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Dog Training Basics

A dog that has the benefit of fundamental obedience training will be a happier, healthier pet. All dog owners want their experience with their pet to be enjoyable and as stress free as possible. Obedience training will ensure a well-behaved, good natured dog that will be a welcome addition to your family. Even the smallest toy breeds are better companions when they’ve been properly trained. Training will also provide an important way for you and your dog to bond.

There are several ways to train your dog. You can do it yourself, attend dog training classes or send your dog to obedience school. Unless you have had experience training dogs, a dog training class with a qualified instructor is probably the best way to effectively train your dog while giving you an opportunity to enjoy the experience at the same time.

If you don’t have time to take the dog to class yourself, it’s better to send your dog to an obedience school than to ignore the issue all together. The teacher will teach you how to handle the dog once the dog has learned his lessons.

In either case, you will have to do your homework in order to find an instructor that actually likes dogs as well as people and who will teach in a non-aggressive manner. As a minimum, you will want your dog to learn to distinguish between the commands of "come," "lie down," "sit," "stay" and "no." He should also learn how to walk by your side without pulling on the dog leash, to behave properly indoors and to be quiet and well mannered in the car.

Some training will need to begin from the moment you bring your puppy home. Housebreaking a puppy is probably on the top of everyone’s list.

Regardless of the manner in which you choose to train your dog, the following are some basic fundamentals that will make schooling easier and more enjoyable for both of you:

Bridge the time gap between an action taken by your dog and your responding praise. Verbal praise can be very slow. If your praise is lengthy or late, your dog will associate praise with the wrong behavior. If praise is timely, the dog will understand which behavior earned your praise.

Some trainers recommend using a dog clicker (like a children’s tin cricket clicker) or a dog whistle to praise a dog because it bridges the action/praise time gap. To teach your dog to respond to a clicker, give your pet a dog treat while making the noise. After exposure to a series of simultaneous clicks and treats, your dog will start to realize that the clicker means a reward is on the way.

Correction for bad behavior works in the same manner. A long tirade delivered after the negative action has already occurred is not going to be associated with the act you are trying to prevent. The word "No!" is all that is necessary and should be the first command your puppy learns. Be firm, brief and above all else, timely. Don’t get angry with your dog and never hit your dog. The maximum physical punishment should be a light shake on the scruff of the neck.

Another important axiom of dog training is to never repeat commands. This is one of the most common training errors. The tendency to repeat commands is usually done subconsciously. The first time you say "sit" should be the last time you say "sit." To ensure that your training is effective, make the first command the only command.

Training and learning should be ongoing projects. If you ignore your dog’s mental health, behavior problems usually always follow. You can avoid future problems by educating and socializing your puppy. If your pup is too young for obedience classes, look into kindergarten puppy classes that help your puppy learn important socialization skills.

If you need help finding an obedience program for your puppy or dog, ask your veterinarian for advice. Observe a class. New methods of training emphasize the need for positive reinforcement. Once you and your pup start your educational program, be aware that you will have to practice at home and that consistency will be a key factor in helping your dog to learn quickly. A healthy dog needs more than just physical exercise -- you have to exercise their brains as well.

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