Your Ultimate Guide to Dog Training
With any new dog in your life, there is lots of excitement and maybe a little apprehension. You want your new pup to learn to be well behaved, but where do you even start?
This handy reference guide will be your ultimate tool to dog training basic commands and behaviors, even training yourself, so that you and your dog will have a happy ending.
Building a Relationship with Your Dog
First thing’s first, your dog needs to like and respect you before you can teach him anything.
Don’t bring him home and expect to start any kind of dog obedience training that evening. You first need some time to get to know each other and to start forming a friendly bond.
Training Yourself to Train Your Dog
You need to be as transparent as possible when working with your pup. Dogs have great perception of your emotions and mood, so a clear head and present mind are what you need to bring to the training table.
Dogs will respond much better if you’re able to leave your frustration about your boss’s latest email behind. This also means keeping your emotions in check during the training session.
Getting angry or upset when he doesn’t pick up on your commands the first time isn’t going to help when training your dog.
Making Yourself the Pack Leader
Dogs in the wild naturally form a hierarchy in which there is a leader that all of the lower ranked dogs listen too.
You need to establish yourself as that leader early on or your dog will walk all over you. The key to getting and holding this leadership position is consistency.
Set your ground rules and follow through with consistent ‘feedback’ when these rules are broken. When your dog respects you as a leader, you will find dog obedience training easier and be able to correct bad dog behavior.
Building Trust With Your Dog
Getting your dog to trust you boils down to a few simple things; spending time with them and consistency.
Most dogs just want to be with you whether that means lying at your feet or playing fetch at the park. Spending time with them at work and at play is important to build that lasting bond of trust and friendship.
What about consistency?
Consistency means that they need to be able to count on you to provide for them basic needs such as food and water as well as attention. Consistency also means that she will know what to expect from you should she break one of those ground rules or that she will get a reward when things are done right.
Training Dog Behaviors
All pups need some basic dog training to learn certain behaviors that are important for their safety as well as some that will allow them to be invited in your home.
Nobody wants an unpredictable pet that may bite, fight with other dogs, or purposely make a mess of your house.
When your pup is tethered to you with a leash, the last thing you need is unwanted dog behavior. A dog that pulls on the leash or lunges at other dogs or cars is not only unsafe it also takes the fun out of an afternoon walk.
Your dog should be comfortable on a leash and be on his best behavior. This can be achieved by making sure he has plenty of time to get used to the leash. Let him drag it around for a bit, even play with it so that he knows it’s not scary or bad.
Next, get him to come to you while on the leash. Use lots of treats and other positive reinforcement while staying consistent with your commands.
Finally, work on stopping on the leash. In order to avoid possible dangers, your dog needs to be able to hit the brakes immediately when given the cue. This cue can be a gentle tug or a single word, just be consistent and offer rewards.
Stop Dog Barking
Dogs bark as a form of communication, but sometimes they may be a little more chatty than we would like.
How you go about stopping barking behavior is to first decide why your dog is barking.
There are four main reasons to bark: alerting you of a visitor, fear, excitement, and boredom. The first three can all be helped with practice and the final can be helped with extra play sessions and interactive toys.
Stop Dog Attacks
Socialization is key to keep your dog from attacking other dogs and people. The other key is getting him to come to you.
Dogs can attack out of fear or aggression, so getting them as much contact with other dogs and people in a controlled environment will help correct this bad behavior.
Getting your dog to come to you when you anticipate a situation will help you get better control.
Teach Your Puppy Not to Bite
Puppies bite to help with teething and they bite during play. Both behaviors usually decrease as your puppy ages but sometimes that’s just not soon enough.
Help curb the chewing behavior by providing her with plenty of items that are okay to bite. Chew toys come in many shapes and sizes so when she starts for your fingers, offer her a toy instead.
Also, when the biting starts, stop doing what you were doing. If you are in the middle of playing, stop. She shouldn’t get a reward for this behavior.
Train Your Dog to Come
No dog training tips would be complete without talking about teaching your dog to come. This basic command is necessary to keep your dog out of trouble.
