Your previous dog training could possibly be failing you miserably. Here's why.

It is generally (but not always!) pretty easy to train a dog for the basics. To sit, lie down, stay, come…that is all common dog training that most people come to think of and expect with dog training.

But what does that actually get you, besides smiles from family, friends and neighbors when your dog sits for a cookie during a training session? How does that transfer to real life when you really need it? How does that transfer to your dog's behavior during the day when you are not in “training” mode?

Does it mean your dog will be well-behaved? Not likely.

A well-behaved dog is one where your training helps them to understand and make good choices when you are not looking or are not telling your dog what to do.

Many people come to me for training or behavior issues and tell me they went to a class or another trainer, and their dog can sit on cue with the best of them – at home or during a training session, but they are a disaster in “real life” – not listening, counter surfing, jumping, chewing, lunging at other dogs on walks, or other issues.

So if you train with me, I will focus on helping you get a well-behaved dog.

But if you have not signed up with me for class, private training or online training, then I want you to start doing this with your dog now that will help you get to a well-behaved member of your family. And if you have signed for with me for class, private training or online training, then you will want to start this now to get a head start on your training with me.

If you've already started training, how often do you give your dog choices? How often are you telling your dog what to do?

While we want to do some training sessions where we are asking for specific things like sit, stay, and come, I also want you to start doing some training sessions when you don't ask for anything. Reward the choices your dog makes instead.

Try this: take a handful of treats of food that you would normally use for a training session.

But this time, just let your dog know you have the food but don't ask for anything. Don't say sit. Don't say down. Don't say come. Don't say no if your dog jumps. Don't say anything. Just let your dog know you have the goodies.

Then wait.

If your dog offers you a sit, reward with one treat! If your dog offers you anything that you like – sit, down, eye contact, personal space (i.e., not jumping or pawing at you or invading your personal space!) reward it!

If your dog tries something obnoxious, like jumping, pawing, barking or other things you don't like, ignore it.

We are looking for your dog to realize that he does have choices when you are not telling him what to do. He is learning to make choices rather than waiting for you to tell him what to do.

Keep these sessions short until your dog catches on!