Dogs are pretty cute and a fantastic asset to your home. Of course, that’s when they’re not tearing it apart and causing mischief! A well behaved dog is what you want to be having in your home, but a dog doesn’t just become a master at obeying commands overnight. A dog requires a lot of patience and training in order to be the pet that you deserve.
The truth is that training is important, both for you and for your dog. That’s why it’s so important to get started on your training early. Not every pet owner knows automatically how to
train their dog, of course, so a little bit of help may be needed. That’s where we come in! Here’s everything that you need to know about training a well adjusted and well behaved dog.
What Is Dog Training?
First of all, let’s answer one very basic question – what exactly is
dog training? We’re glad that you asked! Dog training is basically exactly what it sounds like – it’s encouraging your dog to perform certain behaviors through a process of repetition and behavioral analysis. It’s not just about teaching your dog to do something though – it’s also about stopping certain behaviors.
Dog training can consist of a lot of different things. You may encourage your dog to associate something positive with performing a certain action. For instance, you may give them a treat when they sit down, and they will sit down on command in future when you have done this enough times. With practice, your dog will be performing the behaviors that you want because you have trained them properly. They’ll stop jumping all over people who come into the room, or you may be able to walk them without them pulling so often. In order to achieve these kinds of results though, a dog owner needs to ensure that they are training their dog in the correct manner.
You may be wondering if there’s even a point to all of this, though. Perhaps you don’t mind that your dog is destroying your furniture, or urinating all over the walls. That’s ultimately your choice, though dog training holds more benefits than the ones that you get – it’s also important for your dog to be trained for their own sake.
The Importance Of Dog Training
With that in mind, why is dog training so important? Why not just allow your dog to run wild and do whatever they want to do? Well, there are a number of different reasons. Training your dog is beneficial both to you and your pet. Here’s what you need to know.
Training builds confidence
For starters, training your dog is a fantastic way to help them to feel more confident. This is especially important for
nervous or timid dogs, because it helps them to feel like they have achieved something. It’s like with people – if you achieve something good, doesn’t it make you feel more confident? It’s the same thing with dogs. The more that you work on your training with your dog, the more that their confidence grows. This will help your pet to be well adjusted as they grow older and bigger. Strengthens bonds between owner and dog
In addition to this, another reason why it’s so important to train your dog is because it will strengthen your bond with your dog. There are many different ways to connect with your dog – you can feed them, play with them and more. Nothing quite builds a connection like training, though.
Through training, your dog starts to see you as an ally. They see you as someone that’s proud of them for doing what they are supposed to do. They see you as a treat giver, and someone that loves them. Someone that cares about them enough to spend so much time with them through training. That’s a truly special bond that you can’t break, and a real companionship. It helps your dog to respect you too, and helps you to establish yourself as the alpha of the pack. It’s part of the reason why all family members should be encouraged to work on training with a new pet – it cements the bond between family and pet.
It Keeps Them Safe
Perhaps the single most important thing about training your dog is that it helps to keep them safe. If the other reasons listed here haven’t convinced you to get into training your dog, let this be the thing that drives you. A dog that has been trained well is one that is more likely to be safe.
Think about it this way. You’re out for a
walk with your dog, and you’ve decided to let them off the leash. You’ve taught them a little bit about good etiquette when walking off the lead, but one thing that they don’t know yet is good recall. Suddenly, they see another dog across the street and they start sprinting across the street. They don’t have good recall and don’t know when to come back to you. Perhaps they get lost, get hurt by another dog or by a car. This can be devastating for all involved.
If a dog is well trained, it not only keeps them safe but it also means that you can provide them with more freedom to give them a much happier life. They won’t be digging into places where they shouldn’t be going that could get them hurt. They are less likely to get into accidents and cause further issues both for themselves and potentially for the people you love.
Dog Training: Item Checklist
So now that you know more about why you should be training your dog, what do you need for this task? Well, training isn’t something that’s going to happen overnight, but there are some tools that you are going to need in your arsenal if you want to be successful in your endeavours.
