Our Gentle Giants

The story of two Floridians and their foster Great Danes



July 21st, 2014

Don’t have time to train your dog? Read this.

By Tara

Obedience training is very important. It takes a lot of time, effort, and dedication. Unfortunately, not many people understand that and if they do, they may not have time for obedience training. To really get control over your dog, you need to spend dedicated time with them to establish good behaviors and break bad habits.

As I mentioned before, one of my goals is to get Roxie more trained before we get our gentle giants. She has a couple of bad habits that I don’t want her passing down to her little siblings.

Unfortunately, I’ve been a little busy with other areas of my life and have neglected to begin a obedience training regimen with Roxie. By “obedience training regimen”, I mean regularly spending a dedicated amount of time to focus on her training. But until I have more time to dedicate to her training, I’ve come up with an idea.

The Idea

You’ve undoubtedly seen articles like these: how to make a big difference in your life by establishing little daily habits. Not sure what I’m talking about? Read these common tips:

  • Weight loss: Use the stairs every day instead of the elevator
  • Clean house: spend 5 minutes every day putting things away so that you don’t need to dedicate a whole day to cleaning your home
  • Hobbies: Spend 30 minutes every day practicing/developing your hobby. You’ll get better at it in no time

Sound familiar? The general idea is that if you make a habit out of doing something small every day, something big will happen over time.

I realized that I can do exactly that with Roxie’s training.

dog-treat-cairn-terrier-obedience-training

The How

One of her bad habits is her whining. Oh my goodness, can this girl whine. And she will. About almost everything. And it gets annoying. That is one of the first habits I would like to break. Instead of purposefully triggering her to whine (by saying “do you want to go out?” or by offering food or by taking her on a car ride), I will try to take every “natural” whine as an opportunity to train her.

She understands “good girl” pretty well. As a puppy, we would say “good girl” to desirable behaviors and we would give her a treat at the same time. Eventually, we weaned her off of the treat and now just saying “good girl” is enough praise for her. I like to give her treats along with the “good girl” from time to time to continue reinforcing the phrase.

I’ve chosen a command already and I have loosely used it through her life: “quiet”. Sometimes, I will say “shhh” too. But mostly “quiet”. So far, she will get quiet for one to two seconds before whining again. I’ve tested this with other random words and she doesn’t have that moment of quiet like she does with the word “quiet”. This makes me think she understands the command but doesn’t have very much respect for it.

What I will do now is during that moment of silence, I will praise her and act overly excited. She loves attention, but thankfully she’s not that much of an attention seeker. After a few times of praising after one to two seconds, I will wait two to three. Then three to four. And so on.

My theory is that over time, she will stay silent after the command for longer periods of time. Eventually, she will obey the command and won’t need praise.

The Disclaimer

I know that if you want to reinforce any behavior, you need to do it consistently, not just during your training sessions. Training sessions are to teach them what to do and then during your daily life, you reinforce the training so it sticks. This idea is mostly for you to get started with training your dog if you don’t currently have the time to dedicate to training sessions.


Getting her to listen to “quiet” is my first step. Now getting her to not whine to begin with… I’m not sure how that’s going to happen. I’m open to suggestions. Please comment your ideas below!

P.S. as I pushed away from the computer, Roxie got super excited and started whining. Quiet!