Dog Training: Start with manners

The first thing I work on with a dog is manners. Manners means no jumping on people without an invitation, no licking without permission, no fast approaches to strangers, and no running through me (especially in doorways!). I use the same overall process for every behavior I don’t want, but I adjust my responses to the dog.

First, every time the dog jumps on me, I give a loud, sharp, ‘NO!’, and a press downward on the head. When they stop trying to jump on me, and show me that they’re in control of themselves, I praise them and tell them they’re being good. Then, I invite them to jump by saying, ‘Up’ coupled with two palms tapping on my stomach. When they do jump up, I catch their paws, hold them, and give them some praise. When i’m done, I say, ‘Off’, and let go of their paws with a slight push away and down. I repeat as needed, though I don’t invite them up every time they jump.
By giving them praise when they jump with an invite, but correction when there’s no invitation, i’m teaching them that it’s not okay to jump on someone unless they’ve asked for it, AND, i’m giving them an outlet for their natural desire to jump up. Now, as with all commands, it’s very important that everyone in the house do this with a dog that’s new to learning manners.

Second, I focus on licking. I use the same process as jumping, but I use ‘kisses’ coupled with a tap on the body where I want the kisses. When the dog kisses me where I want, I give a treat. When they kiss without an invitation, they get scolded. Repeat as needed.

Third, I focus on not running through my feet, or generally not running me over. For this, every time they start to run into/through me, i’ll stop what i’m doing, scold them, make them stop, wait, and then we’ll walk through the doorway one at a time. As with all corrective training, it’s slow going at first, but the work you’re putting in here will lay a solid foundation of understanding and discipline for your dog!

You can apply the same process and system to any negative behaviors you don’t want. The more of those negative behaviors you replace with a positive behavior, the more your dog will learn what you want, and will work to comply. Chewing on a shoe? Take it away, scold loudly, and replace with a dog chew toy, coupled with praise when they chew on it of their own accord. When starting out, every time they pick up their chew toy and start chewing on it, give them praise, make it a big deal, and give them a small treat along with it. As you reinforce positive behaviors with good things and scold bad behaviors with sharp corrections, they’ll learn, but it’s important to do it early, and do it often.


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