Training a dog requires an extra level of patience and diligence. Dogs, by nature, are playful and slightly unruly. Controlling their activity and focusing their attention is often challenging, especially if you’re trying to do so in an environment that offers distractions. The benefit is that investing the time and effort to train your pup helps him learn how to be a better companion to you and your family.
There are a few ground rules to follow when training dogs, we’ll explore four of the most important.
Consistency Is The Top Priority
Dogs learn by repetition. But to learn effectively, the repetition must be consistent. For example, suppose you’re teaching your dog to heel. If you say, “heel” and your spouse says, “down,” there is a chance your canine will become confused. He may eventually learn to heel on command, but the process of learning is slowed. It may even prevent him from committing the command to the memory. Be consistent. If a family member or friend participates, ask them to do the same.
It is also important when rewarding successful behaviour. Only provide a treat as a reward if your dog fully satisfies your command. For example, if you call for him to come, but he only comes halfway, withholds the treat until he fully complies. Otherwise, he will soon learn that coming halfway is sufficient.
Limit The Duration Of The Sessions
Dogs have short attention spans. For this reason, you’ll find that shorter sessions are more effective for holding their attention and producing positive results. A lot of owners push forward with longer periods despite their pups becoming bored. This rarely has a positive effect. The pup becomes less attentive while his owner becomes increasingly frustrated.
For the best results, keep sessions under fifteen minutes. Doing so helps guarantee your dog will stay focused.
Always Remain Calm
It is an often overlooked, but critical part of effective dog training. Always remain calm, regardless of whether your pup successfully responds to your commands. Owners often become frustrated with their dogs during training sessions and react in anger. Even if they manage to avoid yelling, the pup senses the tension. This shatters his focus and makes it even less likely he’ll behave as desired.
The calmer you remain, the more control you’ll have over the training sessions. If you feel frustrated, give your dog a final easy command and reward him when he satisfies it successfully. Then, end the session.
Most professional dog trainers are in agreement: positive reinforcement is far more effective than negative reinforcement. In other words, your dog will commit your commands to memory more effectively if he has been rewarded for complying with them in the past. By contrast, if he has been punished for failing to comply, he is unlikely to commit the command to memory. He will have learned nothing from being punished except to fear you.
Canines, whether puppies or adults, do not use logic in the same manner people do. For example, suppose your pup digs a hole in your garden and you stumble upon it hours later. If you punish him, he is unlikely to make the connection between the hole he dug and your reaction. This is the reason trainers strongly recommend rewarding behaviours immediately. If you wait, even for a few minutes, your pup won’t understand why you’re rewarding him (though he’ll happily accept the treat).
Most owners are well-intentioned about training their dogs. Unfortunately, many lack the patience or time to do it properly. If you intend to train your pup on your own, use the four ground rules above to improve your chances of success.