HiveFive: I have had dogs my entire life, so here is some tips/tricks that have been successful:
* If you get them early, train early, and remain consistent – always. Get them used to interaction with ‘strangers’ (like at a dog park), other animals/children (if you can). Rub all their body parts while they lay down; ears, belly, behind, paws, etc. I know that sounds weird, but getting them used to human touches all over will help them down the road. Prepare for accidents, but keep them consistent with going outside – such as, always taking them out RIGHT when they wake up, etc. They will chew, so watch them always, and try to not confuse them with mixing toys (such as, giving them a ball of socks as a toy, but then scolding them when they chew thru your laundry of socks, etc.)
* Crate training is a wonderful tool. Do not worry about putting them in there during the day, or at night. Never let the crate be ‘too large’ for them because they then they can go to the bathroom and sleep in a different spot in the crate. I have never used their crate as a form of punishment. I/we have always tried to keep it a ‘safe haven’ for them, where they do not hate going in there, or confuse it for a place to go because they were misbehaved.
* Dogs need exercise. If your yard can have a fence, then that is awesome! If not, daily strolls are important.
* In the beginning months of owning a puppy, I have used positive reinforcement when they do something good. A kibble, or some treats. Every time they go outside, they got a small token of appreciation, or listened, etc. Eventually, they will learn to do the good things for the rewards. Much like Pavlov’s theory, the treats diminish, but the behaviors will not. Bell training has also worked wonders for me. Hang a bell on the door, and you ring it every time you both go outside. They may associate ringing the bell for potty time and do it on their own with their noses over time. That is how our German Shephard lets us know she needs to go out!
* Smaller meals throughout the day has always worked better than one large meal. My dogs have seemed to beg less when we have done that, because they are not STARVING by the time breakfast/dinner comes along. Every so often, put your hand by their bowl/pet them while they eat – obviously restraining from getting nipped/bit. Our dogs have never been food aggressive once they learned that the hands in the bowl does not mean we are taking it away, etc.
Good luck. Sure, they can be a lot of work, but absolutely rewarding!!! (OH, and never ever think each dog does not have their own personality. They do, and you will learn theirs, and they will learn yours…)