Celebrity dog trainer and YouTube star Zak George creates the most watched dog training content in the world and has helped millions of people with their dogs. In this problem-based guide, he makes it easy to look up and solve the exact behavioral issue that you're struggling with—whether you’re dealing with a new puppy, an adult dog you’ve had for years, or a recently adopted rescue. He also helps you prevent many of these problems from becoming established in the first place. Packed with case studies and examples from Zak’s videos so you can see his tactics in action, this book contains step-by-step instructions for dealing with:
• Jumping up
• Play biting
• Not listening
• Thunderstorm phobia
• Separation anxiety
• And much more!
Delving deeply into why dogs do what they do and how to work through any problems that might arise, Zak proves that it's never too late to correct behavioral issues. In this book, he shares his compassionate, modern, science-based approach that has worked with the thousands of dogs he’s trained throughout his career.
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About the Author
Dina Roth Port is an award-winning author and freelance journalist whose work has appeared in Glamour, Self, Prevention, WebMD, and dozens of other national publications. This is her third book. She lives in Boca Raton.
Read an Excerpt
Ten Essentials for a Well-Behaved Dog
Having worked with so many dogs over the years, I can tell you that every single one of them is a unique individual. And when it comes to training, each one requires a tailored approach. The dog you had growing up or at any time in the past will be different from the one you have now.
In fact, if I could change one thing about how people view teaching dogs, it would be this very thing. Too often, we have the tendency to think about dogs as though they are computers simply needing to be programmed. Many people believe that you can train every dog the same way. That’s simply not true. Others think there’s one set of training principles for German Shepherds, one for Labradors, one Cocker Spaniels, and so on. This, too, is incorrect, but even some of my own colleagues fall victim to these broad stereotypes.
I won’t focus on teaching you quick fixes or on getting you results with shallow or gimmicky dog training advice. Instead, I will offer you sound advice that can help you train your dog to her full potential.
Throughout this book, I will help you through the most common issues people face with their dogs. And I will address each topic individually, step-by-step. However, it’s critical to know that there are some fundamentals that everyone needs to consider when training dogs—no matter what you’re teaching.
As you train your dog and try to work through issues ranging from leashing pulling, barking, and jumping up to hyperactivity, anxiety, and aggressive behaviors, make sure you first address the points I cover in this chapter. The following ten basic concepts are non-negotiable for every dog if you hope to have great results:
1. Make Your Relationship Top Priority.
Think about why you got a dog to begin with. It was probably because you wanted a loyal, loving companion who can totally enrich your life, right? Almost nobody gets a dog because they want an unemotional animal who acts like a robot. And that’s a great thing!
If you were creating a building that you cared about, you would make sure that the foundation of that structure was solid and that every brick was in place, and that there were no weak points so that everything built on top of it would be solid, too. Well, the relationship you have with your dog is also critical. When it comes to training, it’s the foundation that everything else is built on. Never compromise it. In fact, make your bond the centerpiece of all training moving forward. If you don’t, then it’s unrealistic to expect meaningful results.
Too often people get dogs and they hold them to unrealistic, rigid standards immediately. I get it! You want your dog to listen right from the beginning—and that’s fine. However, you’ve really got to choose your battles with a new dog. The beginning is such a crucial time to establish trust and love, and this should take precedence over everything else.
See, it’s easy to get into a trap of constantly correcting a dog, particularly a brand-new puppy or a dog straight out of a shelter. However, at first, I just want you to work on your bond with your dog more than anything else. That’s because effective training requires you to have mutually earned trust between the two of you. That takes time. So be tolerant and focus on really connecting with your dog over those first few weeks (regardless of her age). The relationship you build will be the cornerstone for everything.
The most epic dog I’ve ever known was my dog Venus. Yes, I am biased, but really… she was incredible. She was the first dog who, as an adult, I committed to teaching at a high level. At first, I got her because I wanted a Frisbee dog and a companion. Well, I certainly got those two things and so much more. Venus completely changed my life. She showed me that not only are dogs capable of much more than I had ever thought possible, but they also have the immense capacity to love and enrich our lives in ways that are difficult to put into words. Surely anyone who has ever loved a dog will relate. Yes, Venus excelled at training, and she was an incredible pupil. But looking back at her life in its totality now, I understand that the bond we had together and the love we had for one another meant far more to me than all of her accomplishments combined.
What if you feel that you’ve already been too hard on your dog? Is it too late to establish a better relationship? The good news is that dogs are great at appreciating life in the moment. They don't hold grudges. If you take your time and remain tolerant and understanding from now on, you can still develop a strong relationship.
So how do you go about bonding with your dog? First, know that this is such a personal thing—it really depends on the dog. However, in my experience, I’ve found that if you can get your dog playing with you, you will be on the right track towards building a tight bond.
Researchers have discovered that dogs enjoy exercise in a similar way that humans do: a study in the Journal of Experimental Biology found that dogs can actually experience a “runner’s high”. So, pair that with the fact that dogs historically love working with and just being with humans, and you’ll find that some playtime together can do wonders for your relationship.
Maybe your dog is more mellow. Maybe she’s more reserved and just not into vigorous play. That’s ok too! Find what does make your dog happy and focus on that. Some dogs love being pet affectionately. Others enjoy going for a stroll around the block and taking in all of the great smells, sounds, and sights. Others just love snuggling next to you on the couch. What’s critical is taking advantage of every opportunity to make sure that your dog knows she can count on you to make her happy.
Of course, to bond with your dog and teach her that she can trust you, you also have to be a good pet parent in other ways. For instance, feeding your dog healthy food, making sure she gets plenty of water, taking her for regular vet visits, and giving her basic affection are critical. The same goes for learning your dog’s body language and understanding when she’s happy, sad, scared, or in pain. I think you’ll find that these things become somewhat intuitive as you get to know your dog!
Every person and every dog is different and building a relationship between you and your dog will be a unique process. However, remember that just as you easily fell in love with your dog, it’s just as easy for her to fall in love with you: a study published in Science found that when humans and their dogs simply look into one another’s eyes, they experience the same boost in oxytocin—the feel-good hormone—as mothers and infants do. In other words, with a little bit of effort on your part, you can have strong bond with your pet that will last for years to come.