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January 12, 2013

Experts offer tips for new dog owners


“So, first you teach the dog a good sit. Then, if someone says, ‘Hi’ to the dog and the dog jumps, the person walks away until the dog sits again, at which point the person approaches once more. So, the reward for sitting, in this case, is that the dog gets to meet the person. Jumping makes the person go away.”

The dog training principals of Jennifer Wilhelm, a professional trainer affiliated with Grand Gorge Animal Hospital, seemed very similar

to those of Karen Miller and the reward-based system. She was asked what she does when a dog is not relieving itself where she wants it to do so.   

“I set the dog up to succeed,” she explained. “I take it to the place where I want it to eliminate and reward it as soon as it goes there. I use a special reward that I don’t give it at any other time, so it really makes an impact: ‘Cheese’ means that you get cheese if you eliminate in the right place. Then I set up the environment so that the dog doesn’t have the opportunity to eliminate in an inappropriate place.

“Actually, I have a puppy right now that I’m in middle of house training,” Wilhelm said. “Either he gets tethered to me when I can’t watch him, or I keep him in his crate if he hasn’t gone in the designated place after 20 minutes.”  

She takes him out of the crate and tries again after another 20 minutes. With puppies especially, you have to keep an eye on them for signs that they’re ready to go. “Make sure you’re letting them out to eliminate after eating, drinking and then multiple other times during the day.” 

To break a dog of the jumping habit, Wilhelm recommends teaching them to sit. “A dog can’t jump on you when it’s sitting,” she stated.  “I teach them to greet people sitting.”

Small differences aside, all three trainers seem to agree that a combination of affection, rewards and diligence in preventing unwanted behaviors is the recipe for a well-behaved dog.

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