Be Prepared – Train Your Dog Before You Need It

In order to have a well behaved dog it is a good idea to be prepared. You might like to take some time to think through the various scenarios you might encounter with your dog, e.g. visiting friends, walking in town, family dinner time, a romp on the beach, play dates with doggy friends, meeting new people or dogs, greeting someone at the door, time at the dog park, etc.

Next formulate some ideas about what you would like your dog to do in these situations and then teach her/him the chosen behaviours. Some basic behaviour you might consider teaching your dog include: sit, stay, down, heel, come, leave it, wait, give, fetch, bed, toilet, quiet, watch and let’s go.

The trick is to start teaching your dog in places where s/he will be the least distracted, e.g. in the backyard, at the dog park without other dogs around, at the beach on a quiet day on a long leash, at the front door without anyone standing there, etc.

And very importantly remember to use positive reinforcement (see previous article) to let your dog know when s/he is getting it right. Also if you have more than one dog train each dog individually.

When your dog starts to fairly reliably and correctly do the behaviours it’s time to gradually increase the level and types of distractions under which s/he needs to perform. If you find your dog’s compliance deteriorates just decrease the level and/or types of distractions for a while and keep patiently training before trying again under distraction.

Eventually all the behaviours you teach will become second nature to your dog and s/he will do what you ask when you ask it. For the initial investment of time, commitment and energy you will reap the rewards of a well mannered long and happy life together.