Training your dog is a wonderfully rewarding and engaging experience, one you will both enjoy, whether you are instilling basic obedience commands in a young pup, or working on more advanced tricks with an older dog.
Whatever the objective in training your dog, basic behavior, recall, curbing aggression, there are several key factors that should always be borne in mind. Failing to appreciate how important these key factors are when training your dog, could have long-lasting consequences that may well get in the way of you achieving your training aims, and may also affect the positive bond that exists between you and your dog.
There are downright lies, mistruths and myths that surround dog training
- “Use a shock collar to stop your dog barking. It’s the best way.”
Bunkum! It’s cruel, unnecessary and, bottom line, it just isn’t effective. A shock collar is exactly that, a collar carrying an electric charge that is put round the dog’s neck. The dog does what dogs do and barks. It immediately receives a low voltage electric shock from the collar which is intended to ‘correct’ it. Some people say it doesn’t hurt the dog, but, folks, I’m here to tell you, it does! I tried it myself at the lowest possible setting. It almost made me weep. I would never put myself through that again, and I would never, ever, subject a helpless dog to that kind of ordeal either.
- “Training a dog by yelling or screaming at it is fine.”
No, it isn’t! Work on the bond you have with your dog. When your dog TRUSTS you, he will CHOOSE to obey you. It’s as simple as that.
- “If you want to successfully train your dog, you must use a dog clicker.”
Think about the relationship you have with your dog. Why would you allow a third party, a clicker, to come between you, to give your dog the instructions you can more easily, and intimately, give him with your voice. A clicker is a waste of time and a waste of your energy carrying one everywhere with you. Just ditch the clicker.
- “Using a professional dog trainer is the way to get your dog completely trained.”
No, it isn’t! Do you really think your dog, having been trained to respond to someone else’s commands and voice, will come back to you and immediately respond to you? It doesn’t make sense to me – and it certainly wouldn’t make sense to your dog.
Now, the top ten tips:
The Big Secret!
So what is the big secret in successfully training your dog? If there is one, it is simply, trust. When your dog trusts you he will respect you. The two are mutually inclusive. Once you have that trust and respect, provided you don’t do anything stupid, you will never lose it, and it will be the biggest single factor in helping to properly train your dog.
The best way to learn about how to train your dog is through watching video rather than reading about it. The video below will show you some Easy and practical puppy training tricks and tips by Doggy Dan. Click on play button to watch it!
Teach Yourself to Listen to Your Dog
That doesn’t mean literally trying to understand canine language. It means watch him, learn his behavior. If he doesn’t seem happy at meeting another dog, don’t make him, allow him to take his own path. He may be telling you there’s a reason he doesn’t want to go near the other dog. Respect his instinct. If you don’t, if you insist he meets the other dog, you may be storing up trouble for later.
Don’t Forget to Give Him Loads of Affection
Many owners are great at chastising their dogs when they misbehave or refuse to obey a command, and that’s not good. Dogs are extremely sensitive. They sense our moods, they know when we are happy and they know when we aren’t. And they need love and affection just as much as we do. Be generous with your affection. Go over the top when praising them for something they’ve done right. Be as enthusiastic as you can – they will respond.
Teach Him the Recall
One of the most frustrating things about owning a dog, is having them ignore you when you call them to you. It needn’t be like that. Teaching your dog to come to you when you call should be the first training you give him. Do it right and you will never be one of those frustrated and angry owners. And by getting him to come to you, you are reinforcing your status as pack leader. Do it by crouching down and calling him cheerfully by name. When he comes, make a big fuss of him. It’s called ‘positive reinforcement’ and it works. You will see the benefit of mastering this early in his training career every single day.
Stop Him From Jumping Up
Sometimes, as dog owners, we are our own worst enemies. We love receiving love from our puppies as much as they love giving it. So when they see us they greet us by jumping up. Our natural response is to stroke and cuddle them. What we’re doing is telling them it’s okay to jump up, that it’s a good thing for them to do. What we must do instead is ignore them, even turn your back. Don’t tell them off, simply wait till they stop jumping. That’s the moment to praise them, stroke them, cuddle them. Again, you are positively reinforcing the fact you don’t want them jumping up.
Just like humans, dogs have likes and dislikes when it comes to leisure activities, food, where they like to sleep, treats, and so on. Get to know your dog and learn as much as you can about it. As I said, they are all individuals, some are into fetching a ball, others enjoy working with apparatus in agility training, while others may simply like to have a rough and tumble with you. Discover what motivates your dog, work with him, and you will quickly learn how to make the training the enjoyable, bonding experience it should be.
And don’t forget to be generous when you reward him.
Rewarding your dog can take three main forms:
- Tasty treats – Usually a small piece of biscuit or a sliver of sausage. Always something you know he likes
- Praise – Enthusiastic cuddling stroking and verbal praise
- Favorite toys – It may be a cuddly toy, throwing a stick or ball, or just chasing him
If you are fair when training your dog, he will reciprocate and work harder for you. And remember, a treat doesn’t have to be food. Dogs love praise and affection too.
When rewarding with tasty treats, remember these tips:
- Don’t use the same food treat all the time, ring the changes.
- It’s a good idea not to give the dog a food treat every time you want to reward him. Praise works too.
- Don’t let your dog know what treat he is going to get until you’re ready to give it to him.
- When recalling, ensure the dog comes first time you call, or don’t reward him.
Use Dog Logic
It’s said that humans have an attention span of forty minutes. It’s a lot less for dogs, about two minutes in fact. So you have only a few seconds to reinforce something good they’ve done, or to discourage them from repeating something they’ve done wrong. The quicker you do it the better the chance you have of your dog associating what he’s done with the response from you.
Nipping the Biting in the Bud!
As we have already established, dogs are sensitive creatures. Their natural instinct will always be to please you as leader of his pack. If he has a tendency to bite you, don’t berate him. Instead, pretend he’s hurt you badly. He will probably stop biting straight away. Another way is to give him a favorite toy. This often works, too, when you’re trying to wean him away from chewing your slippers. And if that doesn’t work, simply ignore him.
Be Absolutely Clear When You Tell Your Dog What You Want Him to Do
Saying ‘no’ to your dog confuses him. He may understand he’s not to do something, but he won’t understand what he has to do instead. Give him the information, tell him what it is you require of him. A well-trained dog is great at obeying commands, but he does need that command. Use commands you have taught him, like ‘sit’ or ‘stay’, something he is familiar with and understands.
If You Reinforce the Wrong Thing, Don’t Be Surprised if That’s What You Get!
Sometimes we may wonder why our dog starts doing something we don’t want him to do. It’s probably something we have inadvertently reinforced ourselves. Consider this: Your dog has a toy and barks to ask you to throw it for him. So you do. You have just taught your dog that barking is how he can get his own way. But what if you don’t throw the toy and he barks louder and longer. If you now give in and do what he wants, you have created your own version of Frankenstein’s Monster. He will now believe his persistence will get him anything. He will bark incessantly whenever he wants something. What you need to do instead is ignore him when he barks, or give him a command to do something else.