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Dogs begin learning the moment they are born. Dogs learn by association. They associate their mother’s nipple with milk, their mother’s tongue with stimulation and the warmth of another body as comfort.

Dogs aren’t only learning when they are in a “training session.” Dogs learn 24/7. Anytime you interact with your dog you are teaching him something. If he jumps on you and you talk to him, pet him, push him off, knee him in the chest or stare at him, you are rewarding the behavior and increasing the chance it will be repeated.

Dogs do what works. If you ignore your dog while he is lying on the floor chewing a toy but acknowledge him when he gets up and grabs a pillow off the couch, then the dog is going to learn that grabbing the pillow is what gets your attention. So you see, dogs don’t know between good and bad behavior, they only know what works and what doesn’t.

It is up to the family to decide what is going to work. I encourage you to think about what you DO want instead of what you don’t want. For example, if your dog is allowed in the kitchen, what are the rules? Standing on all fours around the counters? Not getting into the trash? Not getting up on the table? You must begin rewarding your dog for having four on the floor, being around the trash and not getting into it and for being around the table without getting on it. It is your responsibility to ensure he is unable to get anything off the counters or table by keeping things far away from the edge and if needed, keeping him on leash with you. Putting the dog in the other room isn’t teaching but managing.

To be successful in teaching your dog, you need to do the following…

-Supervise his every move during the learning stages.
-Always acknowledge desirable behavior.
-Crate the dog if you can’t supervise him.
-Be aware of what you are acknowledging.
-Be sure your dog has four on the floor before anything good happens.
-Reward him when he comes to you or does anything that you like. Use treats and praise.
-Get in the habit of telling your dog when he is doing something right.
-Learn to ignore the behavior you don’t like.

Remember, dogs don’t stop learning just because the “training session” ends.