PuppyHere’s how to train the perfect pooch. This advice comes from dog trainer Brian Kilcommons’ book “My Smart Puppy”. Here are Kilcommons’ three fundamental principles for dog training:

Take the dominant role with your dog. That absolutely does not mean you should hit your dog. You can assert yourself in much subtler ways. Because it’s the little behaviors you think nothing about that make your dog think he’s boss. For example, when you’re going out for a walk, does your dog dash out the door before you? That means your dog thinks he’s the alpha male. Why? Because pack leaders go through narrow openings first. Then, on the walk, does your dog determine where and how often you’ll stop? That’s another power play. Stay even with your dog and control the stops yourself. And when it comes to dinner time, the primal pecking order of meals is important to your dog. Always eat first, and then feed Fido. That’s sends a clear message that you’re the boss.

Only treat your dog for tricks. If you hand out treats willy-nilly to your dog, she’ll get confused. Give nothing for free, everything must be earned. And no, cute, cocoa eyes do not earn her a treat. At the very least, make her sit before giving a treat. The problem is, most dog owners use commands only when they need to. Do that, and you’ve already lost the game.

Be a benevolent master. Dominance isn’t about making your dog afraid or intimidated. It’s about earning respect and loyalty. So correct bad behavior with a firm voice and direct eye contact. Do not yank on the leash, don’t bother shouting, and no rapping their nose with a rolled up newspaper. If your dog is doing something wrong, stop, firmly say “no”, and make your dog sit or lie down. Then try the exercise again. And I know it’s cute when your dog nudges your hand to be petted, but you should initiate all love-fests. That’s just another telltale sign that he’s trying to be top dog.

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