You have brought home your new family member, a beloved pet dog. Regardless of what age it is, you will now have the responsibility of training him (or her) to ensure he fit’s into your family and routine properly. But where to start? Follow our guide to top 10 tips to training your dog to firmly get you on your way.
Before you decide to take your dog outside into public areas, start training your dog within your home or garden first. Covering the basic commands such as sit, stay and to come when called will make it far easier once you get out into public with him, and far safer for your dog.
- Short and Sweet
Dog’s (especially puppies) can have a really short attention span. If your training times go on too long, your dog will easily get bored, leading to misbehaviour and frustration. Keep training lessons under 15 minutes at a time to ensure your dog is learning at his maximum potential. Little and often is the key!
- Be patient
Some dog’s are known to learn faster than others. If your dog is an older dog, he may have pre-learned bad habits or behaviours that you are trying to undo and stamp out. Be patient at all times with him. If you show displeasure or frustration towards him when teaching him, it is likely to take you far longer to train him than you anticipated. Let him learn at his own pace and don’t rush him, to ensure your lesson sticks and he understands that for him, you have all the time in the world. Patience will pay off greatly in the end.
- One at a time
There will be may things you will want your new dog to learn. All the basic commands of course, but generally learning how to adapt to day-to-day living in his new home will all be a lesson to him too. Remember, only teach him one lesson or command at a time so as not to overload him. Master one command fully before moving onto the next one. Your dog is learning all the time from you, not just during his teaching sessions, and he could easily get distracted and forgetful if you try to teach him several commands at once.
- Reward and praise
At every step of the teaching process, heap lots of rewards and praise on your dog to let him know is doing the right thing. Do not punish him if it takes him longer to learn your commands than you anticipated. Remember – patience! If he performs the command correctly, give him lots of treats and praise him, telling him what a good boy he is and heap lots of love on him. Some trainers use pieces of sausage, or broken up small dog biscuits to give to their dog each time he does something right. If he gets it wrong, ignore and try again. Never punish him for not performing the command correctly. He is still a learner! Also see: 4 Tips for Training Your Dog With Rewards.
- Be consistent
The chances are that you are not the only one in your family wishing to help out with the training of the dog. It is a great “getting to know you” time for both of you, and other people in your family may want to be part of that too. There is no need to keep training to just one person providing that everyone is consistent with the methods and key words. Be sure that everyone that is training your dog uses the exact same command words and behaviour including praising and treats, to ensure a fast and easy learning process for your dog.
- Training classes
If you are really struggling with your training, do not give up. A good option for you may be professional dog training classes. These are an excellent resource to collect and learn valuable information when it comes to teaching our dogs basic commands. Not only will you pick up tips and ideas from other dog owners, you will also be socialising your dog with the public and other dogs in a safe manner, giving your dog many lessons in one! You can of course go onto higher level training courses, including agility if you choose. A great and fun way to train your dog and turn him into your perfect pet pooch.
A guaranteed way of putting your dog off his learning lessons, is to teach him when there are many distractions around. For him to learn quickly and truly, you need his full attention. Check your surroundings whilst teaching him to be sure there is nothing going on around you that will take his attention away from you during lesson.
- No chasing
One of the most important lessons we will teach our dog is the “come” command. This is one you must master as soon as possible. Learning this command, will ensure you have ability to recall the dog should it be necessary when you are out and about with him which could help to save him from all kinds of difficulties or problems. And no matter what you do; NEVER chase him! To a dog, being chased is a game. Unless that is what you are aiming for, never chase your dog when trying to recall him, or without a doubt, you and he will look like a game of cat and mouse and he will almost certainly believe that your recall command means play time!
- Big finish
Once you have finished your training session with your dog, be sure to offer him a nice big long lasting treat. This will really make him feel that he has been a very good boy, and he will be far more looking forward to his next lesson! Praise and patience with love and treats is all that is truly needed to successfully train your dog. And a well behaved trained dog, is most certainly a far happier dog!