Start small. In a small enclosure, let your dog run and go about his business. Then call his name as ask him to come.
It may take several tries to get his attention but when he does, act very excited and encourage him to come to you. Offer treats, lots of pets, whatever will get him over there. Then do it again and again.
Move into larger enclosures until he’s got this basic dog training command down.
Train Your Dog to Sit
Another important and basic dog training command is sitting. It helps with keeping your dog's focus and can also help him gain composure.
What are some of the things that help with the sit command?
With the help of treats and positive enforcement, you can help reward the correct behavior and create a positive habit when your dog sits.
Train Your Dog to Stay
Same as sit, this is a great one for all dogs to know. You’ll want to start with just a few seconds and build up to longer and longer times.
How to start getting your dog to stay?
- Have your dog sit or lie down and then give her the ‘stay’ command.
- Take a step or two back.
- If he follows you, return him to the original spot and do it again.
- Give lots of positive reinforcement for correct dog training behavior.
Potty Training Your Puppy
If there’s anything puppy parents want to teach their new friends more than sit and stay, it’s potty training. Potty training can be long and tedious, so patience goes a long way.
The best way to potty train your puppy will depend on your puppy so it doesn’t hurt to have a few different methods up your sleeve.
Dog Training Methods
There are many methods for dog obedience training at home. Which method you choose will depend on you and your dog’s personality.
There are benefits and downsides to every method so you might employ a combination of them for best results.
Training Dog Collars
When used properly, dog training collars are a great way to get your dog’s attention when you’re trying to correct bad behavior such as chasing other animals and not coming back to you.
It’s important to use these on the lowest setting that you can and to try to catch your dog in the act from a window or other hiding spot so that he doesn’t learn to avoid the bad behaviors only when you’re around.
Dog Clicker Training
Dog clickers emit a small clicking noise and are used to get your dog’s attention. You want your dog to learn to love the clicker by giving them rewards every time they hear it.
You then want to transition them to paying attention to you when they hear the clicker for further commands.
Whistle Dog Training Techniques
Like clicker training, dog whistles are used to get your dog’s attention. Once you have your dog’s attention, you can give her further commands.
Dog whistles have the benefit of being heard over longer distances than a clicker and some emit a frequency that humans can’t hear. As with clicker training, start by rewarding your dog’s attention to the whistle and then work to rewarding his attention to you.
Crate Training Your Dog
Your dog should love their crate. They should see it as a safe spot and their own space instead of as a punishment.
Crate training is one of the best ways to potty train and one of the best ways to restrain a dog in a car. It will help keep new dogs out of trouble when they have to be left alone and can help calm nervous or anxious dogs that become over stimulated.
Dog Health and Safety
Perhaps the most important part of dog training is making sure that your pup is safe and healthy. He can’t perform at his best if he’s not feeling at his best.
Diet and exercise play major roles in your friend’s health. With proper training, he will safely be able to travel with you in the car or on foot.
Raw Dog Food or BARF
In recent years there has been a growing trend to more closely monitor our dog’s nutrition. For some pet parents most commercial dog foods just aren’t up to par and instead they are turning toward a raw diet or BARF (Biologically Appropriate Raw Food or Bones and Raw Food).
This diet is meant as an alternative to commercially available dog food diets and is supposed to be more like your pup’s ancestral diet; whole foods with no processing.
There are benefits and downsides to this diet as with any raw food so please consult your veterinarian before trying.
Traveling with your dog
We would all love to take our best friend with us wherever we go, but in order to ensure your pup’s safety there are a few preparations that you should consider.
The means of travel is a big one and you’ll want to make sure your dog is comfortable with all of the necessary restraint or confinement tools, ie. crates, seat belts, etc. You’ll also want to make sure your dog will be comfortable at your destination, so do some planning ahead and make any necessary arrangements.
Finally, check into your dog’s vaccination status and be sure she’s up to date on her heartworm preventatives. The last thing you want is a sick pup while on vacation.
Training your dog can be a fun and rewarding experience for both of you. It’s important to take it slow, don’t lose your cool, and have these dog training tips at your constant disposal to achieve wagging tails and big smiles.