As long as there have been humans on the planet, there have been dogs in our lives, from peaceful but separate coexistence when dogs were little more than the scavenging cleanup crew for our trash piles outside the cave, to the present trend of designer dogs and extravagant care of the most coddled “fur-babies.” Our relationships with dogs have changed a lot over time, and not always for the best.
As our relationships with dogs have changed, so have the methods used to train them. The method pendulum has swung from punishment-based pop-and-jerk methods, to a no-corrections, cookie-power approach, based on methods used to train marine mammals. The problem is, you can't leave your dog in the tank and go home; he lives in the “tank” with you. The truth is, there is no one perfect method that is going to work for every dog, every owner, or every problem. And that's okay; we're all individuals, and we shouldn't expect a one-size-fits-all, cookie-cutter approach to work for anything but, well, for making cookies! In general, you're pretty safe recognizing and rewarding the stuff you like, and ignoring or correcting the stuff you don't. The Everything Dog Obedience Book® will help you find the balance of methods that work best for you and your dog.
Unfortunately, many people wait until their dog has a behavior problem to start training. In fact, what people would call dog problems are really people problems, either because the behavior is totally normal for the dog (although perhaps exhibited in an inappropriate way) or because the person somehow caused the dog's behavior, usually by rewarding the wrong things early in the relationship.
The important thing to remember is that your dog is always going to think, feel, act, and react like a dog, no matter how much you try to treat him like a furry person. As long as you take his normal dog needs into consideration and make sure he has productive outlets for them, and give him clear boundaries and leadership he can rely on, your dog really can become your best friend. Like life, the relationship you develop with your dog is a journey, not a destination — enjoy it!