Dog Training Basics
Training your dog or puppy isn’t as complicated as it may seem at first! Here is some basic information to keep in mind when setting out to train your new friend.
Dog Training Equipment:
There’s no need to spend hundreds of dollars on fancy equipment to train your dog. However, having some of the following items on hand will make things much easier. These items can be bought at a reasonable price at nearly any local pet store or online shops such as Amazon.
- Dog Collar: Collars are devices that fit around your dog’s neck. The most basic style is the flat collar. These are usually made of cloth, leather, or nylon and are perfect for dogs that don’t tend to pull too much when walking. Dogs that do tend to pull might do better with a halter, which is a collar that fits around your dog’s head to give you a little more control.
- Dog Harness: A harness wraps around your dogs body and is connected to a leash between the shoulder blades. Dog Harness is comfortable for dogs that have had neck injuries, and they can also help discourage pulling with smaller dogs.
- Dog Leash: A dog leash attaches to your dog’s collar or harness, allowing you better control over where your dog can go. Leashes come in a variety of lengths and materials, including nylon, leather, and chain.
- Dog Crate: A dog crate offers your dog his own place inside your home where he can feel safe and secure. Crates can also come in useful when house training. It’s important to find a crate that fits your dog’s size. Make sure that he can stand up in it and turn around comfortably.
Dog Training Style:
Now that you have the equipment you need it’s time to think about how you want to train your puppy. There are a number of different approaches to take when it comes to dog training. Here are a few of the most popular:
- Positive Reinforcement: This type of training is easy to do yourself and ends up being a lot of fun for you and your dog. The idea behind positive reinforcement training is that you teach your dog new skills by giving him rewards when he does what you want. Never yell at, hit, or hurt your dog in order to teach him. Instead, make it an enjoyable experience for both of you by keeping the environment full of encouragement and love.
- Clicker Dog Training: Using the mindset behind positive reinforcement training, clicker training helps dogs learn correct behaviors by using a device that makes a small clicking sound. When your dog does something right, give him a “click” and then a treat. When your dog hears that click he’ll know that a treat is coming and will want to continue doing the correct behavior. These clickers typically only sell for less than $5 such as this clicker.
- Higher Level Training: Other forms of training include lead training and collar training (putting pressure on a collar to direct your dog’s actions), dog whispering (observing body language to communicate effectively with your dog) and whistle dog training (used mostly for hunting dogs). These types of training are a bit trickier to get right, so if you’re just starting out with dog training it’s best to get help from a professional if you’d like to use them.
Rewarding and Correcting:
Your dog won’t know what it is you want him to do unless you give him clear signals when he does something right or wrong. Of the two, rewarding is the simplest. When your dog gets it right give him verbal praise in a loving voice and then give him a treat. It’s important to give him a reward immediately after he completes the action. If you let more than a few seconds pass he may forget what it is he’s being rewarded for! Repeated rewards will drive home the point that he’s exhibiting good behavior, making him more likely to repeat the desired action.
Correcting your dog can be a bit trickier. If he exhibits unwanted behavior, try one of the following strategies:
- Verbal Reprimand: When your dog does something he shouldn’t, use a word like “no” or “enough” to let him know he should stop. It’s important that you stay consistent with the word you use and that you say it in a short, sharp way. There’s no need to yell or be angry, but be firm and direct.
- Correction: Show your dog what he should be doing when he displays a bad behavior. This is especially effective when paired with a verbal reprimand. Tell him no and give him another command (“sit” or “lie down”). When he complies, give him lots of praise and a small reward. After a while he’ll learn what to do when he hears a reprimand and will eventually know which behaviors he should stay away from.
- Ignore: If your dog is doing something unwanted but not destructive (barking, for instance), make a point not to give him any attention for it. Turn your face away and show no reaction. After getting this reaction several times he’ll understand that the unwanted behavior will cause him to lose your attention, which is something he does not want.
Other Dog Training Basics:
There are a few things you can do to make training even more successful. Keep these things in mind throughout the training period:
- Consistency: Make sure you and everyone in your family are on the same page as to which behaviors are acceptable and which are not. For example, if you don’t want your dog begging at dinner, don’t let your kids feed him scraps under the table. Conflicting commands will only confuse your dog and hamper your training efforts.
- Voice: Your dog will respond to your tone of voice. Therefore, when giving a command make sure you sound meaningful, but not too enthusiastic. Save the enthusiasm for when you’re giving him praise (he’ll eat it right up!). Finally, when giving a verbal reprimand make sure it’s short and sharp, but not angry sounding.
- Timing: Dogs live in the moment. If you don’t respond quickly to his behaviors, he won’t make the connection between his action and your response. This will result in a confused dog and a frustrated trainer. Be ready to reward him immediately when he does something right, and keep a close eye on him as much as you can in order to quickly correct unwanted behavior.
- Have Fun: There’s no reason for training to be a difficult process! Your dog wants to please you and is happiest when he knows that you approve of him. Keep your time training him upbeat, energetic, and positive and you’ll get much better results than if you are obviously angry or unhappy with him.