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Top Training Neglected Dog Tips

Mar 18, 2008
Training neglected dogs is about the hardest dog training you can ever do. These dogs have behaviors that develop without any guidance, and often the dog will have personality disorders (barking for no reason, whining, chewing, etc). Most neglected dogs do show an ability to be trained, and the only difference is they need to be truly loved and shown affection more than a dog that has experience normal social interaction. Neglected dogs should be trained with exactly like all dogs - with positive reinforcement by an owner who understands how to be a firm and loving leader. You will be able to use treats, play time, and petting to get a dog to do what you want (but no slaps on the top of head! Dogs hate it!) rather than correcting your dog for doing something wrong. Get in the habit of teaching your dog what you want, stop correcting what you DON'T want. If Rover is barking at the window, ask yourself: "What should be happening instead?" and go about teaching him how to do that.

It is important for every dog for you to use clear visual and acoustic signals in a quiet peaceful environment, and to gently ask your dog to respond to your signals during mounting levels of distraction. Use positive reinforcement each time the dog does it correctly, and be sure you have something your dog really wants at that exact moment in time. (Just like you, your dog may love to be petted or massaged, but not every moment of the day. Use toys or treats when your dog is excited and not in a cuddly mood.)

Positive reinforcement develops good behavior for any dog, but is especially important for dogs who have learned they could get hurt if they do something wrong. Be patient with neglected dogs, and maintain a quiet calm voice (yelling is a no-no) and let them know marvelous things happen if they acquire the "tricks" you teach them. Most rescued dogs will eventually learn to trust you, if you are consistently kind and gentle. Be kind, but do not try to make up years of abuse by spoiling a neglected dog, though. That can end up making the dog even more insecure, because what she wants is a benevolent leader, not someone she cannot trust.

To summarize: the keys to working with an neglected dog are patience, consistent clear signals, using positive reinforcement and not punishment. And finally, you should be comfortable as a loving leader.
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