Whether you are training your dog to be a loyal family pet or a personal protection K9, the fundamentals are all the same, according to former U.S. Navy SEAL Mike Ritland and author of “Trident K9 Warriors.”
Ritland, a disabled combat veteran and the owner of Trikos International, offers personal protection dog training for government organizations like the Department of Homeland Security, U.S. Customs and Border Protection, as well as private individuals.
Before he founded Trikos International, Ritland served 12 years active duty as a U.S. Navy SEAL and was a multipurpose K9 trainer for SEAL Teams.
Ritland also founded the Warrior Dog Foundation, a non-profit Special Operations K9 retirement foundation.
So take it from him, these three tips will help your dog become more well-behaved.
1. Show your dog that you are the leader.
First, and most importantly, make sure your dog understands who you are in the relationship — the leader. Ritland says it is no different than how we perceive our boss, commanding officer, chief, etc. You have to be a strong leader that exudes confidence.
“When you carry yourself a certain way and the animal understands that, that pays huge dividends,” Ritland says.
“You can’t explain to your dog that you’re his owner, leader… you have to show them. You can’t assume that they view you as somebody that earns their respect, you have to earn it.”
2. Be consistent throughout training.
Be consistent with both reinforcement and punishment. Ritland says that if your dog does something good, you have to reinforce that. And if something is done incorrectly, there must be consequences for it.
“One of the big things that people have problems with their dog is if it’s okay, it’s always okay… if it’s not okay, it’s never okay,” Ritland says.
3. Take care of your dog.
Ritland says owners must realize their dogs are a living, breathing animal that needs to be fed correctly, exercised correctly and mentally stimulated correctly.
“If you feed him crappy food and don’t ever physically exercise him or mentally stimulate him, you’re going to be behind the power curve enormously,” he says.
Ritland compares it to humans sitting in an office all day, eating junk food and never exercising — that does not allow for mental acuteness, happiness and or productivity.
Watch the video below for an example of Ritland’s training: