EARLY

PREPARATION

Whether you have a puppy or seasoned adult, your dog will need some preparation for training. I used a lot of YouTube videos from Zac George's Dog Training Revolution when Jesse was a puppy. While I don't know Zac George personally, his videos made training fun with a lot of positive reinforcement. Some days Zac's voice was the only thing motivating me to deal with our little bundle of puppy joy when I was just too busy or tired. His videos also motivated my husband to get on board with the training, and we would watch the videos together.  

Exercise!

Dogs need to get exercised every day--and particularly before a training session, so they can get their energy out.  Teaching "fetch" can be an easy way to exercise your dog each morning and evening for maybe 15 minutes at a time. Dog park runs work well, too. 

 

Socialization
Getting your dog out and about among people as a puppy, in a dog park, on busy streets, etc., is good socialization that instills confidence.

Calm
It's easy to get a dog excited or agitated or jumping up--and play time is important. But it's equally important to teach a dog how to be calm, to reward it for being relaxed, by giving gentle affection and quiet time.

 

Teach Your Dog Its Name
Before you give a voice command, say the dog's name first to get her attention: "Fido, sit," Teaching a dog its name is fairly easy if you say the name repeatedly while giving it a treat. 

 

"Look at Me"
Teach your dog to look you in the eye, to pay attention to you and listen. "Fido, look at me." When it looks you in the eyes, reward it (some people use treats). When you do give a treat, bend down slowly and extend the hand slowly, keeping eye contact, so the dog learns to pay attention to you and not just lunge for the food.


Potty Train
Potty training can take from a few weeks to a few months and is sometimes considered the most frustrating part of training, but there are many Internet resources for effective training.

No Barking 
A service dog is expected to be quiet at all times, so it’s important to train the dog to be quiet around other people, kids, and animals—including the postal carrier, visitors at your front door, etc. If your dog is a barker, you may want to consult YouTube videos about how to break the habit. I have small dog breeds known for barking tendencies, so I start the no-barking training from the very first moment.

Don't rush the front door. 
The first thing I train my dogs (even before "sit") is a matter of safety. It's a command to stay back from the front door when someone knocks or rings the doorbell or when I'm leaving the house--and to wait to be greeted by a guest. This is a matter of safety for the dog and calm greetings at the front door. Then I train the dog when she can or cannot pass the threshold of the front door with me--and to immediately return back in the house the minute I go back in. All of this assures that the dog won't run off and is completely attentive.


Stop Biting
Puppies use their mouths to connect with you (since they can't use their hands), and biting takes weeks to gradually stop. Meanwhile, use toys to distract their mouths.  If you have a dog that seriously loves to bite and mouth, get "bully sticks"--they're amazing pacifiers and safe for your dog to eat (unlike rawhide). 

 

Never Hit Your Dog or Raise Your Voice
If you're using proper training, you will never need to raise your voice. Your dog can hear you! :) Of course, whether the dog wants to listen is another issue--and he will want to if you make training fun and use very short sessions. Never hit your dog in any way--it only causes fear and aggression. Patience, repetition, and short sessions are key.