So you’ve got a new small furry member of the family. Congratulations! However, while puppies are a bundle of fun and joy and a source of great pleasure they can also be hard work. They have some natural tendencies and behavior problems that need to be worked on, meaning that dog obedience training is very important.
It’s much better for everyone – you and your family, and your dog too – if your puppy is well-trained and obedient and doesn’t show any of the typical dog behavior problems. Such problems include excessive barking, biting and chewing things they’re not supposed to.
Dog training helps you make a new best friend
One of the major benefits of dogs over other pets is the strong bond you can develop; after all dogs aren’t known as “man’s best friend” for nothing. But that bond can only be really strong if your dog respects you and knows how to behave.
Dog obedience training takes time and patience and requires a good understanding of dog behavior, but it’s well worth the effort because during the training you’ll naturally bond with your dog and at the end of the training you’ll have a new best friend. This article will provide guidance and tips on how best to tackle dog obedience training to ensure a smooth and problem-free path to a happy and well-behaved dog. Firstly, let’s take a look at some of the equipment you’ll need.
Dog training tools
You should get your puppy used to wearing a collar as soon as possible. Make sure the collar isn’t too tight. You should be able to get two fingers under the collar, between the collar and your dog’s neck.
Also make sure you check the collar on a regular basis as your dog grows bigger, as it will need loosening as it does so.
A Martingale collar is better than a traditional choke collar.
It’s also a good idea to attach an identification tag to the collar in case your dog gets lost.
Some states have laws that require dogs to be kept on leashes in public areas. Regardless of the law, it’s a good idea to do so anyway especially early on in your dog’s training. You can get retractable leashes that give your dog more freedom than the old-style short fixed-length leashes.
You shouldn’t let your dog get used to being allowed to chew its leash. If you find that your dog does start to chew on its leash when you put it on, a good dog training tip is to start soaking the leash in vinegar first. Your dog will soon spit it out!
Once your dog’s obedience has improved you may not need to keep it on a leash any longer, in which case you can use a whistle to call it from a distance.
You can use treats as either a reward or a punishment when training your dog.
You should praise your dog and reward it with a treat when it does well and makes progress. In this way, it will make the connection between good behavior and treats.
Similarly, withhold treats from your dog when it doesn’t do as told.
If you want your dog to be as healthy as possible, you should make sure you try to choose only the healthiest treats when buying them.
Strange as it may seem, your voice may well be your most important dog obedience training tool. The ultimate goal of dog training is to get your dog to listen to you, to pay attention to your commands and to obey you.
You need to train your dog to respond to your voice straight away in all situations. It not only makes your life easier but it can also stop your dog getting into difficult situations, for example with cars and other traffic, or with other animals.
Dog obedience training tips
The ultimate aim of dog obedience training is to get your dog to behave and to follow your commands. This takes time and patience to achieve, but the following dog training tips should help you.
Use one word commands
Simple one word commands such as “Sit”, “Come”, “Heel” and “Down” are easier to teach your dog. Before commanding your dog say its name first, followed by the command.
Say the commands clearly and loudly, and keep repeating them. Reward your dog with praise and treats when it obeys the command.
If your dog doesn’t obey the command, don’t call it towards you for punishment because you’ll then have trouble training it to come on command.
If your dog is misbehaving, such as jumping up at someone, don’t try and stop it by telling it “No”. Use a command such as “Sit” instead.
Consistency is key
It’s important not to allow your puppy to get away with things when young that you don’t want them to when older.
For example, if you don’t want your dog to be allowed on the furniture when it’s older then don’t let it on the furniture when it’s a puppy, no matter how tempting it may be.
You should make sure everyone in the family enforces the same rules on your dog so it doesn’t become confused. This is a key element of dog obedience training.
Dog obedience training can be a frustrating experience but it’s important not to get impatient as this will transmit itself to your dog. Dogs are very good at picking up on human emotions. If you feel yourself becoming frustrated or losing patience, stop the training and take a break for a while.
Dogs have short attention spans so it’s a good idea to keep the obedience training sessions short anyway.
