Using Dr. Karen Becker's 5 tips below consistently and working them into your everyday routines is not only a great way to progress your dog’s manners and social skills but also builds a relationship founded on trust and mutual respect. Second chance dogs may have had previous experiences that make them wary or avoidant of harsh tones and force-based dog training, so using only methods of training that promote trust is ideal. They will build confidence and learn to look to their new family for support when they are scared or unsure.
The goal is to use very small-sized treats (pea sized is good, and you can even use frozen peas if your dog seems to like them) and verbal praise and affection to encourage desired behaviors in your dog.
1. Come up with short, preferably one-word commands for the behaviors you want to teach your
pet. Examples are Come, Sit, Stay, Down, Heel, Off, etc. Make sure all members of your family consistently use exactly the same command for each behavior.
2. As soon as your dog performs the desired behavior, reward him immediately with a treat and verbal praise. Do this every time he responds appropriately to a command. You want him to connect the behavior he performed with the treat. This of course means you’ll need to have treats on you whenever you give your dog commands in the beginning.
3. Keep training sessions short and fun. You want your dog to associate good things with obeying your commands. You also want to use training time as an opportunity to deepen your bond with your pet.
4. Gradually back off the treats and use them only intermittently once your dog has learned a new behavior. Eventually they’ll no longer be necessary, but you should always reward your dog with verbal praise whenever he obeys a command.
5. Continue to use positive reinforcement to maintain the behaviors you desire. Reward-based training helps create a range of desirable behaviors in your pet, which builds mutual feelings of trust and confidence.
Get a trainable tail-wagger of your very own from January 23-26 for a reduced adoption fee of $100 in honor of "Train Your Dog Month". All dogs go home spayed or neutered, micro-chipped and vaccinated. You will also recieve a voucher for a free training consultation with Helene Joregenson, owner of Happy Pack Dog Training. You can see all of our available dogs at washhumane.org/adopt.