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When the first family brought home their Portuguese Water Dog, Bo, they turned to Dawn Sylvia-Stasiewicz. The veteran trainer had helped school the late senator Ted Kennedy’s three beloved Porties, including Bo’s brother, Cappy. Sylvia-Stasiewicz is an expert in using positive reinforcement to teach high-energy pups good behavior. In her upcoming book, The Love That Dog Training Program, Sylvia-Stasiewicz shares her secrets for training the perfect family pet. The book is out October 6, but we got a sneak peek at the top five training tricks that Sylvia-Stasiewicz used on Bo.
1.The Crate Is Your Friend
Crate-trained dogs tend to cope better with anxiety and are typically better behaved in general. By continually rewarding a dog for spending time in his crate, Sylvia-Stasiewicz leads him to view the crate as a safe haven where he can relax and get away from it all, rather than as a jail cell where he’s being punished.
2.Listen to the Hand
Natural canine communication is not verbal, it’s visual. Sylvia-Stasiewicz trains dogs to pay attention to their human companions by teaching them to respond to the hand signals for sit, down and stay. Starting with hand signals and adding the verbal cues later encourages your dog to watch you closely and be more obedient.
3.Sit for a Reward
The real-life rewards system is a way to teach your dog the relevance of what sit actually means throughout the day. Your dog should understand that when she sits, she gets a reward: to play with the toy you’re showing her, or to eat the food in the bowl you’re holding or to go through the door you’re ready to open for her. The sit is your dog’s ready position, and it should become her way of saying, “Please, may I?”
4.Make a Trade
Many people have experienced the frustration of having their dog refuse to give up a toy, stick or unsavory piece of trash (dogs will be dogs, after all) that he has stumbled upon. But dogs love making trades for something of equal or greater value. If you teach your dog that bringing you a particular toy or object will result in him receiving a more desirable alternative, such as a tasty treat or a toy he particularly loves, then your pet will be less likely to growl, run away or bite when you try to grab things from him.
Early on in her relationship with a dog, Sylvia-Stasiewicz makes sure to socialize him with lots of other dogs and in a variety of environments. She takes him everywhere with her and monitors his reactions to different situations. This early socialization encourages a dog to get along terrifically well with other dogs.
Want more Bo? Check out our gallery of Bo Obama pictures.
What was the hardest thing about training your pet? Chime in below!