Learning how to train dogs properly is important if you want yours to be obedient and fun to be around. Dogs are simple, loving creatures that want to please their owners. In order for them to fulfill that desire, they need to have the proper tools and education. When dogs do not receive training, they are never sure exactly what it is that you want them to do or not do. Dogs with alpha tendencies may even try to take on the alpha role in the absence of a clear leader.
Unless you have previous experiencing handling and training dogs, it is best to enroll your dog in private or group obedience classes. This is a good way for both you and your dog to learn the basics, and you can continue to work together between classes. If classes are not available in your area or if they are simply not affordable, you can still train your dog in the comfort of your own home.
Use Positive Reinforcement
Any professional trainer will tell you that positive reinforcement is the only technique that will work on your dog which is why it is a key method taught when learning how to train dogs. You should praise Fido when he does as asked, and avoid the temptation to scold when he does not. Dogs are naturally smart animals, and yours will learn very quickly that doing what is asked means rewards and good energy, while ignoring your requests won’t get him anywhere. The trick here is to find what truly motivates your dog to get the most of the training. Some dogs respond best to food rewards while others are more motivated by a ball or toys.
Consider adding a clicker or other sound into the mix when your dog is in training. Many professional dog trainers use small clickers combined with a treat reward when a dog performs as asked. Your dog will soon associate both the sound and the treat reward with specific commands and actions, allowing you to eventually eliminate the treats.
Nothing in Life is Free
There’s something that people learning how to train dogs discover early on and that is known as NILIF in dog circles, the theory that “nothing in life is free” should be at the core of your dog training. This means that your dog does not eat, get up on the couch or bed or go outside unless he has earned it. This can be as simple as putting your dog into a stay after putting his food bowl down or making him shake to earn his meal. As soon as your dog completely understands that you are the center of his universe, training will become that much easier.
Redirect and Refocus
We are not perfect and neither are our dogs. There will be times during your dog’s training when he gets distracted and begins to focus on everything but you. It is your job to quickly redirect his attention and bring it back to the job at hand. Avoid the temptation to tug on the leash or touch your dog’s flank. Instead, call his name and put his favorite motivator in front of his face. When he notices the reward, quickly draw it up to your face until your dog is once again looking at you. Don’t worry if this happens frequently when you start the training. If you are doing everything else right, it will diminish over time.
It Takes a Village to Train a Dog
The most important aspect of proper dog training is consistency, and that means involving your family as well as guests in your home. Make sure that everyone that is involved with your dog knows the basic rules, and make sure that they stick to them. This not only ensures that your dog gets a consistent message, but he will be more willing to obey commands from everyone instead of just you.
The last thing you need to remember when learning how to train dogs is that you must practice, practice, practice, and always start the training as early as possible. Although it is best to train your dog when it is still a puppy, even old dogs can learn new tricks.