No dog is born with good manners, nor are humans. When training your dog the most important thing you need to teach it is to let you know when it has to go to the bathroom.

Are you tired of your new puppy pooping on your carpet, leaping up on the laps of your guests, pulling so hard on its leash that you feel your arm is going to be pulled out of the socket? This is not fun, but it is SOP (standard operating procedure) for a dog. If you want your pet to act civilly when guests are around and not create chaos in your life at other times, you’ll need to train your puppy or adult dog if you expect it to be pleasant to live with.

Not training your dog has about the same results as never sending your child to school and expecting him to graduate from college summa cum laude.

Training is the best gift you can ever give your puppy or young adult dog. It’s a great way to develop a lifetime bond with your dog. Friendly, house trained, well-behaved dogs make better companions and are less likely to end up in an animal shelter when an owner can no longer handle its antics and bad behavior.

We all remember the old saying “You can’t teach an old dog new tricks”. This is nothing more than an old aphorism passed down through generations. More often than not, it is actually referring to humans and their stubbornness in learning something new or changing their ways. In actuality, there are no age limits to teaching dogs. Puppies as young as three weeks old can learn correct behavior and so can adult dogs of any age.

But here’s the most critical part of training – the buck starts with you!

When training your dog it doesn’t matter whether you have a new puppy or a senior dog; the first step is learning how to be a good teacher to your dog.

    Guidelines for dog training

No matter what you’re trying to teach your dog, whether it’s house training or commands like “sit” or “stay”, there are a few basic guidelines that will help make the whole teaching and learning process easier for both you and your pet.

Be consistent
Always use the same signal and tone of voice for a command when training your dog. If you say “come” one day, then “come here” another day, and “come here, now” a different day, you’ll do nothing but confuse your dog. If you allow your dog to yank on its leash sometimes, but you jerk it by the collar when it pulls you other times, you’ll also confuse it. It’s important that everyone who will be issuing commands to your dog uses the same rules and signals.

Use praise and rewards
Almost all dog trainers believe that dogs learn better and faster when they are praised and rewarded for getting it right, instead of punishing them when they get it wrong.

The best motivator is usually a combination of a small food treat and enthusiastic praise. Too many people forego the doggy treat because they worry they’ll end up with a dog who’ll only behave when it’s rewarded with food. Once your dog gets the idea of what you want, you can begin cutting down on the treats and eventually phase them out entirely.

If your dog isn’t that interested in doggy treats (try finding one who isn’t!) you can reward it with a physical incentive like a good tummy rub.

Time the rewards right
The praise and reward need to come immediately after your dog does what you want, otherwise it will not understand the connection between the action and the reward.

Keep it short and sweet
Training always works best if it’s fun for your dog and you keep the training period short so neither of you gets bored or frustrated. Try starting with 5-10 minutes a day, especially if you have a puppy. Puppies have shorter attention spans than older dogs. And don’t act like a drill-sergeant unless you’re training guard dogs.

Make it easy for your dog to get it right
If you attempt to train your puppy or dog in a dog park with dozens of interesting distractions, you’re going to be behind the eight ball and probably will never succeed at proper training. You need to train your pet slowly, starting in a quiet, familiar place with no distractions. After it has mastered some simple commands you can begin making the training more challenging for your dog. Don’t move on to the next step until your dog has mastered the current one.

Keep your cool
Yelling, hitting, and jerking your dog around by a leash won’t teach it how to sit on command, go outside when it needs to urinate, or do anything else you want it to learn. Calm, consistent training is the best way to get your dog to obey and respect you.

Don’t expect that once your dog has learned something, it’s ingrained for life. Your dog can lose its new skills if you don’t continue with regular practice of the commands you’ve taught.

Every dog is different and will respond better to different training styles. Some dogs are so sensitive that a sharp tone of voice can rattle them; they need calm, quiet guidance. Others may be slower to learn and need lots of repetition before they get all the rules down pat. Some dogs will occasionally push back when you push them, rather than give in to what you’re asking for.

Your dog’s behavior, not its breed, is the best indicator of its personality. Yelling, hitting, and other practices that cause pain or fear are never the solution for any dog’s misbehavior. These actions can create a behavior problem where none existed, or make an existing problem worse.

The bottom line in training your dog is the investment of your time to turn your relationship with your pet into a win-win situation. Do your homework first to learn how to communicate what you want in a way that your dog will understand. Be consistent and patient, and always reward your dog for getting it right.

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