The necessary tools for training a dog are enthusiasm, consistency, and praise. Achieving your goal of a well-behaved dog, however, can take different methods. First, we’ll talk about the different ways people choose to train their dogs, and then we’ll go over five basic dog training commands to help address a wide range of dog behavior.
Positive Reinforcement Dog Training
Most dogs are food motivated, so using treats to train them is a common and proven method. That said there are many dog parents who would rather use praise, petting, or toys as positive reinforcement to teach their dogs how to behave. Both are effective if done properly, so it comes down to finding what works best for you and your dog. Break down your training sessions into manageable lessons, focusing on a command for no more than 10-15 minutes. This will help maintain your pet’s attention and allow for breaks between practice sessions. Positive reinforcement training requires commitment and is most effective when practiced consistently.
If you use treats, be sure to choose a tiny, soft treat that doesn’t crumble. You want your dog to be able to gulp it down fast before she loses her train of thought. Don’t forget to consider calorie and fat content in conjunction with your pet’s diet. Pet health can be compromised by too many treats, especially human food like cheese or bread.
Online Dog Training
Dog trainers or animal behaviorist are another effective method when it comes to training your new puppy. Dog training books, online videos, or even dedicated smart phone apps are available to pet parents. Any one of these options allows them to receive training tips or advice and work one-on-one with their dog. This approach can be very convenient as it allows owners to train on their own schedule. Pulling out a phone and performing a quick search to teach your dog to shake provides a wide range of results, all within reach of your fingertips.
Advantages of Puppy Training Classes
Other dog owners may prefer obedience training programs where their dog gets a chance to socialize with a variety of other breeds. Socialization early in a dog’s life is crucial for their future experiences with dogs and is a key advantage to this training method. Puppies in particular need to learn how to play and get along with other dogs as soon as possible. In addition to playing with other dogs, a group environment exposes your dog to different settings and situations, as well as a mix of people.
The key to all of these approaches is the same—to form a bond with your dog. A strong bond between you and your dog will help build a relationship in which you are the leader. Being the leader in your dog’s life will help to ensure they follow the rules you establish. Finally, find out what training tips the experts recommend. The CIA’s K-9 Unit uses many of the methods outlined above, but also offers some great advice when it comes to training your dog.
5 Basic Dog Obedience Commands
However you decide to train your dog, learning these five dog obedience commands will be essential. Substitute praise for treats if you choose that as your reward method.
Hold a treat in front of your dog’s nose and motion up and back at a 45-degree angle. Your dog will follow the treat, bending her head back until she sits. Say yes or click and then reward them with the treat. Repeat this a few times. Next, show her the treat, but don’t lure her with it. Wait until she sits on her own, then click and treat. Repeat this until she immediately sits every time you show her a treat.
Hold a desirable object in front of you in the palm of your hand. When your dog reaches for the object, close your hand and pull away and say, “Leave it.” Repeat this step until your dog stops reaching for the object. Now, place the object on the floor. If your dog reaches for it, cover it with your foot or hand. When your pup consistently leaves the object alone, add the cue, “Leave it” just before you present the object. As soon as she backs off, click and say, “Leave it.” This command will enable you to stop your dog from engaging in things like discarded chicken bones, toxic plants, or an unfriendly dog.
Start with your dog sitting. Hold a treat in front of her nose, and motion with it straight down to the floor between her paws. She most likely will follow the treat to the floor, lying down as she does. As soon as she is lying down, click and give her a treat.
Use this in conjunction with the “sit” command. As your puppy sits, hold your open palm in front of her face and say, “Stay” while you hold the leash with your other hand. When she stays for a few seconds, say, “Good stay” and treat. Repeat a few times. Gradually move further away from your dog and increase the time you ask her to stay. This command is crucial in emergency situations. Let’s say you’re visiting a local park with your kiddo and he or she takes a tumble off a swing. You can put your dog into a “stay,” and go help your child without having your dog suddenly invading another family’s picnic, or running off and getting hurt.
Turn training into play time by using the classic children’s game of hide and seek to reinforce the “come” command. Practice this game inside your house. Have someone hold your dog while you hide in the house. Then call your puppy by saying, “Come!” You may need to repeat the command a few times before she follows your instruction. Once she does, click and treat. This is a fun way to teach the “come” command, and it also teaches your pup persistence. If your dog takes after a squirrel into a busy street, or if you get separated from your dog in a crowded area, using this command can avert a potentially dangerous situation.
It’s never too early to begin training your dog. You’ll get the best results from your effort if you keep the learning process fun and engaging. A well-behaved and socialized dog, along with pet insurance, gives you the peace of mind that your dog has what she needs to live a happy and healthy life.
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