Key secrets to remember in Dog Training
By Ray Coleiro
While training your dog, please remember:
- Do not punish the dog. Punishment is not a training aid. It does little to foster willingness to learn and achieve. Limit yourself to a firm ‘no’ and to using your hands to block the dog’s negative actions. Refrain from hitting or physically abusing the dog.
- Display extreme levels of patience and persistence – never give up. The dog is bound by nature and genetics to test how far he can push you or get away with disobeying you. You must display a stern and stoic attitude and do not pat, praise, or reward the dog if he does not pay attention or refuses to do as you have asked. Only yield once your commands are followed.
- Be consistent in your training schedule. Always schedule a class at the same time of the day and for a fixed period – your dog will soon recognize that it is the time to learn and will willingly come forward. During training, both coordination and the trainer’s movements have a direct correlation to the dog’s comprehension. So, if commanded ‘come’, the dog must be gently guided towards the trainer by a helper or by using a leash so that the pet realizes that ‘come’ means that he must go towards the master.
- Be repetitive with each learning block until the trick/lesson is mastered. Some lessons will be learnt quickly while others will take a while. The pattern is different for different dogs and varies from case to case.
- Use rewards and praise as often as required. Praise should immediately be forthcoming when a dog responds to any command. The pet will associate responding to commands with praise/rewards (treats) and will try to respond quicker to reap his rewards. Once a command/trick has been mastered then the treats can be withdrawn. You will find that obeying a command becomes second nature to your dog.
- Keep the lessons simple. To begin with, the lessons should be fairly easy and such that the dog can complete it within two-three actions. As his level of learning increases the lessons could be more complex. Just as our children go, at first to play school, then to kindergarten, and then to the first grade so also in the case of our pets.
- Respect the intelligence of your pet and allow him to think and use his mind. Give time to your pet to figure out what is asked of him. Do not try and help him complete the set task. If you do so, the pet will allow you to do the work for him. If you display patience, the dog will realize what you need him to do and he will obey you directions.
- Treat the dog as you would a colleague/ student. You must, talk to your dog explain what it is all about. Speaking to the dog while training will ensure that the dog keeps his attention focused on you. He will soon master the different tones used by you to give commands.
- Do not plan long sessions – their attention span is short. Therefore, short lessons are learnt better. It is recommended to have short 10-minute sessions repeated 2-3 times a day.
Whether you are a first time dog owner or a seasoned veteran, your learning never stops as far as it comes to training your dog. Each and every dog presents different training challenges, and the more equipped you are to handle these training issues the more likely you are to prevent any permanent and long term future behavioral problems.
Obedient dogs make the best companions
By Samuel Murray
Time spent training your dog will reward you with a pet that is deeply bonded to you, respects you and is a joy to have around. Training your dog doesn’t mean extinguishing her unique personality, it is simply a means of setting boundaries-something that makes dogs feel secure.
Some owners unconsciously train their dogs to exhibit bad behaviors. Since dogs are social animals, they are interested in doing whatever gets them attention. Positive attention is best, but if negative attention is all they can get from you, they’ll try to obtain that. This is why yelling at a dog that has had an “accident” in the house doesn’t teach her to not do that. All your excitement reinforces her behavior. The best way to let a dog know you are displeased with her is to ignore her.
Positive reinforcement is the key to training your dog. Basically, this means rewarding desired behavior. A reward might be a food treat, lots of verbal praise in a high voice and/or a good pet or scratch in her favorite spot. Rewarding your dog’s behavior accomplishes two things: it makes her want to repeat the behavior to reap the reward and establishes you as her leader. Some dogs are more assertive than others, and will try to become dominant over you. It is important that you remain the “leader of the pack,” and obedience training helps with that. However, even, and perhaps especially, less assertive dogs benefit from training. Following a leader is instinctive in dogs. Training your dog allows her to employ that instinct to follow someone else, and makes her feel more secure.
There are many training approaches within the realm of positive reinforcement. Some behaviors will be captured-rewarded as they occur-while others can be shaped by gently coaxing the dog into the desired action. Most professional trainers recommend using both a verbal commands and hand signals to communicate with your dog. Besides words/signals for behaviors such as sit, stay, and come, you will need a “release” signal. This is a word or sound that tells your dog she’s done something correctly. The release signal is always immediately followed by a reward, so that the dog comes to associate it with something positive.
You have lots of options as to how you go about training your dog. Libraries, bookstores and pet stores offer plenty of “how-to” training books. You can also find a lot of great information by surfing the Internet. If you prefer to have a professional by your side every step of the way, enroll in a basic obedience class. Major pet supply chains, humane societies and dog clubs usually offer classes. These classes are an excellent way to socialize your dog and educate yourself. If your schedule doesn’t allow you to participate in a class, check your community phone book for personal dog trainers. Most will come to your home on a regular basis and provide in-depth training custom-tailored to your needs.