Dog training is a wonderful experience and helps to strengthen the bond you have with your pet. Being able to understand and manage behaviors such as jumping up on people, barking, digging or chewing creates a better home environment and gives you additional control when you are outside with your dog. Here’s more about dog training and why you should get started with your dog:
Why Is Dog Training Important?
In addition to relationship building, better obedience and providing mental stimulation for your dog, dog training is also important to maintain their safety. Commands such as “come” for example provide a means to bring your dog out of harms way of traffic or other dogs. Dog training also provides pet parents a route for socializing with other people training their dogs too.
How to Train a Dog
Generally, all modern dog-training styles have two things in common: rewarding good behaviors and not rewarding poor or unwanted behaviors. There has been a significant movement away from discipline / punishment based training techniques in the last 5 to 10 years.
Dogs, like most domesticated animals, learn through consequence. In order for the consequence to be effective, it needs to be immediate enough that the dog can associate the consequence with the behavior. When the consequence to a dog’s action is an immediate reward, dogs work to repeat that action. This forms the basis of reward based training.
Focus on the Good
While some training methods use punishments to deter dogs from "bad behavior”, it is worth noting that this approach seldom works and is very likely to make your dog afraid of you and unwilling to learn new things. That being said, it is much wiser to focus on finding good things in your dog’s behavior and rewarding those. By rewarding good behavior and simply ignoring poor behavior, you will soon have a dog that is well trained, obedient and polite.
Although each training method is different, most of them abide by these guidelines:
- Keep training sessions short: Dogs, like people, learn best in short bursts and will stop paying attention during long, drawn-out training sessions.
- End on a good note: In order to keep training sessions fun and rewarding, be sure to always stop on a good note. This encourages positive associations and helps your dog look forward to more sessions.
- Work on one skill at a time: It is easy to overload your dog by trying to teach him several skills at once. Instead, focus on one command, like “sit” or “stay” during each session.
- Be generous with rewards: Positive reinforcement works better than punishment. Reward your dog for good behavior and you will quickly see more of it.
- Practice: Very few dogs train themselves and, as such, it is important to practice your new skills until they are nearly second nature.
While training methods are varied and can seem complicated, these guidelines can help pet parents learn about dog training and begin to teach their canine companions skills like manners, commands and tricks.
Content reviewed by a veterinarian.