Dog Training Begins at Home

So you want to train your dog? So – when you’re at home with your dog, ensure that you read it and both understand it!

We are going to train your dog, right now! This second! So get your dog’s lead, put it on your dog and sit right back down, with your four-legged friend by your side. Your dog must be on the floor at your feet – and not on the sofa with you. Don’t worry too much if your dog does not lie down or sit. Just don’t make too much of a deal about the situation. Avoid all small talk and eye contact. If you can, try to maintain a relaxed lead.

From here on, as you read every page, I want your dog next to you as I have described. It may seem counter-intuitive to have a dog on a lead in the home, but believe me this will pay dividends in the long term. Every moment you spend reading this book, you’ll be training your dog. And this thoughtful start is the perfect way to start our dog-training journey. Whatever breed your dog is, or wherever he or she came from, this is where you start. Most importantly, it’s how I started – and I want you to benefit from this technique.

It could be a new puppy, a rescue dog, or even Dangerous Dave’s Savage Pit Bull terrier from along the road. Joking aside, if someone gave me a wild, nervous and almost feral personality, this is how I would start: the dog on a lead with me in the home while I’m reading, watching TV or just relaxing. I wouldn’t say too much, either, but just gently guide the dog.

I would never just bring a new dog home, open the door, let him off the lead and say, “there you go, mate, help yourself!” But, time and again, it’s what so many people do. One of the biggest mistakes a dog owner makes is giving their dog too much freedom from the outset. Using a lead means you can guide the dog through what the house rules are. The home is also the best starting place to teach your dog to walk on his the lead, without pulling.

Don’t begin lead training in a park full of other dogs. That’s like taking a learner driver straight out on to a motorway on their first lesson: it’s all going to end in tears. If a dog doesn’t understand what you’re asking him to do, or just ignores you, even when on his lead in the home, then it’s guaranteed he’ll ignore you in the park and do his own thing.

Even when I am teaching a dog to stay on his bed in the home, I leave his lead attached. If he moves, I grab the end of the lead, not the dog, before taking him back to his bed. It is an indirect way of taking control of the situation. Never try to control a dog by wrestling with your hands or grabbing his collar: it’ll soon go very wrong.

Now, I’m not saying you should have your dog on a lead in your home, 24/7. But do have regular training in session at home on the lead. Anytime that you feel you’ve lost a slight bit of control over your dog, then go back to using the lead.

Imagine, right now that I have Dangerous Dave’s weapon dog, Boris, sitting next to me, just like your dog is right now. There’s a knock at your front door and he barks, growls and gets excited. I know that if Boris wasn’t on that lead, he’d be off! He’d be attacking the front door, jumping up and down like a possessed demon and climbing on the sofa – trying to get a better view out of the window. But not today, because I have hold of the lead and I’m able to I can take control of the situation. What I would never do is release the dog and let him race towards the door and then shout at him to stop. I’m sure you would agree that would be a silly thing to do. However, that happens in thousands households of every day.

Right now, there’ll be a Boris lying on the floor of a lounge, asleep, next to his owner who is watching TV, reading a book or sleeping. Suddenly the doorbell sounds – but even before it can sound, the sleeping dog isn’t lying down anymore. He’s off at lightning speed. Dong! He crashes into the door like a barking-mad ram-raider. His bark is deafening. His owner is right behind him, barking, “Boris! Boris! Stop that!” And then: “I won’t tell you again! Boris! Stop that!” The owner tries to grab Boris. But he’s like the artful dodger and leaps onto the sofa to look out of the window… “Boris, stop that!” And so it goes on.

What the owner of Boris doesn’t realise is that he’s doing a wonderful job of training Boris to attack the door. Boris thinks those commands to “stop” are words of encouragement, as if his owner is barking with him. Why would he think differently? The more Boris barks, the louder and more often the owner shouts. His owner might as well shout, “Go on Boris! Well done! Go for the person’s leg!”

When your dog is off the lead and you have to give a command more than once and get no response, just stop. Go back to working your dog on the lead. Even when your dog is doing really well, there will be times that you will have to take a step back with training. It might be as simple as putting your dog on the lead, making him lie down by your feet while you read this book.

Finally, before we move on, there is one undesirable form of behavior that many dogs exhibit. We can resolve this without the use of a lead – and it is the act of jumping up! So if your dog has this problem, let’s get it sorted, before you finish this chapter. For this to work, follow my instructions exactly. Later, I’ll explain the psychology behind the method. But for now, let’s just get your dog trained.

First, stand up and unclip your dog’s lead. You can start using the command “Free” as you release your dog. With my dog – “Free” – means an end to a formal training session. I use it to release my dog from a stay or to tell him it’s alright to leave his bed. Of course you can use any word you like, such as, perhaps… “riot!”

Next, I want you to get your dog really excited. Use a silly voice, rub his head – whatever it takes. I’m sure you’ll know how to raise your dog’s energy levels.

Now if your dog isn’t jumping up at you yet (but I suspect he will be) encourage him to do so. Oh, I forget to mention: don’t be wearing your best clothes for this. Now providing your dog isn’t mouthing or biting, you can excite him a little more.

With your dog jumping all over you, I want you to lift both hands and touch your shoulders, keeping both hands in that position. Now for the most important part. I want you to look directly ahead of you and focus on an object. Do not speak or look at your dog and stand straight. Do not move or resist any temptation to even glance at your dog. If you do, this won’t work. I bet you’re glad to be doing this in the privacy of your home, as you look a little strange right now.

Keep holding this statue position and your dog will stop jumping up. Now, as soon as he stops, I want you to praise your dog. However, as soon as you do, he’ll jump up at you again. When he does, resume the statue position. You may have to repeat this a few times, but in less than a minute most dogs stop jumping up.

Do this every time you come home, be consistent and the jumping up problem will be no more.

That is how simple it is to train a dog.

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