Be positive and reward your dog
Your dog will learn much more quickly if you make the training a positive experience for it. Always be friendly and positive and when your dog does well, reward it with praise, petting and treats.
It’s important to realise that your dog doesn’t learn how to behave by being told off. Being corrected only tells it that it is doing something wrong. It doesn’t tell it what to do instead.
And despite what you may have read or heard, not only will using a shock collar not work but it’s actually a cruel training method. All a shock collar will teach your dog is to be afraid of you. And you won’t have a rewarding and loving relationship with your dog if it’s scared of you.
The best way to train your dog is through positive reinforcement. It’s through getting praise and treats and other positive reinforcements that your dog learns when it’s doing something right.
Speak like a dog!
We mentioned earlier that your voice is maybe the most important dog obedience training tool you possess. This is only true if you use it properly though. You must be authoritative and commanding. It’s no use telling off or correcting your dog in a deep, firm voice only to then laugh or giggle afterwards. If you do this, you will lose any authority you had.
If you’ve ever listened to a mother dog correcting one of her pups, you’ll have noticed that she does this by growling at it with a deep growl. That growl tells the puppy that they did something wrong and that they shouldn’t do it again. You can copy this mother-pup behavior by using a deep voice to make a sound like “Acckk!” when you wish to correct your dog. It doesn’t have to be that exact sound but it should be something that sounds similar and unique so that your dog can learn it only applies to it when it’s doing something wrong.
Similarly, don’t just use the word “No!” when telling off your dog. This can be confusing and you need to be more specific. Once your dog has learned that the “Acckk!” sound means it’s done something wrong, you can start to teach it simple commands. For example, “Acckk! No bark!” when you want your dog to stop barking.
It’s important not to have unrealistic expectations when you start your dog obedience training.
Your dog is likely to pick up some things relatively quickly while other things will take longer. Patience and perseverance are the keys, and you’re much more likely to remain patient if you don’t set your sights too high when starting out.
As long as you stay consistent, your dog will gradually learn to be obedient and respond to your commands almost automatically. Until then, remain realistic and enjoy the process of training your dog. Your relationship with your dog can really grow and strengthen during the training process.
There’s no need to shout or scream
There’s no need to shout or scream when training your dog. In fact, it can have the opposite of the desired effect. It’s much better to speak at your normal volume, in a calm but commanding way.
Your dog has no problem hearing you, and shouting at it can cause it to start to equate the shouting with attention. When this happens your dog will start to misbehave just to get your attention.
Instead, make sure you give your dog attention when it’s good and behaves well and do not give it attention when it’s naughty. Your dog will then soon learn to associate getting your attention with being good, and not getting your attention with being bad, and will start to behave.
Be the alpha dog pack leader!
Dogs naturally follow the pack leader and you must take on this role and act like you are the leader. If you don’t, then your dog will as it gets older. This can lead to a lot of problems, especially with small dogs who can start to show signs of small dog syndrome. It can also lead to issues with excessive barking.
Being pack leader means that your dog should earn things that it wants rather than being given them for free. For example, if your dog is demanding attention don’t give it to them until they have obeyed a command such as “Sit!” or “Lay down!” or any other obedience command.
You must also be in control at feeding times. Your dog shouldn’t eat until you’ve eaten, even if you only eat an apple or other piece of fruit. Consider making your dog work for its food by taking it for a walk before feeding it. You should also only feed your dog at set times, not when it demands food.
As leader of the pack, you should always go first. This includes through doorways and up the stairs, and in and out of the house. Don’t let your dog go before you.
When taking your dog for a walk on a leash, don’t allow it to go ahead and strain at the leash. Your dog must learn to walk beside you or behind you. If you let it get used to leading the way when on the leash, it will start to want to lead the way in other areas too.
Dog obedience training takes time and patience but the rewards are worth it in the end. You’ll have a much better and more enjoyable relationship with your dog if it’s well trained and knows how to obey your commands. Follow the dog training tips in this article and you’ll soon be well on the way to having a well-behaved and obedient dog, that you share a strong bond with.