Training your dog is one of the most important things you can do as a pet parent, but it can also be expensive and incredibly time consuming. The following ten dog training tips will help you get the most out of your dog’s training so both you and your pup are happy with the results.
First off, congratulations on becoming a pet parent! You're now a proud owner of a new bundle of sunshine in your life, but along with that comes the fun part of dog training. And it shouldn't be taken lightly or ignored, otherwise this bundle of sunshine might turn into a living nightmare.
There are many dog training guides and tips out there, but many dog owners are still finding a hard time properly taming their little beasts. With that said, here is a list of essential training tips that I've seen most owners seem to forget.
1. Your Dog Isn't the Only One Learning
Many people put so much focus only on their dog learning, when things inevitably go wrong, owners are quick to blame their untamed pet. Even most trainers will admit that dog training classes are meant to instruct the owners on proper ways to lead.
The reason for this is many dog owners fail to understand that training is a two way street. In relationship building, both parties need to find a way to properly communicate and understand each other. Which brings us to our next point.
2. Lead or Be Lead
By instinct, dogs are very aware of hierarchical power. Given any new environment, don't be surprised when they act in ways that challenge you with little power struggles. Similar to how at young child will test the boundaries by misbehaving, dogs will do the same trying to process who is in charge.
Thus it is extremely important that you don't communicate weakness or apathy when it comes to your dealing with you pet. It's in their survival instinct that they feel they are being lead by a worthy leader. A strong leader in a dog owner will allow the pet to communicate respect and obedience. Thus, your pet will feel comforted and more at home because they feel safe.
3. Training is All About Following Through
Unlike humans, dogs only understand things in black and white. So anything in the "gray" can lead to confusion. Combine that with a lack of consistency and you have a recipe for frustration.
For example, if you allowed a specific behavior to be okay while your dog was a puppy but then changed the rules as they aged, how do you think your dog will behave later? This change and lack of consistency in your actions will appear as them being disobedient. But its really its coming from a lack of understanding and proper training on your part.
In order for permanent changes to take place, the owner must be able to set and stick to the same rules. When practiced and compounded over time, proper actions will become second nature.
4. Timing rewards is critical
Timing, timing, timing. When it comes to providing positive feedback, you'd be surprised at how many dog owners don't reward good behavior right away. Dogs are creatures who think, feel and live in the NOW. This means that they will only understand that their most recent action was deemed 'good' when they receive praise for it in that moment.
This is why it is absolutely critical that you reward your pup when they show good behavior or they do something that was commanded of them. If you let the moment pass and reward them later, it might just be too late and you've missed a great learning opportunity.
5. How to Properly Show Feedback
On the flip side, if your dog misbehaves, how do you properly teach them? Some owners will respond with a negative tone, similar to how their parents raised them. This can mean yelling their name out, harshly pulling on their leash or even worse!
Instead of negative actions, let's consider showing negative feedback by simply removing positive feedback. One example of this is when you can sense that your dog might act out of line, just pull out a treat or a positive reward and let them know. If they act in a way that is not in accordance with what you wish, then simply withdraw the reward. Dogs are smarter than you think and they will associate their negative action will the withdrawal of the treat. You'll be surprised at how they will behave next time!
6. Reinforce The Positivity Behind Calling Their Name
We have to agree that calling your dog's name and having them respond is probably the most important command of all. But there are nuances that develop beyond initially having your dog remember it's name. Dog owners, over time, forget to reward their pups for obeying when their name is called!
How does this happen? Over time, people sometimes get lazy. They believe that their dog will respond to their call all the time. But we have to remember that sometimes we may call our dogs name because they did something we didn't like. If that happens too many times, then our dog will associate the calling of their name to receiving negative feedback! Thus they may not respond when their name is called. Owners must be aware of this and build up the positive correlation to calling of their dogs name again.
7. Socializing Your Dog Goes a Long Way
Getting your dog outside helps expend their bottled up energy from staying at home all day, but also allows for opportunities for socializing. Socialization is an underrated part of training because it simply teaches your dog how to behave around others. Sometimes dogs are socialized a bit too late and thus may react aggressively. Most owners might be quick to isolate their aggressive dogs. And thus might fail to recognize that they are slowly developing a reactive character trait within their pup.
The longer you keep your dog isolated and failing to understand pack hierarchies on the playground, the harder it may be to keep your reactive pup under your own control.
8. Street Etiquette is an Invaluable Lesson
Probably one of the biggest fears for a dog owner is imagining your pup taking off in the open street. And that's why its absolutely crucial to instill proper street smarts with your dog early on. But how? What's the best way to do this?
For starters, it's important to realize that your dog will always favor in the inside of the sidewalk due to it being far more interesting compared to the vast and empty street. Thus, they are smart enough to recognize the difference between the two. So when you practice and tempt them to step off the sidewalk and they actually do, your surprised negative feedback instantly establish that going on the street willingly is not allowed. Once they return back to the sidewalk, it's imperative that you follow that action up with positive feedback.
Remember to practice this a handful of times. With consistency, you'll neutralize this fear and both of you will stay calm when it comes to walking down the street.
9. Build Trust by Setting Them Free
Dogs are wild animals and they deserve to be given the freedom to act like it. You'd be surprised at how many owners keep their pets either in a crate, or on a leash at all times. Its also surprising when those same owners don't understand why their pet runs off automatically when they get unleashed. That's when things can get very scary.
It simply isn't fair to keep your pet feeling like they aren't free to be themselves. And a little bit of freedom for them, can mean a lifetime of obedience for you. When they feel like they are treated with respect and an equal part of the family, they'll return the favor with loyalty and love that dogs are known for.
10. Don't Forget to Give Closure
Whatever you start, you must finish. And the same thing applies to commands to your dog. The reason is simple, without closure your pup might be left in a state of confusion if he or she did what you wanted. If things are left undone, then that leaves your pup deciding for themselves if they are free to carry on with what they want.
How to properly release them is to either give positive or negative feedback, or say "okay, you're free." Once again by following through with consistent commands, you and your dog are on the way to a healthy and obedient future.
We hope that you found this article helpful! Just a reminder, good things take time, and patience can go a long way. We wish you the best on your new adventure and if you feel compelled to share this article with someone who needs it, that would mean the world to us.