Tips on teaching dogs self control.
Training our dogs should be fun and what ever we decide to teach them helps us build a relationship and bond. Some dogs are easier to train than others and it is their different characters that teach us while we are teaching them. For a dog to be pleasant to live with they need to have a certain level of self control over their own natural excitability so here are some ideas to start working with.
- With some food in your hand sit your dog in front of you. Have your hand closed around the food. The aim is for the dog to sit still with your palm open and him still look at you rather than just go for the food. This is a waiting game and you need to be patient so the dog works it out so do not use any verbal cues. When the dog looks at you slowly open your hand with the food in. If he immediately goes for the food quickly close your hand so he can not get it. Hold the hand closed so he gets nothing to eat and wait until he stops mugging the hand. As soon as he stops and looks up at you give him a treat out of that hand, but deliver it with your opposite hand. You will probably need to go through several repetitions of closing and opening your hand until he understands what is required, but be patient. If it is just too exciting to start with then use really boring food that does not smell so tasty and have your hand slightly further from your dog.
- Assuming your dog knows how to sit, put them on a lead and stand by a closed door. Use no verbal cues just wait for your dog to sit. Now put your hand on the handle and open the door. If at any stage your dog rises from the sit quickly close the door. Some dogs may even get up when you put your hand on the handle so repeat this stage until they can stay in a sit. You may want to start on a less exciting door, like an internal one rather than the front door to the big wide world if it is just too exciting. Repetition is key the dog does not get to go through that door until you choose to release him so each time he moves shut the door. By having your dog on the lead you can prevent him from just bolting through but try not to give cues with the lead. When he remains in a sit with the door open you may step through while he is still sitting. Your dog can then be released through the door but is again then expected to offer a sit rather than run straight off. When he can do this he may be released to either run or go on his on lead walk.
There are many self control games and these are just 2 that may get you started but being consistent is key. It is no good doing the doorway exercise and then letting your dog run through the door at other times. Make the exercises a habit for both yourself and your dog and as well as creating a more thinking dog you will improve behaviour and possibly safety.