The adage that you can’t teach an old dog new tricks may or may not be true, but old dogs mostly lie around and sleep all day, so you don’t really need to teach them anything new. The dogs you need to train are unruly and energetic puppies that will jump on the furniture, try to steal your food, and attack anyone they don’t recognize, namely your guests. And if your dog happens to have an aggressive nature or stubbornly refuses to obey your directives, you might not necessarily know how to effectively teach him to sit, stay, heel, and obey other common commands. But you’re not reinventing the wheel; there are plenty of techniques that can be used to get problem animals on track with their training. Although you can do a lot on your own, you may at some point need to bring in some professional help.
If your dog is aggressive or stubborn and you seem to be having trouble getting him under control, it might help to understand what causes this behavior. There could be a number of reasons why your dog reacts with aggression or simply refuses to obey. In some cases fear is to blame, especially with dogs that were abused by previous owners. And the main thing to understand here is that yelling at your animal is the wrong tactic as it will only make him more anxious and afraid. But aggression and obstinance may also spring from an excess of energy, in which case exercising your animal accordingly can help to calm him for the training process.
Whether your dog is large or small, you don’t want him to think he’s the boss or you’ll never get him trained. One of the main problems many pet owners struggle with is figuring out how to make their animals understand that humans hold the dominant position in the household. To do this you’ll need to earn your dog’s “trust, loyalty, and respect” by giving him “rules, boundaries, and limitations”, according to dog expert Cesar Millan. When your dog understands that you are his pack leader, he will be much more inclined to follow your directives.
As with raising a child, training a dog requires consistency. So you can’t let your dog up on the bed with you to sleep and then yell at him when you catch him up on the furniture. And if you feed him scraps under the table, don’t be surprised when he begs. With an aggressive animal it is especially important to ensure that your dog understands the rules and obeys commands so that no one gets hurt (including your furry friend). And this requires you to make rules and then stick to them rather than waffling.
Punishing your dog isn’t really an effective way to train him. Rewards tend to provide a much better motivation, especially since he may not necessarily understand that punishment coincides with certain behavior. This confusion can actually lead to further aggression. So set up a system of rewards like small food treats that will motivate him to repeat behaviors and associate them with phrases or gestures.
Doggy boot camp
If training your dog at home has proven unsuccessful despite your best efforts, it may be time to seek out a training facility like Beyond the Leash that offers obedience training (for you and your dog) or intensive doggy boot camp sessions that allow you to board your dog for days or weeks of targeted training by professionals. You don’t have to go it alone, especially if you’re dealing with a dog that is particularly stubborn or aggressive. There are professionals trained to help you deal with such matters so you can have a healthy and mutually beneficial relationship with your dog.