Training many times have we seen it, the unruly dog dragging his owner down the street, leash fully extended, dog zipping left and right and the owner leaning back with some form of gait that is neither walking nor running but some kind of straight-legged jarring step that seems to pull every joint out of place.  Or maybe you are that owner!  Do you dread taking your dog outside for fear that it will mean another trip to the chiropractor?  Do people cross the other side of the street when they see you coming – knowing full well you have no control of your dog?

Training of a dog, no matter how big or how small is essential in having a well mannered, disciplined companion.  And never a truer word is spoken in regards to your Boxer.

The Boxer is an intelligent, clever and very strong willed dog, and in order for you to have a Boxer that listens to you and responds to your commands, you must take on the role of “pack leader”

See, just like humans, dogs also have families – these families are called “packs”.  Now in a pack there is only one leader and many followers – ever heard the saying “too many chiefs and not enough Indians”?  Well, it’s the same concept. You just need to apply it to your dog – you need to be the “pack leader” or “chief” and your dog will be the “follower.”  Too many times the home is run by the dog, he jumps on people, he pulls you on the leash while walking, begs at the table while you’re eating – the dog has never had any set boundaries or limitations so he has taken over the role of being the “leader” - maybe that’s why people have stopped coming over to your house!

So many times when people get a puppy they think it’s just so cute and adorable how the puppy likes to jump up on you, and they make all sorts of excuses for poor behavior from pulling on the leash, to biting your shoelaces as you walk, because they feel “so mean” if they correct the dog – see the problem is, that little cute adorable puppy grows up to be a 70lb mass of muscle that bad dreams are made of!  You need to be the leader straight out of the gate and training your dog from day one will help you to bond with your dog and subsequently your dog will look to you for guidance and leadership.

Dogs don’t automatically “know” the proper behavior – they have to be taught, bringing a dog into your life is pretty much like having a child.  Now in saying that, understand, your dog is not a child, you can’t speak to your dog like you would a human – he won’t have a clue what you’re talking about if you tell him “he’s not going to the dog park if he chews on Mummy's shoes one more time”....and there’s a good chance that if you’re telling your dog that, your voice is probably in some kind of high pitched frenzy - another no no when you are trying to train your dog.  Dogs will respond to that kind of excited energy in a couple of ways. They’ll look at you like you have two heads or they’ll simply ignore you – not the kind of response you want.

Also remember than dogs live in the “now”.  If you come home and find your dog has gotten into the trash can there is little point in flying off the handle and yelling at your dog – he’s not going to make the connection of getting into the trash and you shouting at him.  Dogs need to be corrected when they are caught breaking the rule you have set.

Socialization also plays an important role in training your Boxer.  It’s important to introduce your dog to anything and everything, that includes other dogs, cats, people, strollers, roller bladers, runners, the mop, a broom, the doorbell and anything else that may otherwise seem big and scary to your dog.  If your dog acts scared or afraid, don’t reward him by giving him a hug and telling him it’s okay, that is only reinforcing  the behavior. And don’t drag him toward whatever object or sound he is afraid of thinking that it will help him get over his fear – it won’t.

When training your dog you must remember to always be calm and speak in a voice of authority.  NEVER hit your dog! Using fear as a means of making your dog listen to you will not work – and if you’re that angry then you are probably more out of control than your dog! 

There are many avenues you can take when training your dog, you can try it on your own, you can enroll your dog in “training classes” at most local pet stores or you can hire a dog trainer to come to your home to work with you and your dog.  Remember there are no bad dogs – usually just bad owners.

So even if you have an unruly puppy or your dog is older – just remember “you can always teach an old dog new tricks”!