What you can do to Train your Dog
WHAT YOU CAN DO
* If you are lucky enough to start out with a puppy teaching her good habits from day one is your best bet the minute she walks through your door. By giving her a toy to play with , a post to scratch and a litter box to use, you are teaching her what is appropriate to play with and scratch and where it’s acceptable for her to do her business. Using positive reinforcement helps achieve the best results. Observe your dog’s natural behaviors; figure out what she likes the most; a toy, treat, or affection and use that to reward correct behavior. If you see your puppy doing something dangerous use negative reinforcement to stop her right away so she doesn’t hurt herself. For example, if she’s chewing on a electrical cord, immediately redirect her attention to an appropriate toy or activity.
* Your puppy must not associate you with the unpleasant stimulus or she might blame you or become afraid of you. Instead, she’ll blame the item used i.e. the whistle or water.
* Medical conditions that may be responsible must be eliminated first by your vet. Generally a thorough physical exam with or without laboratory tests are required. Referral to a Behavioral Specialist is the next step. A written, detailed history is essential. An at home visit is best, but telephone consults are an option. Behavioralists try to pinpoint the exact problem and the stimulus (what triggers the bad behavior) then make recommendations accordingly.
* Methods used for behavioral modifications vary according to the specific problem. A variety are available but a combination of physical (termed behavioral redirection) and medical intervention work best to resolve most problems. Physical methods used include positive (toy, treat, love) and negative (loud noise, horn, whistle) reinforcements and obnoxious stimuli. Obnoxious stimuli are strong tastes, like red pepper, that dogs dislike. They are used to get dogs to avoid certain items, furniture and areas by making them taste bad.
* If “toxic” plants can’t be removed from the environment, do not allow your dog access to that area. “Dabbing” the leaves of non-toxic plants or dabbing items like furniture with hot pepper sauce also helps deter pets.
* Use booby traps on items or areas to prevent chewing a plant or item. These are also an option when you’re not home for example, a balloon or an upside down cocked mousetrap, they “self-startle”, the dog startles himself and avoids the item which stops the unwanted behavior.