DOG TRAINING: HOW TO TRAIN YOUR DOG
Dogs are intelligent, loyal animals who are generally easy to train. Dog training is necessary for protecting others from your dog, and also protecting your dog from others. Since the dawn of time, dogs have been man's best friend and, these days, many are also trained to help us in everyday tasks as police dogs, guide dogs, rescue dogs, sheepdogs, etc.
A dog is an animal you can count on to love you and to help you! But dog training is not just useful for you, it's also a great way to stimulate your furry friend.
Dog Training: Basic Principles
Before starting your dog training, it's important to understand the basics of how it works. Dog training techniques have evolved over the years and, nowadays, most trainers advocate what is known as "positive dog training" or "positive reinforcement training". In short, it's recommended to reward rather than punish your dog - and it works! Although not all dogs are receptive to the same kind of training, it is easier to get a positive reaction with the use of encouragement instead of punishment or reprimand.
It goes without saying that positive training prohibits the use of violence - there is never a good reason to hit or assault a dog in any way. Not only is physical punishment an inhumane technique, but it is also unnecessary. Moreover, in the vast majority of cases, your dog will not understand the link between the violent act and the training exercise. Please note that gentle punishment can be used, but onlyif you catch your dog in the act.
The principles of dog training are the same for all types of training exercises:
When you teach your dog a command, you must choose the context in which you want it to be applied. Your dog will learn to react in one way or another depending on what you've taught them beforehand. So, be sure not to mix up hand gestures and to always stay consistent. Choose the right time to practise your dog training exercises and to apply them in a real-life context.
👉 Mental and Physical Health
Dog training sessions will be all the more enjoyable if your pooch is in good health. Make sure that all their vaccines are up to date, and that they have been properly dewormed and treated against parasites. We recommend that you deal with any stress or anxiety-related issues as soon as they arise, both with you and your dog. Take advantage of these moments together to clear your head and focus on the quality time spent with your faithful furry friend.
The tone of your voice is very important in dog training. It all starts with the name you gave your dog. Your pooch will respond more easily to a name that's short and easy to pronounce! Dog names ending with a vowel (A, E, I, O, U) are also recommended, as they are easier to distinguish than others. Use the same logic with the words you associate with your commands: they should be short and always pronounced the same way. Be firm and clear when it comes to giving a command, and tender when rewarding your favourite furball.
It will be easier for you to train your dog if you share a great bond. To this end, it's very important to spend quality time with your four-legged friend outside of dog training exercises. If you enjoy regular playful, loving moments, it will be much easier for the two of you to form a good team. Even during dog training sessions, the important thing is to have fun together!
Dog training should be practised constantly, not only during the initial learning process but also afterwards and throughout their life. The more the exercises become a habit, the more receptive and motivated your dog will be. Ideally, your pooch will view your dog training routines as a game. And it should be enjoyable for you, too!
Please note: It normally takes 6 to 10 weeks for a dog to assimilate the first basic principles of dog training. So long as you stay constant and consistent, your pooch will retain these good habits for years to come.
Let's be honest, this is your dog's main goal! Rewards can be offered in one of two ways: physical rewards and psychological rewards. So, either a tasty treat or a cuddle and a word of praise. Treats are not necessary for every little exercise, but remember to always congratulate your dog and offer them at least one treat at the end of every dog training session.
Basic Commands for Dog Training
Some basic commands are essential for starting your dog training:
A word of your choice to finish an exercise or cancel a command, such as "Okay" or "Go"
These commands are useful at home but, once outside, your goal is to be able to travel calmly and comfortably with your dog or to let them walk off the lead, for example. For this, the essential commands are as follows:
"Drop it" or "Leave it"
Always remember to enunciate properly and say your commands in a firm tone without yelling. Shouting could make your dog anxious and therefore be counterproductive.
Dog training helps your dog learn to respond to both verbal and visual commands so that you can take them out and about without worrying about the risk of danger. In addition to words, you can associate distinctive gestures with each command. You could also use certain accessories (in moderation) to help you with your dog training exercises: whistle, lead, clicker, etc. Many of these commands will also be useful for doing sporting activities with your doggie, such as canicross or agility, for example.
👉 How Do I Teach My Dog to Come When I Call?
Teaching your dog to come back to you is certainly the most important command in dog training. This is the one that will save you from every unexpected situation! As a reflex, we tend to call our dog only by name when we want them to come back. The problem with this is that, normally, when a dog hears their name, they stop and listen but then wait for the rest of the command to know what to do next. If you haven't taught your dog a specific word related to the command, then they will continue doing whatever they were doing.
It's up to you to find the word that suits you best: “Here”, “Come”, “Heel”, etc. Decide on the exact word and always use the same one. If you associate a gesture with this command, avoid making any other movement if, for example, you're annoyed that your dog has not responded. Doing so might confuse them and then the exercise won't work.
Start your dog training exercises at home using normal situations. The very first time, you can both be in the same room. Use the word and gesture you've chosen and reward your dog when they come to you. Then, do the same thing from another room. You can continue to back further and further away in this manner and your dog will quickly learn to understand the word.
Before going outside the house into a real-life situation, practise the exercise outside in a safe space as large as possible, e.g. a garden with a fence. As the days and weeks go by, your dog will eventually learn how to respond to your command and you can continue to practise the exercise in public.
PUBLISHED 18.12.2020 - HECTOR KITCHEN, ALL RIGHTS RESERVED
By the Hector Kitchen medical and scientific team
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