Anyone Can Train Their Dog
By Art Hess
Forget the Problem—Concentrate on the Solution!
In this part we will work on the solution for the first two problems we mentioned, running to the door and barking, and begging at the table, because the solutions are the same. I ascribe to the process of “getting the dog’s attention, redirecting the attention, and rewarding the dog for performing the redirection.” In this exercise it’s important that we have the right mind set because we are setting out to teach a skill as opposed to the old idea of curing a problem. At this time we want to think of the solution as being entirely divorced from the problem(s) and view it like a skill we can show off to our friends and in addition it can be a skill we can use to resolve problems.
Mechanically we are simply going to teach the dog to go and lay down and stay on his bed or in his crate for an extended period of time until he is invited to move. You see, if our dog is happily on his bed he can’t perform these other undesirable activities.
We start off by placing his bed where it is that he will be able to be part of the regular activities of the environment he usually shares with the household. Next take five high value treats. This is no time for chintzy pieces of kibble, we want real motivators here. We want zero distractions, just you and the dog. You start about 4 or 5 feet from the bed. Now show him you have a “lure” in your hand and say “go to your BED” with the accent on the word bed. In the future this will be the only command. With the lure (treat) you direct him to the bed and when he is on the bed you say SIT and move the treat from an area near his nose and between his ears and back toward his tail. When he sits we move the treat down between his front feet and when he assumes a down we say “good dog” open our hand and give him the reward and say STAY.
Repeat this process from this close in position four more times and take a pause. Shortly you repeat the exercise with happy enthusiasm for another 5 times and you continue until you have done 20 repetitions. Between reps he stays on the bed and is congratulated for doing a good job. This becomes a fun experience for the dog if you approach it as fun happening and not just a boring training exercise. This onus is on you to make this enjoyable for your dog.
After a few days of successful sessions from the short distance you gradually increase the distances. Once the dog will enthusiastically run to his bed from various distances we try having him go to the bed from different rooms or places in the house so he is foolproof. Our goal is for him to run to his bed and lay down as soon as he hears the one command “go to your BED.” At this stage he is always rewarded. Remember there must be a reason for the student to perform the task. You’ll notice that we haven’t concerned our self with the problems of barking at the door, begging, or whatever other undesirable activities we may have to deal with. At this time, we simply want him to happily master the task of going to his bed on command.