Nfld. & Labrador

Bad dog? Stop rewarding things you don't want, says dog trainer

The most common mistake dog owners make is unintentionally rewarding unwanted behaviour, says dog trainer Glenn Redmond.

Glenn Redmond says excessive talking to your dog causes unwanted behaviour

Dog trainer Glenn Redmond says people talk to their dogs too much when trying to change behaviour. (Ariana Kelland/CBC)

Trainer Glenn Redmond says dog owners need to look no further than themselves when dealing with difficult behaviour from their pets.

And in most cases, it's unintentional.

"Many times we reward things that we don't want. Your frustration will add to the behaviour. The more you say no to the dog, the more the behaviour is going to occur," Redmond told CBC Radio's Crosstalk.

"You want to remove all of that vocalization. Any words directed at the dog will be taken as encouragement. Dogs don't speak English, French or German."

Trainer Glenn Redmond says when trying to change unwanted behaviour, take baby steps. (Cec Haire/CBC)

Managing Fido

Redmond is an animal trainer, behaviourist and stunt man. According to him, the best way to manage unwanted behaviour from a dog is to ignore it and say nothing. 

"Dogs are true Buddhists. They live in the second. They don't care about the past or the future," he said, adding it's important to remember to take your time when trying to change behaviour.

"Getting a dog accustomed to anything is really baby steps. We often jump into the deep end, without wading into the shallow end first. Be patient. Patience is required from the dog and the owner."

Patience and treats are necessary to change a dog, says trainer Glenn Redmond. (Ariana Kelland/CBC)

Treats are, of course, efficient, effective and easy ways to get your dog's attention. 

"Food is a great motivator," Redmond said.

And when all else fails, depending on the behaviour, use a spray bottle and keep it hidden.  

"Sometimes there needs to be a consequence for the behaviour," he added. 

Socialization is best 

Redmond said it doesn't matter whether your dog is older and afraid of its own shadow or a 10-week old puppy, socialization goes a long way.

"Have people around as much as possible. Walk downtown or Bowring Park. Socialize [the dog] to noise and people so that it becomes part of life for them," he said.

And if there's a new puppy in the house, "Pattern the dog to your environment," Redmond said.

"I'm a big fan of crate training. There are just too many things in a house that can pose danger — electrical cords and stuff like that." 

It's essential you start with obedience training right away. 

"This is the time the dog is a sponge, and you're really developing a template," Redmond said.

Start with the basics: sit, stay and come, and get your puppy out in the world.

"Go outside, but that doesn't mean allowing everybody to pet your pup," Redmond said.

"Have the puppy focus on you, the owner, instead. And when it comes to other dogs, handpick the dogs for your new puppy to be around."