Dog owners are forever looking for the magic phrase, product, or method that’ll reward them with the perfectly behaved pet, but that ironically ignores the fact that animals are all individually different. It’s what we love about them, after all! Like humans, they run in groups but have their own unique personalities. Like humans, however, simple interaction and communication is enough to establish a relationship with your canine friend, and like your human friendships, it’s a simple matter of establishing what’s acceptable behavior and what isn’t.
One of the main reasons dogs are more easily domesticated than, say, cats is because canines have been domesticated longer than any other animal: for about ten thousand years, we’ve taken the dog’s natural tendency to follow an alpha male and transferred that power structure to a human owner. Your dog, especially if he’s still in the puppy stage, is already hardwired to do what you say. What he doesn’t carry around in his DNA is the ability to know what humans like and want. Dog training is simply a matter of assuming control of a pack of one, and leading it through a strange new landscape.
The only way to do this is through repetition and structure. It’s as important for you to be absolutely rigid in your schedule and your rules as you want your new pet to be. This is not to say you should be angry or abusive! In fact, you’ll get much better results by treating your dog pleasently and with respect. Your canine friend wants to be good and follow the rules, but if he isn’t clear what the rules are or what the consequences for breaking them entail, he can’t be blamed for being a “bad dog.” Just because you know what that is doesn’t mean he will, and just as with any new relationship, what’s important to you is never going to be as obvious to him. Certainly not right away!
Set clear guidelines for good and bad behaviors, teach those lessons every day by establishing a clear and unchanging routine, and most importantly, have the patience to see it all through. Often it’s just when you get used to having a routine that your pet will catch on; by the time you stop noticing it, that’s often just when your dog will begin to see the pattern!