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Book Club:Dog Training Handbook

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Dog Training Handbook

Dog Training Handbook: The Complete Guide to a Well-Behaved Dog
by Sheila Webster Boneham, Ph.D

Whether you just want a well-mannered companion or plan to compete in organized activities, training gives you the means to tell your four-legged friend what you want. But how do you do this most effectively? Taking a “whole life” approach to training—understanding how factors like nutrition, health, and exercise affect your dog’s ability to learn—will strengthen your bond and result in better communication between the two of you.

This book contains positive, reward-based methods, step-by-step instructions for each skill, and troubleshooting techniques to help owners pinpoint and solve training challenges. Geared to dogs of all ages, this total training guide will help your canine be a happy and well-mannered companion—for life.

About the Author:

Sheila Webster Boneham, Ph.D., loves dogs and writing about dogs. Three of her books have won the prestigious Maxwell Award from the Dog Writers Association of America, including The Simple Guide to Labrador Retrievers, named Best Single Breed Book of 2002. Sheila and her canine companions live in Indiana and are active in both competition and dog-assisted activities and therapy. You can visit Sheila and her dogs on the web at www.sheilaboneham.com.

Book Excerpt: The Dog Training Handbook

Understand the Six Principles of Successful Training

Whatever tools and methods you use with a particular dog, training will go easier for both of you if you apply six basic principles: consistency, conciseness, generosity, intelligence, preparation, and the joy of being with your dog through thick and thin.

1. Be Consistent

When training, apply the same rules and use the same words all the time. Switching signals on your dog just isn’t fair and will confuse him. And human language is not his natural means of communication, so give him a break. If you want him to come, say “Come” every time, not “Come,” “Come here,” or “Get over here” (and don’t use “Come” to mean “Let’s go for a walk”).

2. Be Concise

Give your command just once. Repeating a command over and over teaches your dog to ignore it, because you obviously don’t really care if he does it or not. At least not until the tenth time, when you scream and put your fists on your hips.

3. Be Generous

Reward your dog for being right. As we’ll see later in this book, you won’t always give a treat every time your dog does what you tell him, but you still need to reward him at least part of the time. Remember, not all rewards are edible—verbal praise, an ear massage, and a good butt scratch all count.

4. Be Smart

Don’t give a command unless you either are confident that your dog understands it and will respond to it correctly, or you are in a position to help him get it right. For example, if your dog is just learning to come when called, and you know he responds in training only half the time, don’t use your come command when he’s in the yard and you’re in the doorway wrapped in a bath towel. Remember, he’s learning all the time, and if you can’t correct his mistakes, he learns that he doesn’t really have to obey. So don’t keep calling him while he ignores you. Get dressed and go get him.

5. Be Prepared

If you are prepared for the possibility that your dog won’t come when you call (because he hasn’t yet learned to come every time in training), you won’t have to get dressed and go after your dog. You will have a long line by the back door, and you will fasten it to your dog’s collar before you send him out to potty so that you can call once, then reel him in and reward him when he gets to you.

6. Be Happy

Dog training is not an adversarial event. Your dog is your friend and your training partner, so be happy when you tell him what to do. Don’t growl—keep your voice upbeat and smile at him. Dogs are very sensitive to our tone of voice and body language, so use both to let your partner know that you will be oh-so-happy when he does what you tell him.

Excerpt from The Dog Training Handbook: The Complete Guide to a Well-Behaved Dog © 2008 TFH Publications, Inc. Used by permission.

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