Positive Dog Training Basics with a Little Rescue Dog

By: Sam Kanouse

Published Date: October 14, 2017

In this Omaha dog training session we helped two Boston Terriers, named Ava and Princess and a shepherd mix, Jazzy, to stop going potty in the house and build self esteem.

After I arrived the dogs quickly calmed down. When I sat down to chat with their guardians I learned that they didn’t have a lot of rules in place. When dogs don’t have a lot of rules in place they can take on the leadership role in the house. When a dog sees themselves as a leader, listening becomes optional. To help the dogs look to their guardians for leadership and direction I suggested a few new rules to incorporate:

  • No furniture for a minimum of 30 days- or until the behavioral issues have been resolved
  • Feeding Ritual- the dogs have three minutes to eat and they eat in the order of their rank
  • Manding- the dogs need to sit or lay down before being petted to give them a ‘doggy-job’

I taught the guardians our Petting with a Purpose technique to reward the dogs for good behavior. Each time we pet our dogs we are rewarding them for whatever they are doing. To learn more about Petting with a Purpose, you can watch the video below.

When I was chatting with the guardians I learned that sometimes Ava will roll over and show her belly when people go to pet her. This is a very submissive behavior. We don’t want to pet Ava when she acts this submissively because we are rewarding her for being submissive. We want Ava to be a confident dog. If Ava rolls over and shows her belly immediately, don’t pet her. Wait for her to roll back over with her belly downwards and then pet her. If you are petting her for a little while and then she rolls over and asks for a belly rub, that is okay. To build a dog’s confidence and self esteem I taught the guardians the Focus exercise, which you can watch below.

In the video, Ava was first learning how to do this exercise. Over time she will get better and better, eventually maintaining eye contact with her guardians for up to 30 seconds (or longer if they want to work on a longer duration). This exercise helps improve the bond between you and your dog by building her confidence and self esteem. This also teaches her to look to her guardians for direction.

Ava had not yet learned how to sit or lay down on command. There are two ways that the guardians can work on these commands: active and passive training. Passive training is when you pair a command word with whatever the dog is already doing. For example, if Ava sits down in front of you, you can pet her and say the word “Sit.” Active training is when you teach a dog to sit on command and give them a treat when they do the correct behavior. To see how I used active training to teach Ava to Sit and Lay Down, watch the video below.

One great dog training secret is to keep the treat very close to the dog’s nose while luring them into the position that you want them in. You can even let the dog lick your hand or around the treat to keep them focused on the treat while you help them get into the position you want, such as sitting. Remember that patience is key! You want to make nice slow movements so that your dog knows what you are training them to do. Quick, fast movements can lead to frustration for both you and your dog.

One of the main dog behavior concerns was getting Ava to stop pottying in the house. Just like many dog behavior problems Ava had built up a habit. To help her break this habit I suggested that the guardians use a positive dog training technique by rewarding her with a treat when she goes potty outside. To learn more great dog training tips to get your dog to stop going potty in the house, you can watch the video below.

One of the biggest keys to helping your dog break any bad habit is consistency. If you are consistent in rewarding your dog for the desired behavior, your dog will learn more quickly to do that behavior over and over again. Over time this will become the new habit. Remember to continue to give your dog treats throughout their lifetime to reward them for good behavior. This is our way of paying our dogs for doing what we ask of them. This is one of the best ways to have lifelong good habits and have your dog listen to commands.

By the end of this session the dogs were calmly laying down and looking to their guardians for direction and leadership. To continue with this good behavior I want the guardians to use our Petting with a Purpose method to reward the dogs for good behavior and use our Escalating Consequences to disagree with them. I wrapped up this session with Jazzy, Hailey and Ava’s Roadmap to Success video, which you can watch below.

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