Training your dog effectively is one of the most crucial and rewarding things you can do as a pet parent, but it can be challenging to know where to begin. In honour of National Train Your Dog Month in January, we thought we’d offer some helpful advice to get you and your dog started.
1. Employ positive reinforcement strategies
The majority of veterinarians concur that the most effective way of dog training is through positive reinforcement. In essence, positive reinforcement training emphasises praising your pet for appropriate conduct rather than punishing inappropriate behaviour.
Reward your dog whenever they behave well and comply with your instructions. Rewarding excellent conduct strengthens the link between good behaviour and positive outcomes.
Make sure you’re not unintentionally rewarding undesirable behaviour, which is also crucial. For instance, don’t acknowledge or give in if your dog leaps up to greet you or barks at you to play because this only encourages the undesirable behaviour. Instead, give them attention after they have calmed down.
2. Select the proper prize.
Some dogs are highly motivated by food and will respond positively to any form of edible incentive. Others are pickier; they frequently like soft, chewy foods over crunchy ones.
However, other dogs just have no interest in food at all. If your dog is experiencing this, try trying with other rewards, such as a brief game of with a favourite toy or even just plenty of love.
3. Repetition is essential.
Being consistent with your training is crucial. This involves being consistent with how you train your dog, such as using the same word and even intonation every time you give them instructions.
Every member of your family must be in agreement, which is just as crucial. Dogs need consistency in order to develop new behaviours, therefore if you never let your dog to sit on the couch but your partner does, your dog will just become confused.
4. Perform frequent, short workouts.
Short training sessions that are repeated throughout the day are significantly more effective than lengthier ones. The American Kennel Club advises confining sessions to a maximum of five minutes; much longer and your dog may grow distracted or frustrated.
In order to ensure that your dog learns to respond correctly to the same command consistently, it’s helpful to repeat your training sessions in different locations, with different people, and with varying levels of distraction. Dogs frequently struggle to generalise commands to other places or situations (for example, understanding that asking for a “sit” at home is the same thing as asking for a “sit” on a busy street).
5. Increase gradually.
Starting small can be beneficial, especially when dealing with more complex actions like “stay” or when trying to change unpleasant behaviour.
Consider dissecting behaviours into smaller components. For instance, if you’re teaching your dog to “come,” praise and reward them whenever they simply take a single step in your direction. Once your dog starts to get the idea of it, adding additional steps and building up to the entire behaviour are much simpler.
Make it enjoyable.
You and your dog should enjoy the training process! Always be optimistic, and try to alter things up to make things interesting. For example, include little playtime breaks in your training between repetitions.
In addition to normal obedience training, you can think about teaching your dog tricks. When we see a dog turn over rather than just sit, we naturally react more positively as humans. Our dogs take up on this positivity and end up enjoying performing tricks for us.
Although it’s simple to get distracted by the ultimate objective of training, never forget to give your dog praise for even the smallest advancement.
7. Highlight the tiny victories.
Never forget to give your dog praise, no matter how tiny, for any progress. Although it’s simple to get focused on the end result of training, acknowledging and rewarding small accomplishments is equally important and will keep you and your dog motivated.
8. Include training in daily activities.
It’s much simpler to fit in numerous brief sessions when training is integrated into your pet’s daily routine. On instance, before you give your dog their supper, take them for a walk, or engage in play, ask them to sit or respond to another order.
9. Make hand motions.
Dogs cannot understand words in the same way that humans can, despite our wishes. Try mixing the two or starting with just hand signals and adding the verbal command later if you find that your dog responds better to them than spoken orders.
10. Speak with a canine trainer or go to a class.
Don’t be afraid to speak with a qualified dog trainer or enrol in a class if you’re having trouble. Professional trainers have years of experience that they may utilise to help you and your dog, and this is typically one of the fastest methods to see results. They will have encountered many different kinds of troubles throughout their careers, so they ought to have suggestions on how to handle any problems you might be having.
Spend some time researching your options before picking a trainer. Make sure they employ positive reinforcement strategies, and if you can, seek references or read a lot of reviews.
For more information, get in touch with our staff at Small Door. We regularly hold puppy training classes!