In my experience, I don’t think I’ve found a perfect way to raise my dog, but have discovered some simple guidelines that are helping me get there. A very important thing to remember is that dogs are not solitary animals. They are a pack animal, meaning they inherently seek companionship, love, and direction. Here are a few rules that have helped me raise my dog to be a good, obedient, and most importantly, happy pup.
1. Be selective about when you praise your dog
This doesn’t mean you aren’t allowed to spoil your dog with love. It is good to praise your dog, just be sure to give praises when they are doing something that you appreciate. For example: if you are busy or working, and your dog is being calm and quiet, it is O.K to praise him/her. This pattern will register in their mind and will likely be calm in the future when you need him/her to be. Try to praise your dog whenever they are being a good boy/girl! This is a great way to encourage good behavior.
This may seem like an obvious one, but it’s such an important rule that I had to include it. Walks have incredible benefits that many owners might not know about. By walking your dog, you are feeding their innate need to explore and mark territory. This means that your dog is likely to be more content and calm at home after a nice long walk. It also expends excess energy – when your dog has expended most of his/her energy they become more submissive and are much more likely to be obedient.
This actually sounds much simpler than it really is. There are so many ways that people try to correct their dog in the midst of an undesirable behavior, but which is the best way? I have found that “snapping” your dog out of focus can often be a very effective means of stopping a bad behavior. For example, if your dog is growling, rather than trying to tell your dog to be quiet, try to grab their attention as soon as you notice it with a quick, firm command. Timing is crucial here, as you can snap them out of their mindset quite easily if you catch them in the moment or right after. Many bad behaviors can be stopped very easily by distracting your dog with a firm command. If you can consistently correct your dog’s behavior successfully, they will be less and less likely to repeat the behavior in the future. Never punish!
Dogs are not solitary animals like cats, they are social and require social activity just like people. For your dog to get along with other dogs and humans, it is important to expose him/her to such on a regular basis so that they feel comfortable around them. Dogs that don’t meet other dogs and humans on a regular basis can develop undesirable behaviors such as: barking at home, being overly energetic when meeting another dog or human, or complete avoidance of meeting others.
These are just a few rules my dogs and I live by. All dog owners have their own methods – these are just a few of mine that have been working very well for me and my dogs! If you follow the guidelines above you are definitely on the winning battle of raising a good, obedient, and happy dog!