The first thing that you are going to need when training your dog is a form of reward. When your dog performs the action that you desire, you need to ensure that you are rewarding them for it. Now, the reward in question depends on the dog. Some dogs respond best to lots of love and praise after they have been good, some prefer to be given toys. The universal reward that works for the vast majority of dogs, however, is treats. Dogs love food, and they respond well when they are rewarded with it.
Now, let’s just get one thing straight before we get into this. While
treats are a very important training tool, they shouldn’t be the only reward that you give your dog. Instead, you should combine treats with other rewards, such as praise and affection, play and other things that your dog loves.
Now that’s out of the way, what can you give to your dog as a treat? It depends on the dog! The safest option is to go with dog training treats. These are designed specifically for training your dog, so they’re a safe bet. These are designed to be the perfect size for training – no bigger than a blueberry. It’s usually best to go for treats that taste meaty and are soft.
They aren’t the only option though. You could give your dog some fruit such as pieces of banana (Not grapes, though – they’re one of those foods that you absolutely
do not want to be feeding to your dog) or you could give them some fresh meat. You could even give them little bits of kibble. Many dogs enjoy peanut butter and vegetables too. Of course, always make sure that you are giving treats to your dog in moderation – they should not be making up the majority of your dog’s diet. Ensuring that your dog has a healthy, balanced diet helps to keep them in their best possible condition. Leash
In addition to this, you’re also going to need a leash. A leash is important when you first start training your dog to walk politely alongside you. Your dog isn’t going to know how to behave properly off the leash straight away, and there are also going to be locations where they cannot walk off the lead anyway.
Buying the correct leash is important, too. You can usually get them in ranges from around four and six feet, and some of them will stretch. You should ensure that the leash is just long enough for you to have a little bit of slack when they remain close to you while walking. It shouldn’t always be tight when walking. You can also use waist clip leashes which are handy when you are training since it allows your hands to be free. If you aren’t sure what leash to buy, it’s worth speaking with your local pet store for further advice.
Last but not least, the final essential thing that you are going to need is a collar or a harness. These are important for a number of different reasons. For starters, if your dog manages to get out of the house and escape, then you can put the ID tag of your dog on the collar. People can then identify where the dog is from, what their name is and more, so that they can be returned to you safe and sound. Not only that, but it’s a good idea to get a flat collar since it can help you to guide your dog much more easily while you are walking. If you pull too much it will help you to grab their attention. Some dogs are a little harder to control when walking, in which case a head halter is a potential thing that you can use while training. Do not, under any circumstances, use a corrective collar for training though. They’re not a good idea. Stick to the basics, getting a collar that’s a good fit. Luminous collars can also be helpful if you are planning on doing a lot of walking in the dark, since it will help your pet to stand out.
There are other tools that you may need that can also be helpful to use, though they aren’t technically essential. This includes barriers such as crates, playpens, portable mats and clicker tools. Whether you use these depends on your personal preferences, but they have been shown to be very effective for training a dog.
How To Train Your Dog
Now it’s time for the slightly trickier part – you have to get to training your dog. This can be a little tricky sometimes, especially when you first get started. There are so many things to consider and remember. For that reason, we’ve broken it down for you.
Two common methods of dog training
There are two main methods out there of training a dog – positive reinforcement and aversive based training. There are other subtypes, but primarily trainers will often gravitate towards one of these methods.
First is aversive training, which essentially consists of stopping your dog from doing certain behaviors by making them seem unappealing in some way. The dog learns because they don’t like the outcome when they do certain things. They tend to work for humans, for instance – we know not to touch a hot stove because it burns us when we do, which hurts. The same goes for dogs. They often come in the form of things like spray bottles, choke collars and other things similar. It also involves things like yelling at dogs, and hitting them.
