Offer high-value rewards
There’s nothing wrong with a well-deserved “Good boy!” and tummy rub, but they’re simply not as rewarding as that coveted, freeze-dried liver or another delicious doggie treat. You just need to find out what treat your dog will go crazy for when performing new or preferred behaviours. “Exploring your dog’s high-value food rewards is a lot of fun and part of the process,” says dog behaviourist, Russell Hartstein. “Always carry a pouch or bag with your puppy’s daily allocation of food and lots of treats in it to teach your dog appropriate new behaviours.” Just be sure to consider these treats as part of your dog’s daily food allotment, or you may wind up with an overweight pup on your hands.
Train in a boring environment
Ever try teaching your fur baby something new at the dog park or while interacting with people? It probably didn’t go as well as expected. Here’s why: too much distraction. “Initially, as with any new behaviour, you want to start in a boring, non-distracting environment, typically a room inside your home with no toys, with your dog on a leash,” says Hartstein. And keep those high-value treats handy for rewards.
Stop yanking on the leash
Are you walking with your dog or is your dog walking you? If it’s the latter, forget about yanking the leash. It won’t work. “Dogs have an opposition reflex. You pull back, and they pull forward. They are not being stubborn or difficult. It’s built into the way a dog is designed,” says Hartstein. In other words, if a dog pulls and gets to where it wants to go, the dog is rewarded and will continue the behaviour. The solution? Head back inside for some walking on the leash. “After your dog has walked successfully next to you many times in your home, advance to the backyard, then the front yard, then a few houses down, etc,” suggests Hartstein. Reward them for walking close to you.