12 Oct Simple Guide to Dog Training: When and How to Start Training Your Dog?
Are you ready to train your dog or puppy? If you wish to avoid shoe chewing, barking, and other bad manners of your furry one and build a good relationship with your dog, it’s important to start with the training as soon as possible.
First of all, no matter the dog’s age, they are always eager to learn something new. It’s never too early or late to guide and help your four-legged friend understand valuable lessons. In fact, each interaction with your dog is an opportunity to teach them basic commands.
The training process could be quite overwhelming, but if you take it step by step, you will see that it’s not that scary and impossible after all. So let’s take look at dog training basics and ways to get started.
Why Your Dog Needs to Train
Proper training is a dog’s basic need, just like the right nutrition and a good night’s sleep. Dogs bloom on structure and discipline, hence, the training improves the dog’s quality of life. Although dog training is essential for preventing the development of inappropriate behaviour, it’s also intended for:
- Bonding – Working with your dog on basic training exercises will tighten the bond the two of you share.
- Long-term skills – Not only will your little one acquire long-term skills, but you will develop a common language of mutual understanding.
- Mental workout – Apart from their daily physical exercise, dogs need to train their brain as well.
- Peace – Once trained, you will not have to worry about your dog running away. In addition, basic training can tire out even the most active pups, so you can count on their good manners when you need a timeout.
When is the Right Time to Start?
If you have a puppy, then it’s best to postpone the training until your friend receives all of their scheduled vaccinations. According to the American Veterinary Society of Animal Behaviour, puppies can start with socialisation classes at seven or eight weeks of age.
But the training program has to be up-to-date on vaccines and the pup should have received at least one set of vaccines a week before the training session.
Popular Training Methods
The times have changed, but one thing remains the same – if you want to provide effective training, use a positive reinforcement approach. This type of training focuses on rewarding positive behaviour with treats. Naturally, if the dog’s behaviour is undesired, you simply remove the reward.
One of the most popular positive reinforcement methods applied today is clicker training. The clicker is a small device that allows you to make a noise and if the dog’s actions are desirable. If the dog has performed correctly, you will sound the clicker and give them food as a reward for good behaviour.
Furthermore, clicker training can be used for basic commands such as “sit”, “come”, and “down” to more advanced behavioural training.
Patience & Praise
If you want anything to be successful, you need to arm yourself with peace and patience. You might not see what are you doing wrong, but keep in mind that negative attention is still attention.
For example, one of the common mistakes dog owners make is the urge to punish their pets when they find them chewing their shoes. Whereas the proper reaction would be to resist the need to address this issue, take the shoe away, and redirect their attention on the chewing toys.
Every time a dog engages in a certain type of behaviour, especially those that will pay off in a reward, it becomes a habit. It takes time to break established habits, but everything is possible if you remain calm and praise good habits with a delicious treat.
Training should be a pleasurable experience for both you and your dog. That being said, if you begin to feel frustrated maybe it’s time to hire an expert. Having nervous energy during training sessions would help neither you nor your pet, but if you are keen on doing it yourself, then here are some training tips to ease the process:
- Start your lessons in a quiet environment without distractions.
- Be patient and don’t expect your dog to immediately learn new tricks.
- Break training into short but regular training sessions to avoid exhausting your dog.
- End the sessions with something your dog is already familiar with.
- Give treats as positive reinforcement.
Remember, an old dog can learn new tricks just the same as a puppy. Then again, if you are dealing with behavioural issues like excessive barking, phobias, and aggression, it might be better to consider hiring a qualified behaviourist. Still, you can always teach your pet the basics and not have to worry about obedience and manners when leaving them in a pet sitter’s care.