Best Dog Training Methods
Dog training should never be viewed as a chore. It often is and that is why many people who decide to get a dog soon lose interest in doing it.
The obvious downside of this is that the dog suffers as a result and in turn, because the dog will then behave in a way that the owner doesn’t want them too, the whole situation soon gets out of hand.
It’s a real shame as part and parcel of actually having a dog IS the training, or it should be.
Along with walking, keeping them healthy and bonding with your dog, training HAS to be a priority also.
Dog training should never feel like a chore because if it does then your dog will soon see through it. Remember, I have already told you that dogs are smart and they can easily work out of someone’s heart is not in something!
Sometimes, however, the lack of taking on the training is to do with the actual person themselves not feeling like they can either do it or a total lack of knowledge and confidence.
This is perfectly acceptable and dog training, like everything else in our lives, can be learned.
So if anything we have mentioned so far in this article relates to you or someone you know, then read on and learn 10 great training tips that you can start to use right away and begin your journey into helping your dog through positive training.
1.Understand Why You Are Training Your Dog
With every new year and every new dog purchase, an owner can easily sign up for dog training classes near them and many do.
But do they ever stop to ask the question “What Am I Getting Out Of This?” or “What Will Happen To My Dog?”
These are valid questions and must be asked of ourselves and our prospective dog trainers.
We need to engage in the training and it is not just a case of going along every Thursday evening for 2 hours and then doing nothing all week until Thursday night comes around again.
Whatever training class you go to you must get involved and work on the training that you and your dog are given. I wrote an article a while back about what to look for in a training class and this is a good read to get to understand how important it is to fully commit to the training for both of you.
If you don’t fully get involved you will find yourself in a future situation where you are constantly shouting at your dog in frustration and your dog will become progressively more stressed out over the years and this, in turn, will make you more and more stressed out with them too.
Also, having a dog that is not trained is dangerous.
It’s dangerous to you and the public and other dogs and that can come with serious consequences.
Some dogs never experience that calm and happy life that we want for them and spend an entire lifetime stressed and anxious and I ask you in all honesty, who would want that?
2.Understanding How Dogs Learn
To truly become successful at training your dog, it is important to fully understand how they learn.
In simple terms, dogs learn from the immediate consequences of every action they do.
If a dog does something and instantly gets a reward, praise or anything that they deem as positive, they will want to repeat that action.
If they receive a more negative reaction then they won’t want to repeat it.
By the negative reaction, of course, we are talking about ignoring them. Never hitting or shouting as that is abuse and we do not deal in that kind of behavior here!
In many cases, dogs can actually only ever develop and ingrain what we would look like “bad behavior” as they have managed to obtain some kind of reaction or reward for doing so, even if it is attention or in some way for them to relieve stress or anxiety.
The best way to change this is by helping them to develop more desirable behaviors that they in return gain much better rewards from.
Timing is also vital. You need to be rewarding your dog in the exact moment of the good or desired behavior as this tells the dog that “behavior=reward” and it becomes hard-wired into their minds.
3. The Value Of One To One Training
Group training sessions and classes are a really great way for you and your dog to socialize and meet new people and dogs.
They are especially great for building your dog’s social skills and confidence and where at all possible, they are a really positive way to promote dog development.
However, not all dogs react well to this environment and it might not suit your dog.
This is especially prevalent if you have an anxious dog or you have adopted an older dog that may already have an underlying reason not to like being crowded by other dogs.
My dog Wilson is a bit like this and he takes quite a while to get to know or trust other dogs or indeed, people!
Some dogs get easily distracted and have low attention spans so group classes can be difficult for them.
In these cases, it is always better to try the one on one approach to dog training.
It can bring much better results and providing you and your dog feel comfortable, the learning process for your dog can be much quicker.
Think of it as private classes for a child who is struggling at school and that will give you a better idea of what we are dealing with here.
Try to make sure there are no distractions as dogs need the least amount of extra stimulus when they are trying to learn new things.
Keep the focus on the training and keep your focus on what you are trying to achieve.
Don’t overdo it either. 30 minutes of fun training and reward is far better than trying to “keep doing it until your dog gets it”
If you did 30 minutes a day for 4 or 5 times a week and kept it fun for the dog, they WILL get it in the end.
Don’t force the issue and the results will be absolutely fine.
4. The Value Of Teaching Focus
Many owners have trouble with actually getting their dogs to actually focus on them for a second even before it vanishes from focus.
The problem with this is namely that if your dog doesn’t focus on you or listens to what you say, then how on earth can you ever teach them anything?
In order to tackle this, we have to use a reward-based structure.
Start by talking to your dog and get them to “watch” you and when they do and even if it is for just a couple of seconds, out comes a treat as a reward.
What you are doing here is slowing your dog down and slowly building them to focus on you.
Gradually, increase the delay time between them watching you and rewarding them with the treat.
Try to build it up to 10 seconds and then build from there to around 20 seconds and this will be a great way to make your dog learn that focus equals reward.
