How to Teach Your Dogs Good Manners

by Laura Agadoni

"Did I do a good job?"

Dogs are similar to 2-year-old children in certain ways: They can understand about 250 words, and they will display savage behavior unless they are taught to behave in a civilized fashion. Teaching your dog good manners is necessary if you want a pleasant and enjoyable relationship with your dog, and doing so provides an excellent way for you and your dog to bond and have fun in the process.

Step 1

Teach your dog that the clicker means he did something right. Do this by associating the clicking sound with a treat. When your dog is near you, click the clicker and give him a treat. Walk to a different area, and click the clicker and treat. Do this in several areas of your home so your dog will understand that the clicker sound means a treat. If you always treat in the kitchen, for example, he might think he gets a treat for coming in the kitchen.

Step 2

Teach your dog to heel, as a dog who pulls on walks displays bad manners. Put a leash on your dog, exit the house before him and ensure that he heels while you walk. When he starts to pull or get ahead of you, calmly turn around and make him start over. Keep doing this -- clicking and treating when he walks at your heels and turning around to start over when he doesn’t heel -- until he heels consistently.

Step 3

Teach your dog to stop begging, whining or jumping up to steal food at the dinner table. Do this by teaching your dog the “down/stay” command. Put a treat in your closed fist and bring your fist to the floor. Say, “Down.” If he merely bends his head to get the treat, don’t give it. When he gets down, click and give the treat. Teach stay by putting your hand in the stop position while you say "Stay." Back away slowly. If he tries to follow, say, “No,” and walk him back to where he was. Click and treat when he stays for a few seconds. Keep him in down/stay near you but away from the table while you eat.

Step 4

Teach your dog not to bark when the doorbell rings. Have a friend ring the doorbell. When your dog barks, say, “No.” Then tell him to “sit/stay.” When he does, click and treat. Keep a treat bag near the door. When someone rings the bell, tell your dog, “No” if he starts barking. Then walk to the treat bag and say, “Sit.” Click and treat. Say, “Stay.” Click, treat and open the door.

Step 5

Have your dog go to his spot or his place when you tell him to. Get a nice blanket or dog pillow and place it where he likes to hang out in your house. Say, “Go to place” or “Go to spot.” As soon as his paw touches the blanket, click and treat. After he understands this is his place, only click and treat when he sits or lies down on it.

Step 6

Teach your dog not to jump on you or strangers. When he jumps on you, say “Off,” turn your back on him and ignore him until he gets down. As soon as he is down, praise him and show affection. When you see him jump on someone else, say, “Off.” Tell him to sit, and treat when he does.

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