If you’ve ever been around an extraordinarily-obedient canine, you know that the training process goes well beyond “sit” and “stay.” Though, don’t misunderstand, those are still both valuable commands. And if you’ve ever been around your average pup, you also know that this training is just as tough as it looks. The great thing is that tough doesn’t translate to impossible. Armed with the right tools and enough grit to get you through, making Fido friendly for any situation will happen for you. Here are a few tips to get you started with dog training advice.
Set Your Boundaries and Stick to ‘em
Set your boundaries, and stick to ‘em when it comes to your canine. Praise them when they follow your Alpha lead, and scold them when they don’t. Become your puppy’s pack leader. Boundaries aren’t always behavioral, either; sometimes, they’re downright physical. Creating space between you and your dog is also a great way to reinforce that you are the dominant party in your relationship. For example, as much as you may want to indulge your canine in too much cuddle time, don’t, especially on your couch or other human-oriented locations. Continuously letting your dog invade your space doesn’t reinforce your Alpha status, it only allows them to view you as their equal, rather than their master.
Reward Their Attention
Once you’ve established Alpha status, the next important thing you want to conquer is your dog’s attention. Since training at its most basic level requires your dog to pay attention to you, reinforcing his “check-ins” – every time he looks to you for cues or guidance – with a treat or praise is encouraged. Once you have your canine’s respect and his attention, there will be more tricks than treats. Speaking of treats…
Never Underestimate the Power of Treats
Most dogs are food driven. You can use this bit of knowledge to your advantage and with a little edible reinforcement, you can train them to do pretty much anything. Keep treats on your person, always. This allows you to make any situation a training session. Trying to teach your pup to walk off-leash? Pick a safe place to practice, treats on-hand, of course, and use direct voice commands: “Come,” “leave it,” “stay.” Pretty soon your dog will realize that sticking close to you is a reward, not a punishment.
Keep Calling to a Minimum
While teaching your dog to heed voice commands is probably tops on your training to-do list, overusing these commands can actually be detrimental to the training process. Don’t repeat yourself over and over again. Instead, call your pup to “come,” and if after a few verbal instructions he’s still not listening, don’t be afraid to walk over to your dog and physically bring him to where you want him to be while saying “come.” The same process works for barking: Instead of continually yelling at your dog to “stop,” go over to your animal, disrupt his focus on what’s causing him to bark while saying “stop.” Pairing action with verbal commands carries great weight, and once they make the association between verbal commands, actions and, if necessary, treats, at some point using your words will be enough.
If All Else Fails…
If your individual efforts just don’t seem to be cutting it then hiring a professional dog trainer to get your dog off on the right foot – er, should we say, paw? – is the next order of business. But just because your dog needs a little bit of schooling, don’t think that you don’t need it, too. Most ill-trained animals are the product of their owner’s poor communication and disciplinary skills. Instead of blaming your pup for his delinquent ways, take a good look at yourself first. Are there areas where you’re weak or lacking? Where and how could you improve? Sending your dog to a trainer is great, but if you aren’t able to reinforce that behavior once the dog returns home, then all the hard work your trainer, and your dog, put in will go to waste. You may even be better served to attend the professional dog training sessions together.
Whether you start with a trainer from the very beginning, or try to teach your canine manners on your own, the most important thing to remember is: A trained dog is a happy dog. A pup that is well trained is a pup that fully understands what is expected of him in most any situation.
An Obedient Dog is a Happy Dog
Consistency in how you approach dog training – be it boundaries, verbal commands, or other training tools – will prove the best approach in turning a disobedient dog into an obedient and happy one. We don’t know about you, but when we know how to act, most of the time, we behave better, too.