This is not something that we endorse. It isn’t actually necessary to begin with, and it usually just causes your dog pain in some way. In many dogs, it doesn’t even work – it just results in your dog being afraid of you, which isn’t something that anyone wants for their pet. You want to create a solid bond of trust between you and your dog, and you can’t create that when all you do is punish them. In essence, it’s probably
not the best way to train your dog.
Instead, it’s better to practice something known as positive reinforcement. We’ve touched upon this briefly in our article before, but here’s the gist. Your dog does something good – they sit when asked, or they come back to you when you call them. You give them a reward. The dog begins to associate the behavior with the reward, making them more likely to repeat the behavior again in the future.
Positive reinforcement comes with a lot of benefits. It creates a deeper bond of trust between you both, more confidence in your dog, and much more likely results. If you do it correctly, positive reinforcement is one of the most valuable tools that you have to train your dog.
Understand how your dog learns
So how exactly do you train your dog? Well, the best thing to do is to really get to know your dog. It’s like with people – we all learn in our own ways. Some of us learn by writing out a million flashcards and doing a quiz, some of us learn from drawing a picture of the thing on paper and memorizing the picture before a big test.
Dogs are all part of the same species, sure, but they are also unique and learn in different ways. It makes sense to learn what things your dog responds to in order to train them in the most effective way. For instance, does your
dog respond better to having toys as reinforcement? Do they prefer to use treats?
Also, make sure that when you are training your dog, you’re doing it in a quiet part of the house. Keep them away from any distractions, as they may end up losing interest. Keeping the session short also keeps them engaged. Every session should end on a command that your dog knows so it always ends positively. Ultimately, your dog should come to associate training time with positive things.
Use positive reinforcement
Now we’ve mentioned positive reinforcement, but how do you get it to work for you? One of the best things to do is to use clickers! Clicker training is basically classical conditioning for your dog. When your dog does something good, press a button on your clicker and a treat should be dispensed. Eventually, the dog will come to associate the clicker with good things, so they will want to hear the clicker go off when executing commands. Some dogs even respond solely to the sound of the clicker, making it a good positive reinforcement tool to use instead of buying a million bags of treats! It’s a good way to wean them off treats, and instead you can use things like affection and praise.
There are some things that you shouldn’t do when using positive reinforcement training though. For starters, don’t overcomplicate things – don’t use long phrases when giving commands, just simple words. It’s easier for them to understand that way. Make sure that you are consistent with your dog. Finally, make sure that you are still correcting your dog when they are misbehaving. Redirect them to things that they should be doing instead of bad behaviors. It’s essentially like what you would do when raising a naughty child.
Essential Dog Commands Five commands to teach your dog
When you’re first getting started on training your dog, there are a few key things that you should teach them. This includes the following.
The sit command is perhaps the easiest one, so it’s the one that most people begin with. First, get your dog to stand in front of you and display the treat in your hand, Then move the treat above their head and say the word ‘sit’. Since they’ll be looking for the treat above their head, they’ll automatically sit down to compensate. When they do sit, you should then reward them with the treat. Repeat as many times as needed.
Second is the down command. To do this, get them into the sitting position. Then, with the hand with the treat in, move the hand on the ground in front of them and say down. They’re likely to follow your hand and lie down. When they are lying down, you can then praise them for the action.
This one is pretty important! Begin with using the sit or down command. Then, walk away from him – you shouldn’t walk far at first. It’s best just to take one or two steps backwards, and then count to three. If they remain in the correct place for the whole time, you can then walk back towards your dog and reward them accordingly.
Your dog may not get this one straight away, in which case you should just repeat from the beginning until they do stay. As time goes on you can then increase the distance between you. Eventually they should stay in the same place every single time without issue, though it may take a while for your dog to get the hang of it.
Dogs can have a habit of getting everything into their mouths, from your toilet paper to your baby’s toys. It can get old rather quickly! That’s why it’s a good idea to teach them the drop command.
This command can be simple with practice. Give them a toy, and allow them to play with it for a minute. Then, ask them to drop before they get bored of it. Hold a treat up to them, and then when they release the toy on the drop command give them the treat. Keep repeating until they get the hang of the command.
