If you’re reading this, there’s a good chance you’re a dog owner. Congratulations! Owning a dog is one of the most rewarding things in life (though it can also be quite challenging at times). If you’re new to dog ownership, or if you’re just looking to brush up on your training skills, this blog post is for you. In today’s post, we’ll discuss some basic tips for training your dog. So whether your pup is still a little rambunctious and needs some puppy obedience training, or if they’ve developed bad habits that need correcting, read on for some handy advice. And remember: always consult with your veterinarian before starting any kind of training program with your pet. Let’s get into it!
Sign up for obedience classes
Training is important—and, generally speaking, the sooner you get started, the better. For such a vital phase of doggy development, why wouldn’t you get started with a professional? Whether you want to hire a private instructor or enrol in doggy obedience school, you can’t go wrong with professional intervention. Even if your pup is no longer a puppy, it’s never too late to teach an old dog new tricks—or at least strongly encourage better behaviours.
Both forms of obedience classes have pros and cons. The major pro of private lessons is that you’ll have entire sessions to yourself where you can focus 100 per cent on your dog’s progress. The cons are that private lessons may be more expensive, and your dog will miss the opportunity of socialising with their fellow canines. The social factor is, of course, a major pro of obedience school, which also allows dogs to learn from others’ mistakes. The obvious con is the lack of one-on-one training, but you shouldn’t be deterred by this. Ideally, there should be no more than eight to ten doggos enrolled per class. This will allow the instructor adequate time to attend to each pupper and their specific needs.
In obedience classes, doggies learn all the basic commands, such as Sit, Stay, Down, and Come. They will also learn other important skills including leash etiquette. This will be a learning curve for humans and hounds alike, and it will give you an edge when training Pupper outside of class.
Don’t prolong training sessions
That being said, don’t prolong your training sessions. Keep them regular, for sure, but also keep them short and sharp. Ten to fifteen minutes per sesh should do the trick. You can also repeat them throughout the day—however many times you deem necessary. The best kind of peda-dog-y is repetitive learning. Drill the routines from obedience classes, but keep them to short, sharp bursts.
When it comes to dog training, positive reinforcement trumps negative reinforcement. If you respond to unfavourable behaviour with aggression, this will teach children and animals that you should throw temper tantrums when something doesn’t please you. This isn’t to say you shouldn’t be firm, but you should be fair, and ultimately frame feedback as a celebration of progress whenever it’s made.
Whenever your dog obeys a command or demonstrates the correct behaviour, reward them with praise or a treat! Once your dog has forged this positive association—which will take time, by the way—slowly dissipate treat-giving, but keep the verbal praise consistent. This will encourage your dog to hone in on their skills and work harder for their reward. Eventually, your dog will have the positive association so ingrained in their mind, they won’t need the incentive of a treat to obey commands or display the correct behaviour.
Image: Stylish Hound
Effective training calls for the right treats! Use something Pup can woof down quickly—something soft like cheese, cut-up pieces of hotdog, or soft commercial dog treats made with puppies in mind. As a general rule of thumb, avoid crunchy treats, which take a while to chew. These stifle the process and prolong what is ultimately meant to be a grace note in between the regular rhythm of the training session. Also, pick something pungent. The stinkier, the better!
When giving your treat, be sure to give it as soon as Pup’s displayed the correct behaviour. Have it ready to go, because if you scavenge through your bag, this will prolong the process, and by the time you locate it, Doggy will forget why you’re rewarding them. As always, accompany the treat with verbal praise.
Bark commands but once
Sometimes, less is more, and this is definitely the case with dog training. By repeating commands, they can lose their impact. Trust them to respond on the first go, lest they associate commands with nagging—and, consequently, stop responding. This is the last thing you want, so be patient, trust in the process (and your dog), and avoid repeating commands whenever possible. A little goes a long way.
Be aware of everyone’s limits
Everyone has limits, and that includes you and your pup. If you’re feeling short or angry, this will not make for effective training. If you feel yourself becoming impatient, do your pup a favour and end the session early. You’ll be doing them a favour. In the same vein, if your pup is not in the right headspace, don’t follow through with the session—even if you had one scheduled. If Pup is hot or tired or having a wonderful playtime, then let them be. Throughout training, it’s important to be in the right headspace—for all involved.
Finally, when training, patience is key. Everyone is a work in progress, and that goes double for puppies. Remember, they are striding out into the world bright-eyed and bushy-tailed—literally. Everything is new to them and everyone is learning, including yourself. Be patient and appreciate the fact that this will be a process. Maintain a positive mindset at all times and your pup will be off to a strong start.
Image: Stylish HoundSydney Unleashed is one of Australia’s premier entertainment publications exploring the latest in lifestyle trends. From Sydney’s finest restaurants, cafes and bars to the hottest in gadgets, products, and home entertainment, Sydney Unleashed is your one-stop lifestyle platform.