According to recent statistics, around 68% of U.S households own some kind of pet, and the most popular choice of pet is, of course, the beloved pet dog. In fact, there are around 89 million pet dogs in the U.S alone. That’s a lot of hairy pooches for us to take care of, and great pet care starts with responsible training.
The old saying “You can’t teach an old dog new tricks” isn’t exactly true, but for the quickest and best results, dog training should always start from the very beginning when they are just small puppies. Here are the best tips and tricks for basic dog training. Where do you start?
Consistency is key
Your dog needs consistency to learn the right way. It’s important you use the same commands for the same action, otherwise you won’t see any results. For example, if you allow your dog to jump up at one certain family member but not at another, then they are likely to fail at your commands. Stick to your guns.
Reward good behavior
The traditional operant conditioning method of learning works best, because most canine behavioral experts suggest reward reinforcement is the best way to train a dog. A small treat is the best motivator to encourage good behavior, because once the dog learns that they’ll be rewarded for obeying a command, they are more likely to behave that way more often.
Discourage bad behavior
Experts suggest that negative conditioning isn’t particularly effective, so be careful in how you discourage your pet’s actions. Negative punishments may not work. Instead, try ignoring them until they do as you told them. For example, if you want them to calm down and stop jumping up, turn your back until they sit nicely – then reward. Treat them with respect, and they will eventually respect your commands too.
Decide on the rules
Dogs can become easily confused, especially if you are not consistent with the rules you put in place. Avoid this confusion by deciding on the house rules early on. Are they allowed on the sofa? Are any of the rooms in the house off-limit? When is playtime? Your dog is far more attentive than you think, so make sure you provide them with a stable environment for them to understand.
Patience is essential. Understand your dog’s personality and maintain a healthy two-way relationship by keeping calm. Don’t expect them to learn something right away – strong, consistent training takes time. Practice makes perfect, so don’t give up prematurely. Trust yourself, and more importantly, trust your dog.
Set up a dog den
Remember, your house is their home too. It’s important you provide a happy home for them, so perhaps consider setting them up a personal, private sleeping quarters. It’ll give them their own place to relax, seek comfort, and feel safe.
If you’re struggling to see any results with your training, consider taking some puppy training classes to educate you on the all-important dos and don’ts. Some breeds are harder to train than others, so if you think you’ll benefit from some expert advice, there’s sure to be some local obedience classes for you to take.
Just like us humans, every dog is different with different needs, habits, and behaviors. Think of training as a form of new communication between you and your dog, so do your homework, invest your time, and remember to stay patient.