Anyone who has a canine buddy living with him knows the importance of obedience training. All too often, though, it’s the dog that ends up training the owner, thus making it hard to get Fido to comply with any verbal commands at all. But there are things you can do to turn the tables and regain your position as master of the bark.
First of all, you should remember that you’re practicing the four “c’s” here: commitment, control, consistence and confidence. You have to be committed to training; you can’t do it for just one hour or one day, then skip the next two. That gives your dog the chance to slip the verbal leash off his neck and revert to his untrained attitude.
You also must be the one in control. Dogs are masters at using their emotions to get what they want. A little lick here, a small whine there, and they can have you “easing off” before you know it.
Of course, you have to be consistent. Once you’ve given a command, be certain to continue giving it in the same wording, meaning and strength as you started. To waiver in this can actually give your pet mixed signals, making it hard for him to follow direction. Finally, you have to be confident enough to follow through on the training. If you develop a routine with him, using as few words as possible, and make it consistent, you’ll see your confidence growing. You can do this – and do it successfully!
Now, what kind of commands do we give? Each must be definite to let him know you mean business. It’s easy to tell a dog to “sit,” for example, but within seconds he’ll be back up and ready for mischief. However, if you call his name firmly (not gruffly) to get his attention and establish eye contact with him (don’t let your eyes leave his), you’ve started off well.
The next step is to put your hand on his lower back and push gently but firmly downward while firmly giving the command, “Sit!” Remember to make it sound serious … a deeper voice, with the last letter emphasized (“siT!”), will let him know you mean business.
Don’t expect him to fully comply immediately, though. It takes time and repetition (this is the way both animals and humans learn, incidentally). At first, he might stay for only a couple of seconds, but if you’re committed to the exercise and consistent with your verbal command, within days (at most) he’ll be doing exactly what you say.
Another issue is that of territorial rights. You have your furniture and personal area, and he has his. Whenever he jumps on the good furniture, he’s crossing into your territory. In order to stop this habit, you have to use the same technique as in teaching him to sit: establish eye contact, take him by the collar (or the nape of the neck), put one hand on his lower back, and gently but firmly push him off the furniture. At the same time, speak the word “No!” with authority. Remember, a deeper voice and emphasis on the “n” will show him you mean business! As before though, it’ll take a few consistent attempts before he begins to comply fully.
Throughout each training process (e.g., getting him paper-trained, staying by your side when you’re out for a leashed walk together), the same basic principles apply: firmness, eye contact, single-word commands, stressing the beginning or ending consonant of each one, the firm-but-caring hand to guide him at first, are all important.
Just be sure that, as he’s learning, you offer him a small reward and some praise once he’s made the effort to obey.
After all, he’s learning the same lesson we have known for years: taking directions from humans can sometimes be hard to do!