Teaching your dog to come when called is a vital thing to do, and can protect them in many situations. Teaching your dog to
come can be challenging. You need to start off with finding a treat that they like. Then, when you have done that, call your dog to you, showing them the treat. If they come to you, give them the treat. Repeat this throughout the day. You can then move on to teaching them the command in situations with more distractions, such as outside. Plenty of practice is essential with this command. Top Training Tips
Now you know most of what you need to know about training your dog! It’s worth keeping these vital tips in mind to get the most out of your training, and ensure that you get the best possible results!
The most important thing to remember when it comes to training your pooch is that you have to be patient. Training can be a very rewarding thing to do, and will bring a whole slew of benefits both for you and your dog. What is also true, however, is that it’s not easy. Training your dog can be quite the challenge.
What’s good to remember is that some dogs are going to be harder to train than others. Some dogs are going to have a personality that is simply hard to train, whereas some dogs are notoriously stubborn based on their breed. With these kinds of dogs, training may be even more difficult and frustrating, and you need to be prepared for this. On the other hand, some breeds are much easier to train, but can always surprise you.
Ultimately the main thing to do is to remember that this is a process. A dog is a living creature with its own thoughts and feelings. There are going to be distractions and setbacks that may sometimes get in the way. There are also going to be good moments when you’re finally getting through and getting results. Look towards those good times, even if they seem impossible right now. You will eventually get there!
Rewards are going to be your best friend when you are training your dog. After all, who doesn’t like to be praised and rewarded when they do something good? Think about it – when you were in school, maybe your parents took you to get some ice cream. That ice cream made you feel good and you enjoyed it, and your parents then took you for ice cream every time you had good grades. In your head, good grades = ice cream. Guess who’s a straight A student now?
Positive reinforcements and rewards work, it doesn’t matter who you are. They are especially good for training dogs. Get a huge batch of your dog’s favorite treats and flavors and use them in your training. Give them plenty of praise and love, and let them know when they are doing things right. Reward the good behavior, and you’re far more likely to see it repeated time and time again.
Maintain a positive attitude
Let’s face it – training can be frustrating. Sometimes it can feel like one step forwards and two steps back. You may sometimes feel like tearing your own hair out – why isn’t my dog listening or obeying my commands? It’s natural to feel frustrated when things aren’t going your way, but don’t let your dog see that.
Instead, keep a positive attitude and let that shine through. If your dog makes a mistake, go back to square one. Repeat things until they eventually get the hang of it. Trust us – they eventually will get to understand what they are doing. It’s going to take time. Have faith in your abilities as a trainer and in your dog. They’re smart and they want to please you – with the right attitude and training method, you can get the results that you want.
Speaking of training methods, if you are getting nowhere with your training, it may be time to reassess what you’re doing. Are you training your dog in a way that they are going to respond to? Are you using the right rewards, or the right training method? You will get much better results if you are constantly reassessing when things go wrong, and learning from it when they go right. Your dog isn’t the only one learning – you are too!
Last but not least, make sure that you are having fun! Training your dog doesn’t have to be – and shouldn’t be – a chore. Use it as an opportunity to bond with your pet. It’s time that you are spending together, you should take the time to enjoy it too. Ultimately your dog is learning a lot from you, and you should enjoy what you learn from them.
There are plenty of ways that you can make the experience even better for you both, too. You can make it into a game – there are plenty of training games out there that you can use, or you can make one of your own! Make the training sessions fun, and you can even get the whole family involved for a big bonding session!
Now you know all there is to know about training your pooch! You’re good to go and start class with your furry friend! Now, it may take a while or no time at all. Ultimately though it’s good to remember that this is good for them, and it’s a chance for you to bond. As long as you are practicing positive reinforcement and having plenty of patience, you are sure to get the results that you are looking for. And if you don’t get those results, don’t be afraid to ask a professional for help. They exist to help you, after all, and they will give you advice on how to train your pet when things just don’t seem to be working. Good luck!