You can get them to watch you and focus before food times and also walks and this makes your dog calmer as a result, but don’t forget to use the treats because it’s about building that focus and that trust.
5. Don’t Get Overwhelmed: Start With Your Most Immediate Priorities
Getting a dog for the first time or indeed taking on a rescue dog or an older dog can be just a bit overwhelming.
It is important to remember that your dog is going to be looking at you as their leader so you have to be up for the challenge.
That said, it is also important to be as calm and as laid back in your approach too. You don’t want to stress your dog or make them feel that you are stressed and worried either.
You have to prioritize what is important from the start so with that approach it is best to focus on the basics at first, namely recall, walking on a lead and everyday good social manners (toilet training, waiting for food, etc).
These should be your cornerstones of starting to train your dog and if you allow yourself a window of 4 to 8 weeks to get these aspects all boxed off. you will not only of delivered a sensible timed approach to your dog training, but your dog will also be extremely happy too as you have given them time to adjust as well.
Remember what we said in an earlier article about dogs learning at different speeds, by allowing a decent amount of time to get these principles in place, you have given yourself a chance too and the results will speak for themselves.
Avoid rushing this step, the results for a considered and timely approach to training will be a huge reward for both of you so don’t skip this vital step.
6. Do Not Compare Your Dog To Other Dogs
One of the most important things I have found as a dog owner is that although breeds of dog can look exactly the same, each and every dog is an individual.
Just like us humans, our dogs have their own unique personalities and characteristics and it’s important that we as owners don’t use a one size fits all approach.
All dogs learn at different speeds and although some dogs are thought if as brighter in terms of speed of learning, we have to tailor-make our approach to fit the individual dog.
The training of any dog must take this into account and therefore it is pretty futile to compare your dog to another.
Also, it is always good to remember that dog training is not something you do to your dog, rather it is something you do with your dog.
Working as a team will enhance the experience for both of you and also it will accelerate your dog’s learning as they will enjoy it more.
Sometimes dogs may have a background issue that affects their learning speed and if at all possible, this must be taken into consideration when embarking on a training program.
Things like abuse and any injuries that your dog carries can have a huge impact on training so wherever possible try to find out as much about your dog
Sometimes you may be unaware fully of their past especially if they are from a rescue center or a shelter, so it is always best to be cautious and optimistic in any approach to training.
If you think that there are many things that could possibly hinder your dog in terms of training, try to find a workaround or a different method of training.
Things only go wrong in training through one thing and that is lack of communication.
Get the communication aspect right and the rest will surely fall into place.
7. Be More Patient
Overall, the more patience you have with your dog the better they will learn and the better they will become.
Their confidence grows the more you praise them and reward them for doing the good things you want them to do.
It’s not rocket science, is it?
Dog’s react so much better to positive instruction and it’s much better for you too. Who wants to be shouting and bawling at a dog? It’s horrible behavior and I am totally against that.
There have been times when I have been annoyed with my boy Wilson for doing something but on reflection, it was MY fault for not understanding what he wanted ( in this case it was he wanted to go outside to have a wee and I simply didn’t read the signs, so guess what happened?)
Dogs simply do not understand shouting, but they do understand facial expressions and they will soon get upset and stressed by you…so DON’T DO IT!
We are all about positive training here on this website and you will see from all of my articles that I promote positive reinforcement training methods.
Dogs need your love and kindness and this is what they deserve and by training them with these thoughts in your mind and heart, the results will be pretty good, I can assure you of that.
8. Rewards DO Matter
Some people have a real problem with this part of dog training. They seem to think that keep giving tid bits and treats can either make the dog overweight or indeed they think the dog should just do the things without any kind of reward.
The brain of a dog is hard wired for repetition. Much like a human, they respond really well to rewards, as we do.
It’s important to start thinking about your dog in this way as they do need this in their life.
Reward-based training not only works as far as getting the training aspect to stick but it also builds up trust and grows that all-important bond between you and your dog.
The reward-based system not only works in training but it is also something that should be continued throughout your dog’s life.
It’s always good for instance, to have some treats in your pocket when you are going out for a walk and you can reward your dog for having a pee outdoors or waiting patiently to cross a road with you.
Don’t take your dog for granted after the so-called training has been done. Continuing the rewards will have a long-lasting effect and make your dog even more likely to continue with the behavior you want them to display.
9. Don’t Be Afraid To Fail.
Sometimes training exercises with your dog simply do not work. They won’t go well and the hour or so you have tried to get the training across has been a disaster.
This can happen for a number of reasons:
You are tired or not fully engaged, you may have something else on your mind.
You are seeing it as a chore
Your dog is tired
The weather conditions
It could be many things.
The most important factor here that the ONLY way dog training fails is when YOU GIVE UP TRYING!
So, if a day goes bad, simply ignore that day as a failure and try to ask yourself honestly “What went wrong?”
Usually, you will find a reason and then just try to build from that for the next time.
As I have stated before, training your dog takes time and patience.
They will learn and they will get it, but sometimes it’s not a quick fix, so commit to the training, don’t be too hard on yourself or your dog and the results will make you smile.