You also have to be careful WHAT you are training. When we teach our dog a complicated trick we break it down into smaller parts and slowly add them together. We build a chain of behavior. For example. If we want to teach your dog to roll-over you start by teaching the down, you then slowly work to get the rollover when the dog is laying down. Then you start asking for the rollover when the dog is sitting, etc, etc. When you see dogs on television doing complicated strings of behavior this is how it has been trained.
These chains can just as easily happen for behavior we don’t want. Let’s start out by looking at a common behavior I’m sure most of you will have observed (or dealt with) at your local supermarket. We have all seen the child having a tantrum because it wants something, usually candy or treats, and the parent saying “no”. Then you see the parent negotiating with the child that if they stop the tantrum they will get the treat at the checkout. So, what has this child learnt. If I have a tantrum in the supermarket I will get a treat at checkout! I’m sure this is not what the parent intends.
Instead, to stop this behavior, before the trip to the supermarket the parent needs to make it clear, that the child will get a treat (doesn’t have to be food) upon returning home (or to the car) if their behavior is good the whole time in the supermarket. And of course, that action needs to be carried out consistently, every time!
So, how does this apply to dog behavior. You don’t want your dog to jump on the furniture. The wrong way to deal with this is to tell your dog to get off the furniture and when he does you give him a treat. Do you see the chain that you are teaching. If I jump on the furniture I will get a treat. The jumping down again is just part of the chain that you have trained towards getting the treat.
The right way to train this is to go into the room with the dog. If it sits down where you want (I’ll come back to this), without jumping on the furniture then it gets the reward (treat or pats and attention). If the dog jumps on the furniture you say “No”, get the dog off the furniture and then ignore it. Even better is to leave the room. The dog will likely follow you. Then go back into the room and ask the dog to sit where you want it to. If it does that, it gets the reward. If it jumps again on the furniture, repeat the process. It won’t take long for the dog to understand that it gets a “No” and no attention when it does the wrong thing.
Make sure that you establish a place which is your “dog’s place”. It could be a dog bed or a crate. This is where you want your dog to be when you are in this room. It is his special place and no one else’s. This is important especially if you have young children. The dog should have somewhere where it can go and not be bothered when it wants quiet time.
When you are consistent with your rules and boundaries you dog will be happier and will trust you as leader. And remember always to have fun playtime!