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I received an email from a dog mom who inspired me to pose this question to you – Is it ever too late to train a dog? When Rodrigo and Sydney hit adolescence, Sydney was heavenly; Rodrigo was a terror and I wondered if I needed to rehome him – he didn’t listen, he was constantly roaming, the destroyed things – he was a terror! So I made an appointment with our dog trainer and we got our dog back.
Hi! I have a 9 month old Labradoodle, A…, and I’m afraid it’s too l late to get him to start listening to me! He has a very energetic personality! He loves people, and cannot just sit (he does try, but his excitement gets the best of him) when me and husband have company, or if I take him out (park, vet…). Alex will jump and lick and “bite”. (he doesn’t bite to hurt, just play) He knows simple commands, like sit, lay down, and he can shake, but once he gets too excited, everything is out the window! How can I get him to listen to me, even in his most excited situations?
First, thank you for sending me an email. I appreciate you trusting me to help you.
If you want to chat on the phone, we can chat this weekend to clarify anything I share, but let me just tell you that it’s never too late to teach your dog. If I were in your shoes, and I kind of am with Blue, this is what I would do…
1. Set aside 10 minutes a day for training. I picked up a clicker at Petco for a couple bucks and it’s a life saver. Now when I pull out the clicker, our dogs know that it’s training time and they come to me and sit immediately. I only train for 5-10 minutes to keep them from getting bored. Since you have one dog it’s much easier. You click the clicker to mark good behavior. Start walking around with it and if your dog sits (even on his own), click the clicker the second his butt hits the floor and then praise him tons for “good sit.” Do the same when he lies down, if he keeps his paws on the floor, everything. We even clicked for quiet dogs even if they’re just laying around doing nothing.
If you need a great training book, check out: Love That Dog Training Program
2. Go for a walk for at least 30 minutes a day, that will satisfy your dog’s energy. With Blue, we have to either walk him for a few miles or play with him (tossing a ball, throwing a Frisbee) for 30 minutes a day or he can be a nightmare. Many trainers say that an exercised dog is a well behaved dog. I would stop taking him to the park until you have better control of his manners. One thing I see other dog owners do is take their dog to the park at low visitor times so that there aren’t so many distractions and their dog can spend some time walking and slowing taking in the sounds and smells.
3. When you have company, either put your dog in a kennel or in a separate room. If he’s not kennel trained, now is a great time to start. What you can do is put in him a kennel for a few minutes each day – increasing the time each time. I would give him a favorite chew toy or a Kong to keep him occupied. I fill our Kongs with kibble and peanut butter and then freeze them so that I always have one ready for our dogs.
4. Get some training treats so that you can treat good behavior. You have such a happy dogs that you can probably treat with attention. That’s how we trained Blue. We would just give him lots of love and attention. We do it for all of our dogs now. But treats are fun. One easy treat that I like and the dogs love is string cheese. I just pinch off chunks for them – it’s inexpensive and easy to carry around.
5. Check out those TV dog training shows. I know that there are mixed feelings about television dog trainers, but one value that I believe they add is showing us that we’re not alone and they can offer up some great tips. From Cesar Milan, I learned about consistency, confidence and the importance of daily exercise. From Victoria Stilwell, I learned how to mark good behavior, some great dog walking tips, and creating an area to go for the dogs – our dogs understand “go to your blanket.”
That’s what I have for now. Best of luck. If you can, hire a trainer. In some areas, they’re crazy expensive. I would check with your veterinarian or local pet store for recommendations. If you’re on a budget, let them know. Many trainers are such passionate dog lovers that they’ll work with your budget. Ask them if they can just give you one session sharing tips on how to use a clicker and other quick tips. That doesn’t take long.
Thanks again for the email, B…
Now it’s your turn! What advice would you offer to this writer-inner. Is it ever too late to train a dog?