What is the best way to train a dog? You may be trying to figure out how to approach training with a puppy, a newly adopted dog, or even a dog who’s been around for quite some time. There are various dog training techniques you can try, some in combination with others.
Training a dog comes with great benefits and rewards for both dog and owner. With time, patience, and a basic understanding of canine behavior, you can raise a well-behaved pet who might even surprise you with a few tricks. Here are some useful dog training tips to get you started:
- Understand Your
Establishing a strong bond with your dog will help you understand him better. Training your pet will be more productive and much more meaningful experience if you’re well aware of your dog’s personality, motivations, and temperament.
Dog breed would be one factor to look at if you want to really get to know your dog. Some dogs are bred to hunt, fight, guard, or prey. Sporting dog breeds, as well as hounds, are built to assist hunters. These types of dogs are highly alert and have very keen senses. Working dog breeds are strong and protective, while terriers are fast and make great companions. But even dogs of the same breed, like humans, can have varying personalities as well.
Your dog’s personality would help tell you how to best approach his training. Some dogs are more social than others. Some are hyper-energetic and some are a little more laid back. Researchers on positive reinforcement suggest that training, engaging, and playing with dogs more frequently helps in obedience training. Here are some more tips to understand dog body language better.
2. Use Positive Reinforcement.
Positive reinforcement is one of the few modern dog training techniques. Numerous research agrees that the method is more effective and enriching, as compared to traditional dog training methods like ones that use punishment and intimidation to modify dog behavior. In the words of expert dog trainer Sylvia Stasiewicz: “If you train using positive reinforcement, you’ll get a trained dog and you will maintain the spirit of that dog.”
Positive reinforcement works by helping your dog associate obedience with positive rewards. Before you begin, prepare literally bite-sized, but high-value treats. If, for instance, your dog sits when you tell him to, present him with a reward immediately. If good behavior is rewarded, the more frequently and easily the dog will perform said behavior.
Start with basic dog training skills like Sit, Come, Stay, or Heel. Every time your dog successfully follows a command, always reward him with a treat and encourage him with lots of praise and affection. Positive reinforcement can also be applied when house training a new dog.
3. Be Consistent.
What various dog training techniques have in common is that they all require repetition and consistency to work. This entails the cooperation of every person who interacts with your dog. When you introduce a command, family members should be made aware as well. If you provide treats and praises when your dog performs well, he should also be expecting the same from everyone around him.
Your dog will learn to associate good behavior with rewards, but it will not happen overnight. Constant repetition and consistency are key. You can lessen the frequency of rewards being handed out as training progresses, but you can give your dog all the praise and affection for a job well done. Keep training sessions short and fun, but make sure to spend time every day with your dog until the desired behavior becomes almost instinctive.
4. Establish Cues.
Behavior training through the use of cues is a dog training method referred to as clicker training. The method, which adheres to the principles of operant conditioning, makes use of a quick, sharp sound, such as a clicker, to signal to your dog that he has successfully followed a command. The cue will then be followed by a reward, in accordance to positive reinforcement.
Through repetition, the dog will learn to associate rewards with the established cue. Once the dog has been conditioned to know that a click means that he will get a reward, you can introduce verbal commands to create a new association. Several dog training professionals find this method especially effective in teaching dogs new tricks and more complex tasks.
5. Avoid Punishment.
More traditional dog training techniques such as the ones that adhere to the dominance (“alpha dog”) theory sometimes employ the use of punishment to correct bad behavior in dogs. Referred to by some trainers as “corrections,” types of punishment range from jerking the leash to more physical means like hitting or slapping.
While punishment works to some extent, such as in the case of military dog training, animal behavior studies have advanced over the last decade and we now have a better understanding of dog behavior and psyche. Studies have discovered significant evidence showing that positive reinforcement can work just as well, without causing unnecessary fear or personality problems in the animal being trained.
Alpha dog training is based on the assumption that dogs have a “pack” mentality and that you, as the owner, should be the leader of your pack. Many researchers have found out that there is no such hierarchy among dogs and that the dominance theory is an outdated one.
Instead of punishing bad behavior, continue reinforcing positive behavior, say “yes” when your dog successfully follows a command or behaves well, instead of saying “no!” when he makes a mistake. The advantage of positive reinforcement is that the more rewarded behavior is, your dog is more likely to keep repeating it. If the reward doesn’t come, he will know too that he isn’t behaving in a way that’s expected of him.
Here is the simple dog training chart to understand better.
With the right dog training strategies at your disposal, you’re more than capable of raising a confident and a well-adjusted dog that
will bring nothing but a joy to the household. The above-mentioned dog training tips should give you a basic idea on how to best motivate a dog to engage in the desired behavior. Always be patient with your dog and try to make every dog training session short but stimulating. You can be sure your furry friend will always look forward to the next one!