Training your dog requires a lot of time, skill and patience. There are several methods to consider, depending on your goal. For instance, you may simply want to train your new puppy to pee outside, or want to teach an adult dog new tricks or skills.
Whatever your goal, here are some of the best tips to consider whilst training your dog throughout its life...
Puppy & Dog Training1. Make sure your dog knows that you're the alpha
Establishing and maintaining the pack leader position is essential in dog training. For instance, not letting your dog argue with you, making them wait for their food, and learn to obey your commands, are important in teaching them obedience and giving you the alpha position.
2. Have a consistent system of praise but don’t spoil
A doggy reward for good behaviour can be a toy, vocal praise, or food - it just depends on what your dog loves the most! However, this does need to be used in moderation. Spoiling your dog with treats, for example, will de-value the reward in training.
3. Don’t punish bad behaviour, correct it
The best way to teach your puppy or adult dog about wrong-doing is to give a command of disapproval at the moment the dog naughty behaviour. Physical punishment is never a good idea as it can scare and confuse the dog, especially if it is done after the deed. Instead, try and motivate your dog by praising things you do want him/her to do.
4. Decide on house rules and stick to them
Allowing your puppy to do a behaviour some of the time, such as letting them sit on the sofa when you feel like it, will be confusing in housetraining. Clearly define what the house rules are rules, and stick to them.
5. Have a routine
Having a consistent routine is fundamental for all ages of dogs. For instance, feeding, walking and playing with your dog at similar intervals throughout the day will give you both structure and strengthen your relationship. It will also impact other behaviours, such as training your dog to go to the toilet outside, or learning to walk alongside you in the heel position.
6. Use an instrument other than your voice
Whilst your dog may be intelligent enough to fine-tune into your mood level with your voice, this is not always the best practice to use during training. For example, have you ever seen a dog gleefully chase after a squirrel, bird, or deer, whilst blatantly disregard the owner yelling its name?
Using your dog’s name should be a rare occurrence – only signifying importance or your need for their attention. A great example of an alternative to name calling is a dog whistle or clicker. Teach your dog to associate a reward with the whistle/click sound, and then utilise this to tell your dog the exact moment he has done something you like. Unlike your voice, this method is consistent and emotionless, so your dog will know exactly what it means.
Intelligent Dog Training
According to the Cohen scale, different dog breeds have different levels of intelligence. The higher up on the scale a breed is – such as a border collie, shephard, or retriever - the more stimulation the dog is likely to need. They are also more able to understand new tricks and skills. However, whatever the breed, training your dog will rely on patience and skill – from both you and your dog.
7. Brain games for your dog
Devising some brain games can be a very rewarding experience for both you and your dog. They can start easy, then progress to more complicated tasks and challenges. Some great simple examples include hide and go seek, where the dog ‘stays’ and then comes to look for you when called, or a treasure hunt, where you hide a treat and your dog has to locate it by smell.
There is a great diversity of interactive dog puzzles available online, but there are also many DIY alternatives at home. Just look at the following video!
Furthermore, if you are fortunate enough to have a large garden, why not set up a dog agility course? This is a great way to combine dog training and exercise.
8. Watch out for small changes in behaviour
An important tip in training is to stay in tune with your dog’s behaviour. This may sound obvious, but small signals - such as ears becoming alert and your dog leaning towards an object – will indicate that they are beginning to understand you. On the other hand, an averted gaze or impatience with sitting down is suggestive of a lack of attention.
9. Don’t let your mood influence your dog
Most importantly, if you are in a bad mood, don’t let this influence your dog. Dogs are particularly fine-tuned to your emotions, so it will likely affect the training if you let it do so. Leave all those negative emotions at the door, and always end on a high!