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Meet Brandon McMillan: He trained the tiger in The Hangover, coaches canines on his TV show Lucky Dog, and even taught Ellen DeGeneres’ dogs to sit (and stay). Here, he breaks down the top three mistakes he sees dog owners make and gives us expert tips to get any pup on track.
1. When guests arrive, your dog goes bonkers.
The fix: You have to be 49% animal lover and 51% trainer. Doing nothing rewards bad behavior. Put a handful of pennies inside an empty water bottle, and when your dog starts barking, shake the bottle and say, “Quiet.” The strange noise will get his attention and snap him out of protective mode. Continue this for a week or so, and he’ll settle down without hearing the sound.
2. Everything your dog learned at charm school went out the window.
The fix: Lack of consistency is the main reason dogs regress. To enhance your dog’s muscle memory, make practice part of your daily routine. If you’re teaching a specific command, like “Sit,” repeat it at least 20 times each session. His response will eventually become automatic — but don’t stop there! Practice every day, even if just for a few minutes; otherwise, he’ll forget.