One of the most important aspects of training is your attitude toward your dog. During training, you want to maintain a friendly and positive attitude. For many people, maintaining this attitude can be enormously difficult because frequently they don't start to think about training until Buddy has become an uncontrollable nuisance. He's no longer cute and cuddly, he has become incredibly rambunctious, everything he does is wrong, and he certainly doesn't listen.
Don't train your dog when you're irritable or tired. You want training to be a positive experience for your dog. If you ever get frustrated during training, stop and come back to it at another time. When you're frustrated, your communications consist of "no," "bad dog," "how could you do this," and "get out and stay out." You're unhappy and Buddy is unhappy because you're unhappy.
A better approach is to train him with firm kindness so both of you can be happy. An unfriendly or hostile approach doesn't gain you your dog's cooperation and will needlessly prolong the training process. When you become frustrated or angry, the dog becomes anxious and nervous, and is unable to learn (see Chapter 9). When you feel that you're becoming a little irritable, stop training and come back to it in a better frame of mind. You want training to be a positive experience for Buddy (and you).
Training and your dog's age
From birth until maturity, your dog goes through physical and mental developmental periods. What happens during these stages can, and often does, have a lasting effect on your dog. His outlook on life will be shaped during these periods, as will his behavior.
The age at which a puppy is separated from its mother and littermates has a profound influence on his behavior as an adult. Taking a pup away from the mother too soon may have a negative effect on his ability to handle training. For example, housetraining may be more difficult under these circumstances. A pup's ability to learn is important to becoming a well-trained dog. It will also affect his dealings with people and other dogs. So what is the ideal time for your puppy to make the transition to its new home? All the behavioral studies that have been done recommend the 49th day, give or take a day or two.
These studies have also shown that dogs begin to learn at 3 weeks of age. At 7 weeks old, their brains are neurologically complete, and all the circuits are wired. Their mind is a blank page, and all you have to do is fill it with the right information. They won't forget what they learn in the next few weeks. If you wait until your dog is older, he'll probably have picked up several bad habits, which means you have to erase the page and start all over, a much more tedious job than starting when he's a puppy.
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Bark collars are a specific type of training tool that is ideal for dogs with a natural tendency to bark excessively, or more than usual for any reason. Bark collars are designed to provide negative reinforcement in reaction to the unwanted barking behavior. Over time, the dog will learn to avoid the behavior in order to avoid the negative reinforcement.