Helpful Training Tips
Always pick a dog that matches your lifestyle. Many people choose dogs that are cute or funny or purchase them on a whim. But that is not a good way to choose a pet. A dog, depending on the breed, can be a 15 year relationship. You want to be sure that the temperament of your dog matches your lifestyle. So do your research and be honest about what kind of activity level you have in your life. Don’t get a dog that needs a lot of activity because you need a reason to take a walk and lose some weight. You and the dog will end up frustrated.
Always try to devote 10-15 minutes every day to training. This is all it takes to train a dog. Any longer and your dog will become tired and resentful. Any less and they will not retain the information as well. You need to have a light balance when it comes to dog obedience training.
There can only be one trainer. Dogs are pack animals and take direction only from the pack leader. A pack animals only have one leader. Determine who will be responsible for the dogs training and do not let anyone else teach the dog anything new until they have mastered the basics.
Name your dog with a practical name. The experts say that a dog’s name should end in a vowel because it is easier for them to understand. Don’t make it too fancy or long or the dog might not know you are talking to it. Short and sweet is always the way. Use the dog’s name often when you are patting it and when you are feeding it. Do not use it as part of teaching them a new command or they may associate their name with that command instead. Only use their name when attention is required. Train them to look at your face by saying their name and gently turning their face up toward yours. Ey contact is important. When you are training it is important that they have all their attention on you. Calling their name should mean “look at the pack leader”.
Once you have established your expectations with the dog, they need to be reinforced by everyone consistently but again, no one except the “pack leader” should ever train the dog.
Your first training should be learning to sleep in a crate You may think it’s cruel but in fact, dogs are den animals. They actually enjoy sleeping in a crate. When they are puppies, keep the crate very small so they cannot relieve themselves in it (animals generally will not relieve themselves where they sleep or eat). As they become housebroken, get them a crate that is comfortable and place it somewhere near where the family is. Keep the crate wherever the designated “pack leader” sleeps. Forcing a dog to sleep away from his “pack” confuses him and makes him think he has done something wrong. Do not let the dog sleep in the bed with you until you have fully trained them to sleep in a crate. Breaking a dog of sleeping on the bed, once they are in that habit is almost impossible. Train your dog to use the crate by putting them in there for a few minutes at a time several times during the day, gradually increasing the time they spend in there until they are assured that you are eventually going to come and let them out.
Second lesson should be how to walk on a lead/leash This is important,especially if you do not have an enclosed yard. Your dog should understand that when they go outside, they are expected to behave while on the leash. There are many books and videos on training dogs to help you learn how to do this.
The third training lesson should be “whoa” or “stop” or whatever you want to use as a command for your dog to stop moving. This command is VERY important as it could save your dog’s life. Do not rely on calling their name as a command to get them to stop. There may be times when you do not want them to come to you but instead stay right where they are. If you call their name, they may think you want them to come. Some sort of stopping command should be taught even before “come”. There are many videos and books that can help you with this training.
Keep in mind that all dogs have different temperaments Just like kids, different breeds learn differently and at different rates. Some dogs are stubborn and will challenge you at every turn. Others will just about bend over backwards to please you. You may need to adjust your training techniques to meet the need of your dogs temperament. This is another good reason why you should research a breed before you purchase or adopt a dog to be sure you can handle them.
Always reward success and good behavior with praise I don’t recommend using “treats” as a reward for training as it teaches them to work for the treat, not for your praise. If no treat is offered when they perform, they will become confused but praise can always be given.
Determine a “release” command for ending training When you are done training (and ended on a positive note) give your dog a command that signals you are finished. But make sure it’s not a common word. We made the mistake of using “okay” as a release command with our first dog and every time someone said it, she thought it was time to have fun and got all wound up!. Use a command like “Playtime” or “Recess” to let your dog know that the training part of the day is over and now they can just enjoy your company.
Always end your daily training sessions on a positive note If you have been trying to teach them something new and they are just not getting it, review something that they already do well and then praise them for that and end the session. Your dog will look forward to the training sessions if you always end positively, regardless of the success of that lesson. Once the training is over, then it would be okay to give them “treats” or “cookies” as long as it’s not as a reward for an accomplishment. If the dog barks at you, then turn around, ignore it for 30 secs and when it stops, reward it. If a dog jumps on you and does not stop after you say stop, turn and say no in a firm tone. Remember! Do not yell at a dog, it will not understand you and will continue to do the action, leading you to frustration.