Your dog is your best friend and can quickly become a member of your family. Dogs are affectionate, loving pets who will stay by your side no matter what, and they deserve happy and healthy environments that are conducive to their well-being. Just like humans, pets need boundaries and are happiest when they know what is expected of them. Dogs are very smart, and with some patience, repetition, and sometimes some special tools, your best friend will learn new skills and be an even better companion.
1. Give Your Puppy Tons of Affection!
Your dog will respond best to love and affection and praise. Yelling or punishing your dog will make them afraid of you, and that is the opposite of what you want. Positive reinforcement is considered worldwide to be the best way to train your dog for any situation, and will also aid you in having a positive relationship with your pet.
2. Be Consistent and Patient!
Consistency is the key to teaching a dog anything. Once you pick how you are going to train, you must do it the same way every time, so that your pup will know what is expected of them. You may get frustrated if your pup doesn’t pick something up right away, so be careful to stay patient and don’t let your dog see you get frustrated or annoyed.
If you are clicker training your dog, consistency means giving your dog a treat every single time you click, even if it was an accidental click. That wasn’t your dog’s mistake, and he is recognizing the sound for a treat!
3. Teach Your Dog to Sit by Letting Your Dog Sit!
In this technique, instead of trying to command your puppy to sit, you simply SAY the word “sit” whenever your dog’s butt touches the ground. What this does is teaches your dog to associate the word “sit” with what he is already doing. This is opposed to commanding “sit!” and pushing the dog’s butt to the ground. This will feel less like a training session to a dog, as they are already performing the action! You are simply telling him what he is doing and praising him or giving him treats.
4. Give a Command Once & Keep Training Time Short!
Continuing with positive reinforcement, give a command one time only, let the dog complete (or try to complete) the task, and then be generous with praise. Giving a command multiple times before he even attempts it will confuse your dog, and neither of you will get the right result. Even if your dog does not perform the command exactly, make sure you give your pup a treat, praise, and some pets.
Don’t spend more than 5 minutes at a time in “training mode.” Dogs have short attention spans, and a lot of extra time won’t give a better result. A couple positive results in a short span of time is much better than a couple decent tries followed by 10 bad results.
5. Don’t Do Too Much Too Soon!
Work on one overall command at a time, and allow your pet to really learn that one first. Once your dog has mastered one skill, incorporate that into your daily routine so that the skill becomes natural and second nature, and your dog always responds to it correctly. Once you and your dog have a specific skill mastered, move on to the next. Don’t confuse your dog with too much too fast, as he will get frustrated and so will you.
6. Use Training Tools!
There are special bark collars that can help with behavioral training to keep your buddy from barking incessantly. Whether your dog is a yappy breed or is barking because he is excited, scared, or stimulated, a bark collar can help you retrain your pup.
There are many tools that you can use to help you in your training. A properly fitted harness will help you leash train your dog by applying even pressure on his shoulders and chest turning him back towards you, so pulling on his leash is not productive for him and doesn’t get him anywhere.
Small clickers that will click-train your dog (as opposed to hand signals, voice commands, etc) are a valuable and inexpensive tool! Clickers are easy to use and your dog will very quickly pick up that a click equals food, which is the first step in recognizing training commands. You click when the dog does the right thing, then give it treats.
Remote training is a longer-range tool that allows you to push a button that will cause your dog’s collar to emit a stimulation such as a spray, vibration, ultrasonic, or a tone, which alerts the dog to your command. These can be used both to teach your dog new behaviors or to stop bad behaviors, like chasing or digging.
These are just some of the more popular and affordable training tools, and there are more out there so do some research and find out what will work best for you and your pet. Be patient, you may have to use more than one type of training or training tool to find what is best for you.
7. Have Fun with Your Puppy Buddy!
It doesn’t always need to be a training session. Remember that training times should be kept short so that your dog doesn’t get too distracted, and make sure you and your dog do things together outside of training. Go for runs, play fetch, take your dog to the park, give him belly rubs, and spend time hanging out.
You don’t want to get so caught up in training and obedience that you and your pup forget to have fun together. Dogs are a huge responsibility, as well as an emotional and financial commitment, but lots of love and some consistent training will make sure you and your new best friend are happy and healthy.
Featured photo credit: Happy pup via static.pexels.com