How To Train Your Dog – Basic Dog Training
The following is an excerpt from my Ebook, Dog Care 101 The Owner’s Handbook. Get your free copy by signing up for ThePawsHub Email list.
An important part of owning a dog is how well you train them. Many people say “My dog is too stupid” or “He just doesn’t listen.” It is often the case that your dog is trying to understand you, but you aren’t making it easy for him. A common reason your dog won’t listen is that he sees you as an equal or someone who gives him everything he wants, instead of an owner who takes care of him.
Dogs are pack animals. Each pack has a ranking order from alpha to omega. If you wait on your dog hand and foot, don’t establish dominance, and give in every time he refuses to obey a command, you are only reinforcing your dog’s belief that he is the leader of the pack. However, if you make your dog submit to training, establish yourself as alpha, and make it clear that you are not to be disobeyed, you will both be much happier in the long run.
I, along with most experts, recommend positive reinforcement training. This means when your dog obeys, he gets praised, and he gets a treat. If he disobeys, he is ignored. Dogs love attention and treats, so if you associate making you happy with a dog biscuit and a pat on the head, your dog will try his best to do whatever you want him to do.
Negative reinforcement training is something I would only recommend to people who have a lot of experience training dogs, as most people misunderstand the meaning.
For instance, if you come home from work and you find a puddle of pee on the floor, and you decide to spank your dog, that is poor training. Your dog will not be able to associate the puddle with the spanking and will not understand what he is being punished for. Alternatively, if you come home to the puddle, put your dog close to it, associating him with the urine, and take away his favorite ball in front of him, he will be negatively reinforced not to use the bathroom inside the house.
It is best to leave this sort of training to those who know when to use it, as unwarranted punishment can lead to your dog growing even more unruly.
Remember to try using a commanding tone when giving your dog an order. This ensures your dog associates a certain tone with doing a trick, instead of the same voice you use when you are praising him. That being said, here are some basic tricks every dog should know:
How to train your dog to – Sit
A very easy command to teach. Get on your dog’s level and hold a treat near his nose. Slowly raise the treat up using the word ‘sit.’ Once his butt touches the ground, say “Good boy, sit!” and give him the treat. With enough repetition, your dog will associate sitting down with praise and a treat. If your dog is having trouble with this one, try gently pushing his bottom to the ground. With a few more tries, he’ll be doing it on his own.
Note: Do not give your dog a treat if he sits on his own. Remember, you are praising him for obeying you, not simply for the act of sitting.
How to train your dog to – Come
Getting your dog to come when you call him is incredibly useful. Having your dog come find you wherever you are is great if you don’t want to go wandering your house looking for your pup.
Start by placing your dog about six or seven feet away. Say your dog’s name along with the command ‘come.’ If he starts moving toward you, continue encouraging him. Once he is about a foot away, give him a treat and praise him. Train him with this command a few times a day, and you will save yourself a lot of trouble in the long run.
Note: Do not use this command to get your dog to come over to you so you can punish him. You want your dog to associate ‘come’ with praise and happiness. Punishing him when he just obeyed your command will confuse your dog and make him more likely to avoid obeying in the future.
How to train your dog to – Wait
This is a great trick for any pooch to learn. Teaching your dog to wait can make sure he doesn’t start scarfing down any potentially harmful food you might drop on the floor, as well as stop him from bolting out the door whenever you leave.
To teach the ‘wait’ command, hold your dog in place by pressing on his chest with your hand, set a treat on the ground in front of him, and every time he lunges for the treat, gently push him back using the word ‘wait’ until he calms down. Once he is calm, do not let him get the treat himself. Rather, pick it up, say “good boy,” and hand it to him. This helps to assure your dog understands that he just followed an order instead of grabbing a treat off the floor after being told not to.
How to train your dog to -Lie Down
When your dog is standing in front of your tv, you will be glad you taught him this trick. To teach your dog how to lay down, first get on your dog’s level and give your dog the command to sit. Once he is sitting, gently push down on his shoulders directly above his front legs and pull his legs out from under him. Once he is laying down, use the command ‘down’ and give him a treat. With a little repetition and a little patience, your pup will have this trick down in no time.
How to train your dog to – Walk
When your dog doesn’t know how to walk properly, it can feel more than a little frustrating. From the pulling and the not listening to the constant distractions of every new smell or sound. Luckily, this can all be solved with the proper training technique, with some hard work, and a whole lot of patience.
Start by putting your dog’s leash on his collar. If he tries to jump while you do this, wait until he stops to try again. You don’t want your dog tackling your legs every time you suggest the two of you go for a walk. Before you walk out the door, this would be a good time to test out the ‘wait’ command.
Before you start walking, make sure you have plenty of treats in your pockets.
Keep a firm grip on the leash at first, as an untrained dog is more likely to try to run away. Make sure your dog has about two feet of leash. Too much and your dog will be the one walking you, not enough and you might as well be dragging him by the collar. As you walk, if your dog starts pulling, stop in place, and when your pup looks back at you, and the leash goes taut, give him a treat. This tells your dog that he needs to pay attention to you during your walks, instead of following every squirrel who climbs a nearby tree.
Give out treats whenever your dog walks close to you without pulling. This lets him know that this is the ideal walking position. Keep at this. It may take a while to learn, but it is invaluable to have a dog that not only loves to walk but also loves to make you happy while you’re doing it.
Note: Never let your dog pull you in any direction. You are the one walking him, not the other way around. If he starts to pull, stop in place. If your dog does not turn around to face you or doesn’t loosen the leash, start walking in the opposite direction and give him less of a lead. This will let your dog know that you are in control and that his bad behavior won’t get rewarded.
Stick to it and remember these are commands, not suggestions. Do not give rewards because your dog looks frustrated or when he is “close enough” as this encourages an incorrect behavior. If you put in the time and effort, you will have a happy, well-trained dog in no time at all.
If your dog is aggressive during training check out my article, How To Stop Aggression in Your Dog.
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