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How to train a dog

20 Sep, 2022
Dogs
Dog training tips to help them learn

Beginning the training journey with your dog can be an exciting time – but where do you start? There’s lots of information online, and many experts you can lean on. Figuring out how to train a dog the right way is not always clear-cut, and it's best to place your trust in qualified experts and sources.

In this article, we provide both an overview and tips on training a dog.

Dog training techniques and methods

There are lots of dog training techniques and methods to choose from, and what you learn depends on the training school you choose or a trainer’s methodology. You might hear techniques and terms like positive reinforcement, clicker training, model versus mirror, dominance, or alpha training, and more.

Reward-based training

At its core, reward-based training is all about ‘rewarding’ a dog for undertaking a particular behaviour or action, so they can associate a reward to an action. Not only is it reinforcing desired behaviour, but your dog will enjoy the training and it will enhance the relationship with your dog.

Firstly, weigh out your dog’s usual daily kibble amount in the morning and place it in treat bags.

Reward your dog with some kibble anytime they behave positively throughout the day.

  • When they sit instead of jumping up on a visitor or family member
  • When they wait patiently at the door to come inside
  • When they sit on their mat without being told

On their walk, reward them with some more kibble when they:

  • Display great ‘loose leash’ walking (i.e. Not pulling)
  • Sit at a corner and wait to cross the road
  • Show good social skills when you encounter another dog or person

If you’re going out for the day and need to leave your dog at home, use the kibble to keep your dog busy. Spread it throughout your backyard, in every area your dog is allowed to access.

Your dog will spend a few hours sniffing out their kibble instead of digging holes, barking, and engaging in other destructive behaviours.

Tip: Master your dog’s understanding

Establishing communication between you and your dog is crucial to successful training. Marker words are a tool to ensure all communication is clear and concise.

Make sure you establish a marker word as early as possible, as this will be present throughout all your future training exercises.

Tip: Shorter, sharper sessions make for better results

Most dog trainers will agree; short and sharp training sessions are better than long ones filled with emotion or mistakes. Training a dog doesn’t happen overnight, and learning is not always a smooth process, so it’s essential every training session is enjoyable and manageable for your dog.

Try and stick to short sessions. Even a couple of ten-minute blocks throughout the day is an excellent way to make sure your dog is engaged the entire time. It’s also important for pet parents to stay sharp and patient – you don’t want your dog associating any negative emotions with training. So, no anger or frustration – this can be harmful to the learning process.

Tip: Mix up your locations to open your dog’s world

If you want your dog to follow your lead in all situations, you should expose them to all conditions. To put it simply, training them outside is just as important as training them in low-distraction environments. While you should always master the fundamentals in fully-controlled spaces, whether at home or a training school, you must transition and switch up your training locations to challenge your dog’s focus.

Many people believe their dog is trained and listens in ‘most’ settings or situations, and if you want to improve ‘most’ to ‘all’, it takes practice and patience.

It’s important to remember that a dog’s behaviour isn’t ever one hundred per cent guaranteed so, as an owner, you should always control your setting and surroundings when training.

You know your dog best, including their thresholds – consider this when introducing new things into your training routine.

Tip: Deliver enrichment to avoid destruction

This is a very specific one, related to training your dog to cope with alone time and prevent destruction of your home. It’s also helpful to know when combating existing issues like separation anxiety, which is very common.

It’s simple and effective; always give your dog a job to do while you’re away i.e. provide enrichment. If your dog barks when you’re not at home, digs holes or destroys everything in sight, they’re letting you know that they’re bored from lack of stimulation – or it can be a sign of anxiety. You can’t expect a dog to be perfectly happy without their pack and with nothing to do, so it does mean a little extra effort to make the alone time more enjoyable.

Although destructive behaviours are very common, they can be fixed!
  • Mentally and physically stimulate your dog before they are left out in the yard for the day. Before you go to work, go for a walk, or do some formal training. Waking up and putting your dog straight outside can be a recipe for disaster.
  • Provide your dog a job to do while you are away. If you don’t, they’ll find their own like barking, digging, and destroying things. Get half of your dog’s daily kibble amount and spread it throughout your backyard. Your dog will spend a few hours sniffing out their kibble, getting great mental stimulation and physical exercise!
  • Get a few Kong toys and stuff them full of tasty treats. Consider getting a pet pool to fill with sand and bury your dog’s toys in. Freeze your Kong and treats in a container of water to add an extra challenge and help cool your dog on a hot day!

Article supplied by PETstock

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