The good news is the answer is YES, you can teach an old new tricks. There are few things you need to do before commencing your dog’s training.
- Take your dog for a vet check. It’s important to make sure there are no underlying health issues that may be causing behavioural problems.
- Gather as much information about your dog’s history as you can. Ask the previous owner, shelter or rescue organisation if the can fill in some of the blanks. Of particular importance: Has the dog had any previous training? Does he have any problematic behaviours? Is he friendly with other dogs and human strangers?
- Get your Sherlock on. Become a dog detective. Take note of any problematic behaviours – what time of day do they occur?, is there a trigger?, what exactly is the dog doing? What treats does your dog like the best (rank them in order of preference)? What time of day is your dog most responsive to training or most active?
- Contact a positive reward-based trainer. They may ask you to have an individual lesson before joining a class. This will allow the trainer to assess your dog and determine his suitability for learning in a group environment. Some dogs don’t enjoy the company of others, some dogs need to work out a few of their own issues first, they may have no manners, be fearful or easily overwhelmed and rushing them into a class environment can be counter-productive to your training efforts.
- Make your decision and commit to training. You don’t need hours a day, actually quite the opposite. Your home training sessions away from your trainer, need only be 5-10 minutes three times a day. Training can fit in around your lifestyle, all you need is love, interaction and commitment.
You will find more information on how to train your dog using positive reward-based methods in: Nose to Tail:A Holistic Guide to Training Your Dream Dog available online at www.nosetotailbook.com.au