By Sarah Fulcher, Cert. CBST
Want a calm, confident, well-behaved canine companion? A dog will always be a reflection of his genes and environment and in order to change your dog’s behaviour, you have to change your own behaviour.
The “PUP” training system is a relationship based, lifestyle dog training program. It focuses on meeting your dogs needs, training using positive reinforcement, and developing a trusting leadership relationship. In the “PUP” dog training method, do the best you can to:
Provide adequate outlets and stimulation. Include your dog in as much as your life as possible. Give him plenty of chances to be a dog – if he doesn’t get opportunity to utilize his instinctual behaviours (such as hunting, swimming, and working) regularly he will develop behaviour problems. Play games with your dog that emulate his individual instincts such as fetch, chase, and food search games. It is best to give him daily opportunities to socialize with other dogs if possible, or as much as you are able to provide.
Utilize Positive Reinforcement. Use reward-based training to train and retain behaviours you like. Ignore, prevent, redirect, or re-train things you don’t like. Taking an effort to teach your dog what to do, instead of punishing him for what not to do, can make an enormous difference in your dog’s behaviour and psychological well being. It’s easy, fast, and after all – there’s only one way for your dog to get it right, but an infinite amount of ways he can get it wrong!
Practice Good Parenting. Set fair limits, and teach your dog self control instead of external control so your dog can make good choices. Use humane, effective discipline (like removing attention and time outs) when necessary. As a puppy parent, it is your responsibility to keep your dog safe. Give your dog a choice and don’t force them into situations they can’t handle so they know they can trust you. Leadership and respect should never be established through physical violence – Dogs have the mental/emotional level of a 2-3 year old child so treating humanely is very important. Your job as leader is to protect and direct.
Without leadership and proper outlets for your dog, obedience training will be pretty ineffective. These are the foundation to building a balanced dog. Remember: Provide outlets, Use +R, Parenting!