Make Training Less Stressful and More Productive
Anyone who has ever had a dog knows the joy dogs bring into your life. They are wonderful addition to a family and will greatly enrich their loved ones lives, especially if trained well. Training not only makes day to day tasks easier but is of the utmost importance in keeping your dog safe. With some patience and some direction, every family can safely enjoy spending time with their well trained dog.
- Health and well-being
The first step in training your dog to obey commands is to make sure that your dog is healthy enough to do so. If your dog’s hearing is compromised, he or she may not actually be able to listen to you. If your dog has an ailing leg or hip, he or she may avoid sitting not to be disobedient, but because it hurts. Make an appointment with your vet for a checkup and discuss with your vet your plans to begin training your dog. He or she may be able to provide some additional tips.
Once you are ready to begin training, you will need to establish authority. Instinctually, dogs operate much like their wolf ancestors with a pack mentality and well defined leadership. It is your job as owner to be the pack leader to your dog. There is a time and a place for being your dog’s best friend- training sessions are not that time and place. Establishing authority doesn’t mean yelling at your dog or being mean. It means communicating to your dog, via vocal commands and body language, what you expect and what behavior is acceptable. Stand tall and make eye contact with your dog and command your dog clear and concise instructions spoken with confidence. Commands should be spoken only once, and then wait for a response. All these actions will communicate to your dog that you are the one in charge.
- Establishing Incentive
Much like children, dogs need a reason to obey. Just because isn’t good enough so an incentive must be offered. Food is the most obvious and effective choice for a training incentive. Find a food that is special to your pet. Don’t just use your average everyday biscuits. Your incentive treat should be a “jackpot” for your pet. Limit use of this treat to training sessions. This way your dog will learn that if he or she is obedient, they will get the special treat.
- Setting Goals
Some people will say, “My dog is just so bad! She just doesn’t listen. “The question is, listen to what? What are you asking of your dog? You can’t expect your dog to understand your vague conversational comments like, “Don’t do that, or Knock it off”. These are not actual commands and therefore your dog does not know to respond. Your commands should be specific for your behavioral goal. Examples include Sit or Stay. Be sure that the goals you have set for your dog are attainable. Expecting your dog to sit and stay while walk away is unreasonable if the dog hasn’t learned sit or stay.
Positive feedback is the best way to mold behavior. In order to make the feedback positive, you need to offer a reward. As mentioned before, rewards are often food treats. Praise from an owner is also a great reward for acceptable behavior. For example, when Rover comes when called, you should offer the food reward and praise him. Praise should be given in a more excited, upbeat tone than commands. Eventually, food rewards should be phased out but the praise component remaining will still be a reward for your dog.
When working with your dog on commands, there is no substitution for practice. Dogs are animals of habit and learn best by repetition. The more you practice commands with your dog, the more consistently he or she will obey. Aim to train your dog for at least a half an hour a day. These short sessions are beneficial to review commands with your dog more frequently and yet not work past your dog’s attention span.
Repetition and consistency go hand in hand when training. When reinforcing behaviors, be sure to maintain performance standards and only reward those behaviors that are absolutely correct. Lack of attention to behaviors and sloppy rewarding will result in a dog whose obedience is unpredictable.
Teaching news skills requires much patience on the part of the teacher. Your dog is naturally willing to please, but needs your patience while learning new commands. No lie- training will be frustrating at times. When training gets tough, take a deep breath, and continue patiently working with your dog to improve his or her skills. Much like your dog is patient with you when waiting to go out or get supper, you in return owe it to him or her to be patient while they learn to do what you want. In the end, you will be amazed how your patience will be rewarded.
Much like patience, persistence is crucial in training your dog. In the beginning your dog may not want to obey commands, or may simply not understand. You must be persistent in practicing these commands over and over until the dog does it right consistently.
As your training progresses, be sure that your commands are still challenging your dog. Dogs are working animals and need a job to do. The more you challenge your dog the more he or she will learn and the more enjoyable the activity will be for the both of you.
An obedient dog is a joy to be around. Consistently responding to commands will also keep your furry friend safe. Begin with the right mindset of patience and persistence and approach the activity with consistency and authority and you will be rewarded with a well behaved and happy dog!