With so much advice out there on how to train your dog, you might be confused as to what advice you should follow. There are expert dog trainers who definitely know their stuff when it comes to dogs. Then there is the dog trainer who gets hired by the local pet shop because he or she knows just enough to help new dog owners but really cannot help beyond the basics. If you want real life advice about dogs, you have to start with the facts about dogs and work from there. Here is the advice you should follow, versus what you should not.
Your Dog Is a Pack Animal First and You Are the Pack Leader
Dogs, unlike cats, hone in on one person in the family. This one person is the "pack leader" to which your dog reports and responds. It expects to get commands and punishments from you and all of the other pack members (e.g., your spouse, your kids) are not to be responded to because they are not the pack leaders. When you get a new dog, always remember that it is a pack animal and will follow the leader with the rest of the pack. Not establishing who the pack leader is early on causes all kinds of behavioral problems in your dog, since he or she will attempt to establish him/herself as pack leader. If the pack leader is you, be the one that trains and disciplines the dog consistently.
Do NOT Treat Your Dog Like a Baby or a Human
Americans have a tendency to treat dogs as humans and as babies/children. This is a very bad idea, as well as very bad advice. A spoiled dog will do whatever it wants, including defecating and urinating in the house, biting and fighting other dogs, and wreaking havoc on your home while you are away. While it may be tempting to spoil your dog, do not do it unless you are willing to face ALL of the possible consequences of a dog who does not know how to be a dog first and your human companion second.
Do NOT Give Treats During Training
A lot of dog trainers say that you should use treats to train your dog. The truth is, you do not have to do this, nor should you. Dogs have a natural tendency and desire to please their masters and mistresses, and lots of praise and petting is usually all it takes to get a dog to do a positive behavior or trick and repeat it on command. Using treats means that you will have to eventually wean your dog away from the treats once the desired behavior or trick has been learned, and then you might end up with new behavior problems. Additionally, treats in training means that your dog could get very fat or constantly expect to be fed treats whenever you play with him/her. It is best to avoid this completely and just use praise, attention and petting as training rewards.
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