Helpful Information

How To Train A Dog...

Establish The Rules Of The House 

And The Sooner You Do The Less Problems You Will Encounter In The Future With Your Dog

How to Train a Dog and Establish the Rules of the House

If you have no idea how to train a dog, fear not! Whether you seek effective puppy house training methods or basic dog obedience training, training your dog will probably be easier than you think.


Puppy training should always focus on socialization and the prevention of unwanted behaviors. The jumping that may be cute in your puppy will not be cute when he grows into a 175 lb. adult Saint Bernard. Rather than focusing on puppy training obedience, you should concentrate on puppy socialization and the prevention of problem behavior through rewarding desirable behaviors, and removing reinforcement for unwanted behaviors through extinction, management, or negative punishment (more on this later!)

How To Train A Dog Step 1: Reward Desirable Behaviour

It is a human tendency to focus on what we don't like, often to a fault. The crux of effective dog training, whether you are house training your dog or teaching obedience behaviors, is to never miss an opportunity to reward your dog for doing the right thing. Dog owners generally like dogs to sit politely, lie down, go settle on a mat or in a crate, or be quiet - remember to click and treat your dog for these behaviors to increase the likelihood that your dog will offer the in the future.

Depending on the situation, the right thing may vary. For dogs that are excited and jump to greet visitors, the right thing may be "four on the floor." Click and treat your dog for all four paws on the floor when a new person approaches or enters the house. If your dog is usually barky when she sees another dog, click her for eye contact or for looking at another dog without barking.

Concentrate on what you want your dog to do instead of what you want your dog to stop doing. For problem behaviors like barking, nipping, jumping, or growling, think of what you would prefer the dog do instead and develop a training plan to get there. If you need help, find a qualified trainer in your area to assist you.

How To Train A Dog Step 2: Dealing With Unwanted Behaviour

Extinction: Extinction involves the principal of "non-punishment, non-reinforcement," essentially, ignoring the behavior. A lot of dogs offer unwanted behaviors because they've "paid off" before - dogs pull on leash because it gets their owners to move forward/faster on walks, dogs bark for attention, jump to greet, etc. Often, ignoring the behavior is the best bet - wait the dog out and then reinforce when he offers an alternative behavior (sits instead of jumping, for example). Extinction requires some patience, especially if the behavior has "paid off" for quite some time.

Watch out for extinction bursts. If the dog is used to getting your attention through barking, and suddenly you ignore the barking, the barking may intensify before it goes away. A human example is a soda machine - if for 20 years your dollar got you a soda and suddenly, no soda comes out, you may put in a few dollars before you start kicking the soda machine in frustration. Then, you give up and try the soda machine on the next floor, which is operating correctly. You must be prepared to ride out the extinction burst or the unwanted behavior may return, stronger than before.

Management: Does your dog counter surf? Get the food off the counter! Dogs counter surf to get food. Managing the situation means crating or gating your dog when food is on the counter, and removing the temptation of engaging in the unwanted behavior by cleaning up when you are not there to supervise. Management is preventing your dog from rehearsing unwanted behaviors.

Training Alternative, Incompatible Behavior - A dog cannot jump or mount if he is settling on a mat. A dog cannot bark if he is fetching a buster cube that fills his mouth. A dog cannot be aggressive with another dog when he is focused on targeting his nose to your hand. If your dog is doing something you don't like, think of what you would like him to do instead and train that alternative, incompatible behavior to fluency!

Negative Punishment: In laymen's terms, negative punishment means a time out for the dog. Negative punishment is very effective for self-reinforcing behaviors - behaviors dogs do because they're "fun." Barking, jumping, resource guarding and nipping can be self reinforcing. For guidance on when to use negative punishment as opposed to extinction - Get in touch with a local Dog Psychologist or Clicker Trainer  in north Essex & south Suffolk

This is but a simple introduction to training your dog. For more help, find a trainer near you. Remember, if the training isn't fun for you and your dog, you're not doing it right! A good trainer will produce dogs that love to work and people that love training their dogs. If either of these elements is missing, seek a new trainer today.

