Dog Training: Everything You Need to Know

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Once your puppy reaches a certain age, it’s time to teach them some useful commands! Now, training a dog to follow commands and perform tricks may seem like more work than anything else, but every canine benefits from it. And if you want to start the year off on the right foot, training your puppy […]

Once your puppy reaches a certain age, it’s time to teach them some useful commands! Now, training a dog to follow commands and perform tricks may seem like more work than anything else, but every canine benefits from it. And if you want to start the year off on the right foot, training your puppy is a great way to go! On this blog, we will delve into the essentials of dog training, including why it’s important, do’s and don’ts, and the best commands you can teach them.

Why is it important to train your dog?

Training your dog comes with countless amount of benefits for your dog and you! Unfortunately, we can’t talk to our dogs the same way we talk to other people so it’s crucial to have a way to communicate with your cuddly friend in an efficient manner. Training your dog to follow commands gives you that advantage.

When you train your dog (especially during puppyhood), you can prevent several habits—like chewing and excessive barking—from developing into unwanted behavior. Your pooch will have a better understanding of the rules of your house and what behaviors are expected from them. If your dog has a haughty or sassy personality, training can stop them from trying to overstep their boundaries like bossing others around the house.

Proper training also gives you the opportunity to bond with your furry friend, leading to a long friendship built on mutual respect!

What’s the difference between positive and negative reinforcement?

When your fur-baby sits on command and you reward this behavior with a treat, you are training your pooch with positive reinforcement. This increases the probability of your dog sitting on command again. 

In dog training, there are two types of reinforcement you should know about:

  • Positive reinforcement: a positive consequence (like treats or praises) for performing a desired behavior.
  • Negative reinforcement: a negative consequence (like taking something away) to encourage acceptable behavior.

Positive reinforcement is often recommended by dog trainers because it motivates your dog to perform the desired commands or tricks. A yummy treat, chewy toy, or even affection from you is enough to make your dog perform any trick you want.

Negative reinforcement, on the other hand, involves the removal of two types of stimuli: aversive and positive. Removal of aversive stimuli can include removing something unpleasant like “time out” from your puppy’s environment. With the removal of positive stimuli, you can take away a puppy’s favorite object or refrain from giving them affection when they behave badly. 

Negative reinforcement can be an effective training method and may be combined with positive reinforcement. Always avoid scolding or hitting your dog as this will cause them to fear or resent you—far from the goal of dog training.

What are some do’s and don’ts of dog training?

There are various do’s and don’ts when it comes to dog training. Knowing these tips can come in handy as you teach your dog the rules of the world. Here are a few things you should do while you train your dog:

  • Understand that your dog has natural instincts. Sometimes, they may grow bored or even try to upstage you during a lesson. Switch up a lesson to make it more interesting to them.
  • All dog breeds are lovable but they aren’t capable of understanding our sense of humor. Don’t try to fool or tease your furry friend during training. You will end up confusing them.
  • Always be consistent. Reward your dog only when they’ve completed a task or behavior.
  • Patience and timing are key components of dog training. Training may take days, weeks, or even months. 
  • Take your dog outside once they’ve learned the command inside the house. From a dark park to a busy street, there are many areas to practice training. Just make sure to have a leash ready.
  • Teach your dog one command at a time. Don’t mix it up because it can confuse them.

Along with the do’s of dog training, there are several don’ts that you should always make sure to avoid such as:

  • Never use your dog’s name to scold or yell at them. This will only cause them to associate their name with negative responses.
  • Avoid giving your dog treats or rewards before they complete their task. 
  • We know it’s hard but you should refrain from kissing or giving treats to your furbaby after they’ve misbehaved.
  • When you repeat a command, make sure your pooch is paying attention. Do not let them ignore it.
  • Most importantly, never hit or scold your dog. 

What commands or tricks should you teach your dog?

Sit, roll over, stay—it’s hard to decide what tricks and commands to teach your dog. Whether you’re a seasoned or novice dog owner, you should always opt for the 5 basic commands. These commands come in handy when you’re walking with your puppy at a dog park or at home:

  • Sit: You can teach your puppy to sit by holding a treat in front of their face. Hold it to their nose and above their head. Wait until they sit, then give them the treat. You can stand sideways or backwards so that they stand up. If they sit again, give them a treat. Repeat this a few times, saying “sit” when they perform the action.
  • Stay: To teach this command, you will need to teach your dog the release word. You can do this by providing your puppy a treat while saying “ok” or “free”. Repeat this command a few times. Then have your puppy in a sitting position and give them a treat for sitting, then release them. You should gradually increase the distance, saying “stay”.
  • Lay down: Teaching your dog to “lay down” involves similar training tactics as “sitting.” First, wait for your pooch to lie down and give them a treat. Wait for them to lie down again to reinforce the behavior, giving them a treat and saying “down.”
  • Come: Bring your puppy to a quiet area inside your home. Say their name along with the word “come” and give them a treat. Then, drop a treat in front of them. When they finish eating it, call their name and provide them a treat if they look up. Each time you repeat this command, make sure to toss the treats further away from you. As they come back after the command, praise and reward them.
  • Heel: A dog that heels walks calmly by your side without pulling on their leash. Choose a cue word like “heel” or “let’s go.” You should also decide whether you want your dog to walk on your left or right side. When you’re out for a walk, give your pooch treats while they stand or sit next to you. As you walk, be sure to give your furry friend treats while they walk beside you. If they walk ahead, just turn the opposite direction and reward them as they walk by your side again.

Remember to keep training sessions short and fun. Training should never feel like a chore. And if you feel like your puppy isn’t cooperating, take a break and try again later. You can also opt for obedience classes or private lessons with a licensed dog trainer for a detailed approach to training. Just get on with training and we’re certain your puppy will learn what it takes to be a good boy or girl. We hope that National Train Your Dog Month brings you and your cuddly pooch closer together!