Training Your Dog the Right Way
Whether your dog is just a puppy or well into adulthood, there are many things you, as a pet owner, need to be aware of. Training your dog is an important step in starting off on the right foot and teaching him obedience. All dogs – no matter how old – need some form of training so that they can be easily handled in all situations. A wise investment in your new best friend would be basic training or obedience classes that will help you to build a bond and learn to control your dog. TV shows, dog books, and articles abound on dog training, but tips that are truly effective are harder to come by if you don't do the necessary research.
There are many reasons for training your dog. Training allows the dog to understand your expectations; helps him become calmer and more relaxed in all situations, in new places, and with new people; provides him with much-needed structure; makes him easier to manage and perhaps most importantly, helps keep him out of a shelter. Unfortunately, the biggest reason that dogs are in or are returned to shelters is due to their lack of training and out-of-control behavior.
Dog Training Tips: The Necessary Commands
Because dogs thrive in packs and are naturally social, once they come to your home, they expect you to be the leader. Training your dog appropriately with a few highly effective dog training tips teaches him to follow you, understand your necessary commands, and learn to accept his place in your "pack." To avoid problems later in life, it's recommended that you enroll your pet in obedience and/or training classes early on, or at the very least, begin training your dog yourself, rewarding him each time he learns a new command. The following dog training tips are some of the more vital guidelines in ensuring your pet will be a well-behaved, functioning member of your family. If you have the patience and the time, here are some ways to begin training your dog at home.
- Always enforce your commands – Don't let your dog ignore a command, and most certainly reward him when he does follow it. If your dog does not follow a command immediately, help him perform it, then reward him. Above all, however, do not call your dog to you and do anything negative to him when he comes. If he disobeys and you react with anger, your dog will learn to fear you and may not listen to you in the future. Attempting to integrate any other dog training tips after that may be futile.
- Reward your dog immediately when he listens -- Positive encouragement in the form of dog treats or praise is always welcome and helps the dog learn that he is doing well at responding to what you say. During training, have treats in hand and deliver them quickly when the dog performs correctly. Don't punish your dog or 'rub his nose in it' should he have an accident. When training your dog, these tips will help you avoid discouraging or even confusing your pet.
- Master one command at a time – Go slowly, and over time, your dog will learn the command. Don't overload multiple commands into one training session, as this approach likely will result in failure. Most experts recommend 5-10 minutes at the most for one session. You'll need to be patient during the process of training your dog. Chances are that your dog won't respond to every command or even learn them in just a few weeks. It will take time.
- "Sit," "Come," "Stay," and "Lie Down" – These are perhaps the four most important commands your dog needs to know, and all helpful dog training tips from books or your vet should cover these comprehensively. Once your dog masters them successfully, you will be able to manage him in all situations and control his behavior around other people and animals. For dogs that may like to run free, "come" is a necessary command should he manage to wriggle out of his dog collar and/or leash.
- Maintain solidarity with training – in family situations, make sure that everyone follows the rules with training your dog. If you're the only one using commands and the rest of the family is ignoring certain behaviors that the dog exhibits and not re-enforcing the dog training tips you've been using thus far, then your one-on-one training sessions will largely be forgotten. Re-enforce commands each day as repetition is key.
- Keep it fun – this is a time to grow and bond with your pet; make training your dog fun for both of you. Once he masters the basics of these dog training tips, move on to the fun tricks, like "roll over," "shake," and "play dead." Your dog will begin to look to you because you'll have made your role clear.
Assume the Role: You are the Pack Leader
It is your responsibility to be aware and responsible for your pet – your dog relies on you to take care of him at all times. Providing him with a healthy diet, plenty of exercise, and one-on-one training will ensure that he has a long, healthy, and happy life with you. Don't leave his behavior up to chance – you can ensure that your new best friend is obedient and happy just by integrating some of these simple dog training tips into his routine. Assume control as leader of your pack and your dog will look to you in all situations that may arise.
You are the best person when it comes to training your dog – he trusts you, after all. More importantly, training your dog will keep him safe and protected, which is something all dog owners should want.
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About the Author
Mailey E. McLaughlin, M.Ed, is the Training and Behavior Coordinator at the Atlanta Humane Society. A Certified Dog Trainer, Mailey has been training professionally for over eight years. She teaches all the AHS dog obedience classes, which include Basic and Intermediate levels, and runs the free pet behavior hotline. She also does one-on-one training for owners and dogs and works with the shelter volunteers to instill manners in the dogs awaiting adoption. She is a member of numerous canine professional organizations, including the International Association of Canine Professionals (IACP) and the Association of Pet Dog Trainers (APDT). Mailey also teaches Pet First Aid and CPR courses. To learn more about the AHS or to contribute to the online pet donations fund, please visit www.atlantahumane.org