Everything You Need to Know About Dog Training
Training a dog can be both a highly rewarding and completely frustrating endeavor. Far too often, new dog owners stumble through training their pooch, then give up after a major setback.
Training isn’t an overnight process. Consistency and patience are some of the most important things to remember. While difficult, training also comes with high rewards since a well-behaved and loyal dog is one of the best companions you could ask for.
Dogs are creatures of habit and routine. By setting a schedule for meals, potty breaks, playtime, and bed, your pet will get into the swing of things much sooner.
That schedule needs to involve time outside, including walks on a leash. Your best friend needs exercise to stay healthy and happy. Also, a well-exercised dog is always better behaved.
Positive Reinforcement vs. Negative Reinforcement
Perhaps one of the most difficult things to remember when training a dog is to engage in positive reinforcement as often as possible. This means praising your pooch for good behavior, reinforcing it so your dog knows to keep doing good things. Carrying a bag of small treats and giving them out is a great way to help with positive reinforcement.
That doesn’t mean you never provide negative reinforcement in the form of a “no” or light scolding. But too often dog owners yell and make a scene when their companion does something wrong, inciting fear instead of changing behavior. Provide positive or negative reinforcement immediately for best results.
There are mixed opinions from dog owners about crate training. Some believe crate training is a cruel measure. However for others, crates are an effective way of training a dog. Don’t think of crates as “doggy jail” or a place to put your pooch as a punishment. Instead, they’re similar to dens wolves go into for refuge and shelter. Place a few toys inside with your dog, giving him something to do. Over time your pooch will learn the crate is a special place just for him.
Leaving your dog to run around your house while you’re gone can be a gamble while you’re still training them. You may come home to a mess. The same thing goes for when you’re sleeping at night.
With potty training, consistency is key. Always take your dog outside when you get them out of the crate. You should also do a potty break before putting your dog in the crate. Younger dogs need breaks often since their bladders are smaller.
If your dog does have an accident in the house, clean it up immediately. Take your dog outside right after, reinforcing it as the spot to go.Avoid yelling or making a big scene, since that can actually lead to more accidents.
Biting and Chewing
When puppies play with each other, they nip. You must teach younger dogs this isn’t acceptable. Make a loud yelp or say “stop that!” firmly if your pooch mouths you. If it happens again, stop paying attention to your dog for about a minute.
Provide alternatives to chewing on furniture, walls, etc. Get a nylon bone, rope toys, Kong, or other chew toys that are just for your dog. Don’t underestimate the role of regular exercise in reducing chewing. Many dogs chew out of boredom, so giving them stimulation through walks, runs, or playing fetch daily will eliminate the problem.
Dogs will often jump on people when they’re excited. You must consistently tell them no when they do. If a guest is coming over, it can help to put your dog on a leash and make them sit when the person enters your house.
Walk your dog in busy parks or other areas with plenty of people. Do not allow jumping and make them sit for people before they pet him.
The saying may be that you can’t teach an old dog new tricks, but that actually isn’t the case. While older dogs’ behavior is more established, you can still train them. If you allow it, a dog of any age will take over and do as he pleases, leading to many behavioral issues. You must always be in charge as the owner.
Ultimately, you may need the help of a professional dog trainer to get things right. Not all trainers are compatible with dogs and their owners, so do your research beforehand. Also, remember that you will still need to spearhead training from day to day, since a professional trainer only works with you and your dog on occasion.
While it requires considerable work and time, training a dog will result in years of happy companionship.