their human. Here are three “secrets” to help you be successful with training. 

Determine the motive behind your dog’s behavior!

Does your dog jump up to greet you or beg for your food? These behaviors are motivated by the dog’s desire for attention.  

Does your dog not respond to commands like “sit” or “down?” This behavior can be mistaken for stubbornness or lack of intelligence, but it is still attention in the dog’s mind. 

Determining the motivation behind your dog’s behavior can help you train them.

Work on creating new skills instead of fixing problems!

Training teaches a dog which behaviors to offer to get what they want. It is easy to view undesirable behaviors as problems to fix. Training teaches your dog new skills to modify behaviors and communicate better. 

If you have a dog who is constantly pining for your plate of food, train them to go to a designated spot when it’s time to eat. Providing a high-value treat or toy to your dog at that time creates an association between your mealtime and their special goodie. 

The greatest challenge is training ourselves!

People who love their pets like family usually treat and talk to them like people. Remember: we don’t speak the same language! Successful training depends on consistency, patience, and teaching your animal in the way they actually learn.

If your dog loves to jump up and greet people, simply turning your back to the dog or leaving the room tells them that jumping up is not acceptable. Rewarding “four paws on the floor” with calm loving pets or a treat reinforces the acceptable behavior. 

Do your best to give yourself and your dog grace and patience — training is a process and no person or dog is perfect! Capital Humane Society offers basic obedience and puppy training classes that can provide structure and guidance for you and your furry friend.

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