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Ways to Train Your Dog
The secret to teaching your dog (whether you're teaching them simple or complex behavior) is to follow the same process; but figuring out the best way to train your dog can be overwhelming with the many training methods available.
This post highlights the most popular techniques to train your dog. However, before we dive into those methods, let's look at how dogs learn.
How Does Your Dog Learn?
When training your dog, you should treat them like little kids.
In other words, your dog's intelligence matches that of two to three-year-old child, which reflects their ability to process information.
Like kids, dogs will understand your words as they grow and interact with you.
The number of actual words your dog can respond to depends on the breed's intelligence. Of course, your dog will respond better to your tone than your words.
According to Stanley Coren, a professor of canine psychology at the University of British Columbia, dogs' intelligence is categorized into three categories: Instinctive, Adaptive, and Working & Obedience.
- Instinctive:Refers to your dog's ability to learn the behaviors they were bred for, such as pointing, herding, etc.
- Adaptive:The ability of the dog to learn their surroundings and solve problems on their own
- Working and obedience:This refers to your dog's ability to learn from humans.
The intelligence of dogs differs depending on various factors, including the dog's breed. You should consider this when focusing your training on specific dog behaviors.
The Basics of Dog Training
The first step to training your dog is to decide which behavior you want to teach.
This step is vital. After all, it's only when you as the pet parent know what you want that your dog can figure out what you're teaching them.
Most pet parents make the mistake of focusing on what they don't want their dog to do, for example, "I don't want my dog to bark" or "my dog should stop jumping on people."
Instead, teach your dog a behavior that contradicts the unwanted behavior.
For example, training your dog to walk at your pace when on a leash will make your dog stop pulling on the leash.
Also, teaching your dog to sit when greeting people will make them stop jumping on people.
As you can see in the examples above, providing your dog with clear criteria for behavior change will help them to stop engaging in unpleasant behaviors.
Important things to teach your dog include:
- Sit– teach your dog to sit
- Down– teach your dog to lay down
- Stay– teach your dog to stay in place
- Come– teach your dog to come when called
- Leave it– teach your dog to not touch something
- Drop it– teach your dog to let go of something they have picked up
Ways to Train Your Dog
Having looked at the dog training basics, let's now look at the popular dog training methods and how you and your pet can benefit from them.
Positive Reinforcement Dog Training
The idea of rewarding good behaviors is not reserved for humans alone. Pets, too, need a reward when they behave well to encourage them to repeat good behavior more often.
Positive reinforcement is a popular dog training technique that dog parents and trainers use worldwide.
This dog training method is based on the fact that dogs will repeat a desirable behavior if they get a reward. The reverse is also true—your dog will not be rewarded if they act up.
In fact, when your dog misbehaves, you correct them by withholding the reward, which is more effective than physical punishments or shouting at your dog.
Examples of rewards to give your dog include treat foods, toys, favorite games, praises, and petting. When using food treats, choose ones that are nutritious and enticing to your pet.
Here are our recommended food treats you can use for positive reinforcement:
- Healthy Rewards Canine Low Fat Treats
- Canine Trick Treats
- Hill's Natural Jerky Strips
- Stewart Pro-Treat Freeze Dried Treats
- Yummy Combs
No matter the food treat you choose, give your dog a small piece—something they can eat quickly. Also, ensure the food reward is followed with verbal praise, so your dog can figure out that it's a reward for good behavior.
Clicker Dog Training
Clicker training is reward-based training with an added advantage of a clicker. A clicker is a device that makes mechanical noise or clicks.
Clicker dog training applies the same principles as positive reinforcement—rewarded behaviors are more likely to be repeated in the future.
So, when using this technique, you need to focus on your dog's good behavior and reward it instead of concentrating only on what they do wrong.
The best thing about this dog training technique is that the clicker helps signal the exact moment your dog accomplishes good behavior and the reward they get.
The first step to using this technique is to let your dog know that a reward is coming. Anytime you click, give your dog a treat so they can see it as a reward.
Don’t click just to get your dog's attention. Only click when your dog has done something that deserves a reward.
For example, if you want to lure your dog to sit down, tell your pup to "sit." Once your dog sits, click and reward.
Clicker training is an effective way to train new behavior in dogs. You can use it alongside other training methods to curb unwanted behaviors in your dog.
This type of dog training focuses on having a personalized relationship with your dog.
In other words, relationship-based dog training is based on the fact that everything thrives when the relationship between two parties is good.
Relationship-based training encompasses several different training methods and aims to create a stronger bond between you and your dog.
As a pet parent, you need to understand your dog's body language and what rewards can motivate your dog.
It’s also important to make sure your dog's basic needs are met before you begin training them.
The best approach is to teach your dog in a quiet place instead of a place with many distractions from other pets and kids.
If your dog does something wrong, try to figure out why instead of resorting to punishment.
This helps create a strong bond between you and your dog, which is key for effective dog training.
Helpful Tips to Train Your Dog
While rewarding your dog for good behavior may seem simple, you need to follow these guidelines to be effective:
Use the Right Reward
Unless your dog is food-motivated, he may not positively respond to just any food reward. In such a case, try choosing soft, chewy treats like TRP TriCOX Soft Chews for Dogs to motivate your pup.
However, food isn’t the only thing you should use as a reward. Try experimenting with other treats such as toys, petting, fun games, etc.
Timing is everything when using the positive reinforcement training technique. Ideally, reward your dog within seconds of behaving well to ensure they associate the reward with good behavior.
Keep it Short
Just as a 2-year-old responds better to simple and clear requests, your dog will respond better to fewer words. In short, don’t use lengthy sentences when training your dog.
For example, instead of using a long sentence telling your dog to sit down, use body language and the words "sit" or "down" to encourage your dog to sit down.
When your dog sits down, you can bring the reward close to the ground to then lure them into a down position.
Everyone in the family should use the same cues during training to avoid confusing your dog. Prepare a list of cues and pin them in a unique place for everyone to familiarize themselves.
Break Down Behavior Training
You should start small when training your dog on behavior changes or complex behaviors.
For example, when training your dog to "stay," you should reward them when they take the slightest step towards accomplishing that task.
Don’t start with the expectation that they will stay put while you walk a great distance away, but rather reward them when you’ve taken just a step or two away.
Praise Your Dog for Small Things
It's easy to get so caught up in the final goal that you forget to recognize minor improvements along the way. Praise the baby steps that your dog makes towards the end goal to keep them motivated.
Show More than You Tell
Your dog will understand your hand signals more than verbal communication. The best approach is to use your hands to show the action you want them to accomplish, accompanied by a verbal command.
Make it Fun
Training should not feel like work to you and your pet. Make things interesting by incorporating short play sessions in between training.
Also, respond positively when your dog performs a desirable task to keep your dog enthusiastic.