Dog Separation Anxiety and How to Deal with It

Dog Separation Anxiety and How to Deal with It

Separation Anxiety VS. Looking For Something To Do

Separation anxiety (S.A.) symptoms often resemble boredom behaviors, including chewing, dissecting, digging (if dogs are left outside), "accidents" in the house, and excessive vocalization. A close look at your lifestyle will determine if yours is a case of dog anxiety or dog boredom.

Some Dogs Struggle With Modern Lifestyles

According to Raymond and Lorna Coppinger, dogs evolved because humans have inadvertently or intentionally selected for "low flight distance" for millennia - those dogs that were most comfortable in close proximity to humans and their settlements were most likely to receive food from humans. Closeness to humans conferred a reproductive advantage for dogs through increased access to resources.

Traditionally, this arrangement worked well for dogs. Then and in many rural areas today, leashes or fences were few or non-existent. Dogs could roam off-leash, greeting other dogs, chasing squirrels, rabbits, deer, woodchucks, cats, and the occasional skunk or porcupine. Crashing happily through woods, fields, and streams, dogs exercised their bodies and all their senses. Many worked closely with their owners all day hunting, herding, carting, or guarding. These dogs would then return home exhausted, crash on the floor to happily receive belly rubs, and sleep until morning. Very few dogs living this type of lifestyle suffer from separation anxiety.

Automobile traffic makes this type of lifestyle dangerous for dogs now, and busy modern lifestyles and long working days make similar stimulations impractical and out of reach for most dog owners. This is a conflict of interests - what is in the best interest of the dog (plentiful mental and physical stimulation) conflicts with the owner's desire to relax after a long day.

Ask Not What Your Dog Can Do For You, But What You Are Doing For Your Dog

How much exercise does your dog get? How much daily training? How often do you play with her? How long are you separated each day? How often does she socialize with other dogs appropriately?

Many dogs have deficits in socialization (with humans and dogs), mental stimulation (training, toys, play), and/or physical stimulation (running, swimming, walking, hiking, playing). Make sure to provide your dog with an opportunity to engage in all three daily. If dogs are not provided with this stimulation, boredom digging, chewing, barking, will likely ensue. Fulfilling basic needs remedies behavior problems related to boredom.

Puppy Separation Anxiety

Separation anxiety can take root in puppyhood - now is the time for prevention. It is always better to prevent than untrain; so provide your puppy with "stuff to do" in your absence (stuffed Kongs, a visit from a puppy walker to play/walk), and always remember to make entries and exits to the home very low key (these are good tips for adult dogs as well!). Practice separation as a behavior, starting with a small duration and gradually building as your dog is successful.

If you must say goodbye to your dog, do it well before you plan on leaving (at least a half hour in advance) and get it out of the way - remember that this is for your benefit - not your dog's; dramatic goodbyes will only teach her that separation is cause for stress. Wait for calm behavior before greeting your dog upon your return home, and keep the greetings quiet, relaxed.

Identifying Separation Anxiety In Dogs

If your dog's basic needs are being met and you still suspect separation anxiety, look for the following symptoms: extreme destruction of property or self (tearing walls apart, bloodying paws trying to escape from a crate, breaking or cracking of teeth trying to escape the house or enter if left outside, anorexia/inability to drink fluids when left alone, inability to be separated from you (even briefly, in another room) while you're at home, and anxiety behavior related to one specific individual in the household (dog is not relieved by the presence of other household members in the absence of the attachment figure). If you note these symptoms in your dog, consult with a behavioral professional for guidance.

Dog Separation Anxiety Solutions

Dog separation anxiety treatment should include desensitization and counter-conditioning to the attachment figure's absence as well as the environmental cues which predict her absence (grabbing keys, putting coat/shoes on, sunglasses, starting the car, etc.). For extreme cases, it is best to bring a veterinary behaviorist into the rehabilitation team, as some S.A. dogs can benefit from conventional or alternative medical treatments. For dogs with hormonal or neurochemical imbalances, desensitization and counter-conditioning may need to be accompanied by medication or supplementation. For these dogs, neither medical nor behavioral treatment will be successful without the other.

Subpages (1): Aggression Issues