Dog Training Dog Training Basics

Published on July 16th, 2017 | by Allie Coleman

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Dog Training Basics

Dogs are identified as the second most popular pets in the world (second only to cats, which outnumber them three to one). In spite of this, a poorly-trained dog can find itself to be a friend to no man. This is why it’s important to teach a dog obedience, especially starting as a puppy. Simple commands such as “Sit”, “Lie down”, and “Drop it” can be an excellent asset in making sure that a person’s dog does not run wild and out of control. It also ensures that the relationship between the dog and its master does not weaken under the pressure that may exist if the dog misbehaves too often. Obedience training for dogs is also a huge assistance to help control the dog homelessness situation in America.

Dog Training Basics 1

Who wouldn’t want to have a well-behaved dog? When you can rely on your canine buddy to respond to your commands quickly and correctly, it fosters feelings of mutual trust between the dog and his human. You can count on your dog to be calm and obedient, while your dog  can trust you to look out for his welfare and well-being. He should learn what you expect from him whenever given a command to perform a particular behaviour.

Just like human beings, dogs are social animals and therefore need to learn the proper way to behave sociably in a group setting. This entails learning basic commands and behaviours to ensure that he or she can get along with other dogs and with human beings safely and comfortably and without impeding on the fun aspect of being in a group or family.

Positive Training and Reinforcement

We cannot stress enough the importance of positive training. Your dog will respond to your instructions better if you make it fun for him. The idea behind positive training is to show the dog that you are pleased with his elicited behaviour and this encourages him to repeat that same behaviour. The rewards you could use are food, toys or affection — such as petting or rubbing – or anything that would serve as positive reinforcement every time he gets the command right. This will make him want to please you again so he can get a reward or sign of approval from you.

When using food treats to reward behaviour, as much as possible use small and soft food treats like cubed cooked chicken meat, cubed cheese, or hot dogs or commercially available easy-to-swallow dog treats, avoiding the hard, crunchy treats that take a while to chew. The point is to give a quick reward that won’t distract your dog from focusing on you and the task at hand.

Give the food reward immediately after your dog has successfully performed the command you gave. The faster you reinforce the behaviour that you want, the sooner the dog understands what you want from him. This strengthens the association between the desired behaviour and the approval he receives from you for a job well done. When he becomes familiar with the command, he can later be rewarded by the sound of a clicker or an affectionate ear rub and no longer by the food treat. He will eventually learn that the best reward to receive is your approval.

Remember not to give treats during training just because the dog is cute. It would totally defeat the purpose of providing treats for positive behaviour and would only confuse your dog as to why he is getting a treat. And if he doesn’t perform the task as you want him to, simply withhold the treat until he does. He will work harder to gain your approval and earn his reward.

Remember to keep a positive and upbeat attitude during training sessions as your dog is sensitive to your emotions. Be ready with words of encouragement and a lot of patience. Avoid any negative reactions, harsh words or actions that can scare or intimidate your dog as these may elicit retaliatory aggressive behaviour or, even worse, trigger the loss of your dog’s trust in you as his leader.

Basic Commands to Learn

Here are a few basic commands and behaviours you can teach your dog to make him a welcome and well-behaved member of your family and community.

Sit

This is one of the easiest commands to teach and also one of the most important ones. Teaching your dog to sit also teaches him self-control especially in situations that could provoke excitability like a visitor at the door, preparing to go out for a walk or at meal times.

  1. Hold the treat close to the dog’s nose just enough for him to slightly stretch his neck to smell it.
  2. Move your hand up slowly over his head, letting his nose follow your hand as you raise it. As his head goes up, his butt will go down into a sitting position. When he does this, say the command word “sit” so that he pairs the word with the action he just did.
  3. Once he is in the sitting position, release the treat to his mouth and give your signs of approval (head pat, ear rub, the words “good sit”).
  4. Repeat this training for a few minutes every day until he masters the command.

Stay

To learn this, your dog should first have mastered the command to sit.  The goal of this command is to get your dog to remain in his place until given another command. This teaches the dog self-control in the face of the strong urge to remain by his master’s side. It will also keep the dog from charging the door every time he hears the doorbell or a knock from a visitor.  Have a release word ready like “okay” or “go” when you want him to break his stay.

  1. Command the dog to sit. Then move to stand in front of the dog.
  2. Hold the flat of your palm in front of his nose while saying “Stay”.
  3. Take a few steps back then return to your original position in front of the dog.  Say your release word then reward him with a treat or words of praise if he stays.
  4. If not, calmly put him back into the sitting position and repeat the hand signal for “stay” and take a few steps back. Once he understands what you want him to do and is able to comply, you can administer the reward.
  5. Keep repeating this pattern, gradually increasing the number of steps you take away from the dog, until he masters the command and is able to hold his position until given the release word.

Come

This command helps manage the dog’s behaviour by letting him know that you want him by your side for a task or to keep him out of potential trouble.

  1. Attach a leash to your dog’s collar. Stand in front of him holding the leash firmly but hanging loosely in your hand.
  2. Give the command “Come” while gently pulling on the leash towards you. When he approaches you without resisting or pulling away, give him words of affection and a treat.
  3. Keep practicing the command with the leash until he masters it. Later, you can remove the leash and practice in a safe, enclosed place until he is able to come when called.

Down

This is a submissive position that the dog is being commanded to take.  It will require a bit more patience to teach, especially around frisky puppies or high-energy dogs.

  1. Hold your dog’s favourite food treat in a closed hand up to his snout and let him sniff it.
  2. Move your hand downwards towards the floor, making sure that he follows it down.
  3. Slide your hand along the ground in front of him to encourage his body to follow his head as he keeps sniffing the treat in your fist.
  4. When he is in the “down” position, say “Down” and then reward him with the treat and affection.
  5. If he lunges or jumps up, say “No” and then repeat from the beginning until he figures out what you want him to do.

Heel

This command will be useful when taking your dog out for a walk or when you want him to stay very close to you, even without a leash. It entails having the dog walking on your left side, his head very close to your knee as you hold his leash loosely.

  1. Start with the dog standing next to you on a leash held loosely in your left hand. Your right hand can hold a favourite squeaky toy or anything that will catch his attention with a visible and audible cue. Hold it slightly above and in front of your dog before you start.
  2. Prompt your dog to look at the toy, give the command “Heel” and start walking forward confidently. Your dog should move forward easily, following the toy in front of him. If his attention strays, give the toy a squeak to make him look back at the toy or at you. Give him a word of praise or encouragement when he does.
  3. After around 30 second of walking at heel, his attention totally on you, you can give him the squeaky toy to play with as a reward.
  4. You can later gradually increase the time walking at heel and can eventually do away with using the toy once he has mastered keeping his attention focused on you during the walk.

These five basic commands can go a long way in fostering a deeper bond between you and your doggy pal. It’s worth the time, effort and patience to go through the hours of training so that you can both enjoy a healthy, happy and trusting relationship with one another. Remember that your dog always wants to please you and that you can steer that enthusiasm to teaching him to be a well-behaved and loving member of your family.

For more information on how to keep a dog well-trained, please visit the link below. http://www.aspca.org/pet-care/virtual-pet-behaviorist/dog-behavior/training-your-dog.

 


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