1) First of all, teach your dog the basic cues: Sit, Down, Stay, Come, Heel and the under-rated Sit at Side (under the guidance of a qualified professional as needed) so you have this basic language of communication. You should be able to execute each of these without a treat in your hand.
2) Teach your dog to Wait, and use this cue frequently throughout your day, at every threshold at which you have the opportunity, especially the front door or any other door where there is a lot of traffic or excitement. Help your dog practice impulse control by taking the time & having the patience to wait until he is in an appropriate state of mind to move forward.
3) Remember to be aware of your dog's state of mind. State of mind is even more important than behavior, meaning: just because I ask my dog to sit, and he sits, does not mean it's time for a "good boy!" It's not time for a "good boy!" if he is sitting, but staring down a target (like a stranger or an unfamiliar dog) with ill intentions at the same time that he executes the "sit." In that case, change your dog's state of mind by physically walking him (away from the target briefly in a semi-circle,) redirecting this attention (perhaps a game of "Touch?"), or even something as simple as "Watch Me" if his fixation is mild.
This applies to humans as well as canines. If you allow your dog to practice barking out the window, you may not see it right away, but that behavior will INDEED get easier for your canine to perform. The opposite holds true as well: if I require my dog to practice sitting to put his leash on every day, THAT behavior gets easier to do also. If I have him practice waiting for his treats, waiting to go outside, or to play gently with his siblings, that too will get easier.
Use this principle to your advantage.
18) If your dog makes poor decisions, don't put him in decision-making positions.
A lot of people don't even realize when they are caressing their dogs. If your dog is displaying stress behaviors (growling, cowering, shaking), now is NOT the time for affection. I don't necessarily subscribe to the idea that you cannot soothe your canine through touch, HOWEVER, we are all definitely in agreement that during these stressful times, what your dog needs from you is leadership, not coddling. Your nervous pup could be better soothed with gentle but firm redirection (physically walking in a semi-circle, perhaps) and positive association with stress-inducing stimulus.
***These are a list of ideas, tips & tricks that can make a massive difference in the life of a dog, but all of these things must be done with consistency and in conjunction with an individual program to see results. Also worth noting, when changing the rules, you may see an increase in the undesirable behavior for a time. This is because your dog is persisting in something that has always worked! At this time in particular, YOU must have more persistence and determination than your dog. Depending on your dog, that, my friends, may be asking a lot! But you can do it. It may take days, it may take weeks, it may take months, it could even take years to break through the truly tough stuff, BUT with consistency you WILL see behavior reliably change.
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