The White Boxer Chronicles
Copyright ©2002 by Anton Uhl

TRAINING YOUR DOG


Training requires kindness,love and patience.
There is no secret formula that you can just "plug in" to your dog to make it obey you.


Cesar's Way is an excellent resource for working with your dog or correcting existing problems humanely.


The key to training is to use positive reinforcement and never to use anger or force.

Dogs are dogs, not people, no matter how much you love them or how cute they are. It is unfair for you to expect them to behave as humans. They want you to acknowledge them as dogs. They are social animals and require a place in a hierarchy. At home, you must be the leader and the dog the follower. Asserting your leader position with your dog can be achieved with gentleness and kindness, no matter how obstinate your dog may seem. I suggest reading the book "Cesar's Way." It will give you a better understanding of working with your dog and probably save you and your dog a lot of frustration and grief.

There are no firm rules for hand signals other than using anything gentle that you discover works, though some conventional signals may be good suggestions for starters.
I didn't know any hand signals when I started training Charles-Clyde and Mavis. A lot of the signals we used that worked were simply intuitive on my part as I noticed some things seemed to make sense to my dogs, regardless of what any dog club or book suggested.
One day my dogs responded to a "karate chop" I did in the air at the edge of our porch when I wanted them to stay out of the way while I moved some furniture. For some reason they understood my intention. I was amazed, so I immediately took 5 minutes to reinforce the signal. No one else in the world used this as far as I knew, but I saw my dogs respond to something and I took advantage of it. I could say "border" or do the "chop" in the air and define any space (such as a limited area in an open park) without even being next to my dogs. It was amazing.

Here is what worked for me and here's why. You may find your own "language". The one thing that is consistent in quick results is establishing your position as your dog's loving leader. Patience, gentleness and reward in the form of love and being fair is also important. Some trainers say not to use treats in training, but small treats can offer incentive in the beginning; focused attention and loving touch are excellent rewards, and children and dogs understand both of these very well.
Successful training is not the result of some recipe or magic. It is simply the result of repeating something that makes the dog (and you) feel good. Frustration and anger are guaranteed to slow the process, and neither dogs nor humans behave perfectly all the time, regardless of their amount of training.

Remember, no dog, hearing or deaf, speaks human languages... all creatures, human and animals, understand feeling good and feeling bad, good and bad intentions, and body language.

The things that worked for me were:
I held up my pointer finger for "sit". Gently lifting the dog's head creates a natural response for the dog to sit as it kind of tips him back. Never push down on his butt or backside as you could hurt him. Then a hug or kiss and a small treat. Small is plenty. Dogs don't think size or quantity like humans do.

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Gently lift your dog's head to make him sit back.

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Never push down on your dog's rear to make it sit as this can do serious damage to his legs or back.
Next was "down" (lie down). Works best when the dog is already sitting. I would point to the floor or point and move my hand down. If you have a treat or kibble in your hand and draw it down under the dog's chin and then then back towards yourself at floor level, the dog naturally follows your hand down and lies down to get at the treat. Then give hugs and a treat for their reward.

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For "Come" I would look at the dog (who was under control sitting or lying down) and pat my chest.
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Every day after breakfast and dinner I would repeat a routine of sit,stay, come,sit, down, stay. The dogs loved the interaction and attention and it was only a matter of days till they got it. It took lots of repetition, though, to make the lessons stick in the long run, so we just made our routine a fun part of every day.
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"Stay" was good when the dog was lying down. Gently cover their eyes with your hand. Then, as you step back, hold up your hand like "halt". Only step back one or two steps so the dog doesn't think you are leaving it.
Repeat sit and lie down as necessary to get the dog to lie down and then do the stay request. If he stays even for just a moment, go up and reward him. Repeat until he allows you to gradually get further away and for slightly longer bits of time in future sessions.
In any case, remember, there is no magic formula that guarantees a dog's understanding other than rewards in the form of love and gentle kindness (and treats!).

If the dog understands your loving intentions it will respond more quickly in the long run. If it understands anger and frustration it will become confused because it only wants you to love it. Everyone and everything responds better to kindness and does their best to avoid harshness or demands.

May you have long and happy lives together.
All our best,
Anton and family
The White Boxer Chronicles

Copyright © 2006 by Anton Uhl. All rights reserved.