Article written by Vanessa Janowski
Learning how to train a dog may sound like a single, clear-cut method. However, it is far from it. There are numerous ways to train a dog and it is key in realizing what approach works best for you and your dog. One thing that is certainly recommended is to use positive training, with the option to choose what specific training tools work best for you. Still, by maintaining a positive training session, you can have the ability to train how you want. Training is very important to have a well-mannered, smart canine. However, participating in training also keeps your dog’s mind active, which is good for their health.
Positive training and reinforcement does more good for your dog than you may realize. First and foremost, positive training makes your dog happy. Having a happy dog means a more fun experience with a dog that actually wants to learn. I strongly feel you will not successfully train a dog if they don’t want to learn and listen to you. This also means that during a positive training session, your dog will feel as if they are playing, as opposed to learning. When your dog is happy when you work with them, you are also bonding. Your dog is associating you with being ‘fun’, ‘happy’, ‘safe’, and someone that they can trust. Trust is key in letting your dog understand that you are a good person. Never, ever hit your dog! Your dog will remember the bad experience and associate it with you, losing the trust and even ability to successfully train again. Maintaining a positive training session will also help your dog stay focused on you. Lastly, make sure you stop the session on a positive note and when your dog wants more. End training when your dog successfully does a command, and before they are too tired. I recommend training sessions no more than 15 minutes at a time.
The Basics For Beginners
The first thing you want to know before training is if your dog is food or toy motivated. Some dogs prefer treats or their food for training; where as other dogs want a toy. This will greatly increase your ability to train successfully. However, some dogs are overly hyped up to a toy or treat so you have to find a good medium. My Golden puppy loves tennis balls, so I tried using a tennis ball for training. She was so hyped up for the ball that it was hard for her to stay focused on me. I switched to treats and she changed dramatically.
Training Tools to Make Your Life Easier
Once you know if your dog is food or toy motivated, you can start training. Different training tools you can use are: leashes (normal length and 15-20 ft.), a clicker (to praise immediate behavior), and most importantly, a positive attitude. I work with my dogs on leash often, especially when they are puppies. Using a leash gives you more control of where you dog is and prevents them from getting distracted and walking/running away. One piece of advice I have is do not use the retractable leashes for training. I do not use them at all, but I understand if they are used for walking purposes (in a large area away from other dogs and people). A regular length leash is perfect for teaching dogs to ‘sit’, ‘stay’, and ‘heel’, where a 15-20 ft. leash is very handy for ‘come’ and ‘stay’. You have the choice whether or not to use a leash, but it is helpful especially for dogs that are learning the basics.
Once your dog successfully does a command, praise with treats or a toy and verbal praise. Clicker training is a great tool as well, which praises exact behavior faster than you can verbally. A clicker is a small device you hold in your hand and it makes a “click” sound. You click and treat when your dog does the command correctly. My dogs also know “yes”. I say “yes” when my dogs do something that I want/ask. This is quick to say at an exact moment and can be used in place of a clicker. Lastly, keeping the training session fun and positive is the main thing to remember. It will make your dog happy and want to please you, which will make you happy that your dog wants to learn. Hopefully this guide on how to train a dog has been helpful and informative. Have fun and start training. There is no limit to what you and your dog can achieve together!
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About the Author: Vanessa Janowski
Vanessa has been around dogs most of her life and has been training for over 16 years. Her passion for dog training began when she had her first dog, a Golden Retriever. She currently has a Border Collie and two Golden Retrievers who are trained in Obedience, Tricks and Agility. Vanessa is a performer of the Rock-n-Roll K-9’s with her dogs. She also competes in CPE Agility and hopes to compete in AKC Agility in the future. As a hobby, Vanessa enjoys working with her dogs and having fun performing in Agility, as well as writing about dog-related topics that are comical and informational.