As a dog trainer, the biggest mistake I see my clients make is that they are not anticipating the misbehavior and only reacting after their dog has reacted negatively to something or someone.
Reading your Dog
After a few months you should be able to ‘read’ your dog and anticipate what his next move is. Whether it be to jump or bark or react aggressively to another dog while on the leash; you should see it coming before the act is accomplished. The best way to stop unruly or aggressive behavior is to correct the dog before he becomes unruly; or when the idea pops into his head.
You see it coming, the dog hackles, stares intently, perks his ears up toward something or someone; this is all body language that tells you what he is going to do. As soon as you see that body language, that is when you need to bring the focus back to you and give him a command. The dog can’t jump on someone if he is holding a sit and stay.
Right timing is extremely important when training your dog. Your dog must be rewarded as soon as he does what is asked; especially when teaching a new command and corrected as soon as he does something wrong. If you mark good and bad behavior immediately, your dog is not left in the dark about what you find acceptable and what you do not find acceptable.
When I am around a dog, whether it be my own or a dog that I am training, I am watching and listening to what that dog is doing. Many times their body language is subtle so you have to stay tuned to what is going to in their heads. If your dog is aggressive or just a jumper; both situations can seriously hurt a person and it’s up to you to protect others. You can have a conversation with someone and yet still stayed focused on your dog.
The best way to break bad behavior, in order of preference: (1) be one step ahead of your dog; if you see him think about doing something, redirect him with another command. (2) Correct him in the act; you are human, you made a mistake and allowed your dog to do something wrong, now correct the behavior. The level of correction depends on the dog but the correction should stop the behavior; i.e. he puts all four paws on the ground after the correction and doesn’t jump up on the person again. And, (3), you avoid the problem. For example, you know your dog jumps on strangers, when you know someone is coming over you place your dog in his crate or in a room or in your yard and you avoid the problem. When you have time to train and correct the issue, you revisit it then. You can’t train your dog if you are distracted, so if your company or a repair man is too much of a distraction for both you and your dog at the moment, it’s ok to say you are not going to train but give your company your undivided attention.