Dog training can be a bitch (pun intended), at one point i just said, "screw it my dog doesn't listen, he cant be trained!". Thanks to a few classes that I took, my dog Jake is now learning to be obedient and respectful of people and other dogs. While taking an obedience class is the BEST way to learn how to train and build a relationship with your dog not everyone has time to do so, that is why I am posting this. I will be the first to say that I dont know everyting about training a dog but this worked for me and Jake, who I think is a very typical mut! The following is my response to a post from a lady who was having trouble getting her lab to listen to her when she didnt have treats in her hand to reward him:
I have a lab/pit mix, we had a problem that sounds very similar to yours (he isn't perfect yet but he is WAY better). I can tell you what has worked for me. Its basically setting firm groundrules and being consistent about enforcing them (and rewarding when they are correct). This is by far the single most important thing that you can do to raise a happy healthy obedient companion. My dog jake, being part lab is also VERY food motivated, this is a good thing as it makes training much easier (not easy but easier). I think that the problem that you and your dog are having is a dominance struggle, thats what it was for us. He knows the commands but doesn't see you as "the boss" so he chooses not to follow them. A few things that I did to establish my dominance over jake:
1. Do a 30 minute down every day, preferably while you are eating a meal, cause then you can eat in peace. If he gets up and breaks his down, say NO! or whatever word you already use as a corretion, then put him back in his place that you orginally put him in with a firm hand and tell him to "stay" again in a firm voice, (make sure never to stare at a dog in the eyes because he will think you are threatening him). For the 30min down to work, make sure not to praise him while he is down, because this is something that he should do without reward, remember, the goal is for him to listen to you without question. He should be waiting patiently for your next instruction. You may want to start out with a five minute down, move to 10 when he has gotten good at that and move up to 30 when you think he is ready, but make sure to do it a little bit everyday or he will conveniently forget what is going on.
2.Make sure you establish places that he cannot go to. I.e. furniture, your bed, etc. Later in training when he is listening to you and respects you as alpha you can give him more privelages like making him sit and ask to come on the bed/couch and wait for you to give him permission before he comes up. When jake has a brain fart i say in a loud voice "NO! Off! and point off of the bed/couch" when he gets off i make sure to praise him with a "good boy good off," because he listened to my off comand. Praise is as important as correction for re-enforcement. this is easy to forget when he is being bad and pissing you off.
3. Make him sit at doorways and stay there untill you have gone through them. Then tell him "okay" or whatever release word you want to use. A good way to start this is to initially use treats as re-enforcement for the sit-stay. gradually ween him of the treats and give them occasionaly. You must be consistent in enforcing this or he will think he can get away with not listening (be consistent and firm in all training).
4. When you are telling your dog to do sits, downs, stay, come; make sure to say the command only ONCE in a authoratative tone. If he does not do what you are asking, firmly and gently move him into the desired position and as soon as you have done this make sure to give lots of praise and give him a treat. This will let your dog know that when you tell him to do something, you mean it and if he does it he will be rewarded. "Come" is the hardest command to work on but is the most important. A reliable come can save your dogs life if he gets away in a bad location. You need to be able to enforce the command after you give it so my advice is to purchase a long-line. you can find them in all sorts of lenghts at Petco (I think 30ish is the best), attach it to his collar (not a slidey choke collar as they can cause trachial collapse if they hit the end of the line too hard) and let him run around. Tell him come and if he does not respond give him a quick (but not too hard) tug on his collar to get his attention then shorten up the line and make him come back to you. as soon as he is looking at you and walking your direction, give him lots of praise in a high happy tone of voice. If he looks away or walks away, give him a tug on the collar again (hopefully you've gotten the line short enough, fast enough), then praise when he walks to you again. When you finally get him right next to you, still praising, get your hand on his collar and give him a treat. Most importantly, do not use the "come" command of-leash until your dog comes everytime you say the command; if he doesn't respond and you can't correct him then he will "forget" and you will have to work twice as hard to train him again (this is very frustrating).
All in all i have found with my dog that being consistent, firm and making sure to praise a lot are the best ways to create a good working relationship with him. Every dog I have ever known has been reluctant to listen to training when first starting, but after a bit of consistant work they look forward to learning new things and working on old ones. Dogs like having a job to do. Give it a whirl, I think you will be amazed at how fast he will start listening to you and remember, training never ends, it just changes some.
hope that helps,
This took a while to write, so im bumping it once in hopes that someone who needs help will read it. So bump it if you love dogs and you agree with the methodology.
Pretty good there, jls7.
I agree with most of the suggestions. I agree, consistency is vital, everybody in the house has to be consistent on training and all have to agree. If one person allows the dog on the couch, bed,etc., and the rest do not, that just confuses the sh!t out of the dog and he won't understand. The other thing is, I agree with the giving a command once, twice max, in case the dog did not hear the first command. If you keep saying sit five times, guess what? he will not sit until the fifth command of sit. Make sense for the dog, because you let him get away with it.