Dog Training 101: So, you just brought home a four-legged companion. Congratulations on having a new member of your family!
It’s truly an exciting time! At the same time, it can also be intimidating. There’s just so much to teach your new buddy. Are you wondering how and where to start?
Well, then, this article is for you!
Preparation For Dog Training
You may be excited to train your new furry friend. However, there are preparations you need to make beforehand. Read on to learn more.
- Talk To Your Vet And Get Professional Advice
Before starting your dog training adventures, first, you need to speak with a vet. If your dog came from a rescue facility or a dog pound, it might have a health condition or experience anxiety. In this case, your approach to training will differ from the norm. You want to get the facts from the experts before you dive into full training.
Speaking of experts, you can also consult expert trainers like Flash Dog Training in Portland Oregon. These experts may provide pointers on how to train your pup and may even have breed-specific advice on how to get your dog to obey.
2. Get The Right Equipment
You don’t need a lot of equipment to train your dog. But you do need to start with the right stuff to make everything easier. Your dog training toolkit usually includes three things:
In terms of training, you’ll need a short leash to start, at least four feet or less. This helps instill polite behavior and keep your dog close to you as you train. As you move towards advanced training, you can use a longer leash.
You can choose small, healthy dog treats—whether store-bought snacks designed for training or a cheese stick cut into tiny pieces. Regardless of what you choose as your dog’s treat, make sure that it’s small and easily digestible so it won’t quickly fill up your pup or make him sluggish before you’re done with your training sessions.
Like treats, a clicker is used to mark and reinforce the correct behavior you want from your pup–both in response to a signal or when it naturally occurs. Clickers are available in a variety of styles, shapes, and functions. You can find handheld ones, those with wrist straps, and some built-in leashes. You can also try installing clicker apps. Most apps feature different distinct sounds that allow you to train multiple dogs.
3. Find And Set Up A Private Den
When training your dog, you need to have its focus. So, you want to find a dedicated space without distractions where you can train your pup. You can also use this private den to instill discipline. For instance, if your pup becomes too excited, you can leave him alone in his private den and allow him to calm down.
4 Steps To Training Your Dog
Once you finish preparing, it’s time to train. At first, training can be so exciting, but as hours or days pass, it can get frustrating, especially for first-time dog parents. So, when training your pup, be extra patient and consistent.
That said, here is the step-by-step training plan for your pooch.
5. Start With House Training
Dog training, whether you have a pup or an adult dog, starts with house training, also known as potty training or housebreaking. As a family member, you’ll probably want to keep him inside. But you wouldn’t want him to make a mess in your home either. Thus, you’ll need to teach your pup where to eliminate.
The key to potty training is establishing a routine. Giving a consistent feeding schedule allows for a consistent elimination schedule. You need to pick a specific spot outdoors and take him there to do his business.
You can use a phrase to train him. For instance, ‘potty time’ or ‘go potty,’ will allow him to tie the behavior to the command. In time, you can use this phrase as a reminder for the behavior. When he succeeds in eliminating where you want him to, ensure to praise him immediately afterward.
Take note that housebreaking is one of the most frustrating processes. Regardless of how consistent you are, accidents may happen. And when they do, you need to keep your cool. Never punish your dog for their mistakes since this is counter-productive. Your dog won’t understand that your anger is tied to him eliminating inside.
The most important thing is to be patient and give your dog time to adjust to his new home and lifestyle.
6. Learning Basic Commands
Once you’ve potty trained your pup, it’s time to start the basics of obedience training. Training your pup early on is essential in preventing unwanted behaviors. However, if you’re training an older dog, it may take a little longer for him to learn and retain the behaviors you want.
When training, don’t expect to hold your dog’s attention for extended periods. So, keep sessions short and gradually increase the time daily. Teach your pup the basic, one-word commands, including ‘sit,’ ‘stay,’ ‘come,’ and ‘stand’ and always reward them for every command they follow.
Pick one command and focus on it until your pup learns the behavior, then move on to the next. Also, start simple and increase the difficulty as you see progress. For instance, when teaching your dog to ‘sit’,’ gradually increase your distance from him as he succeeds. When teaching him to ‘stay,’ gradually increase the time he’s expected to hold the command.
Once you master those, you can also include some distractions. You can ask a family member or friend to stand within view or throw a ball while he’s seated. Then move your training sessions to the kitchen or backyard, where new distractions will challenge his focus.
Also, make sure to reinforce these commands outside of your training sessions. For instance, work with him to ‘sit’ when going outside or before mealtime.
7. Socialization And Leash Training
Socialization means training your adult dog or pup to accept new animals, people, or places by exposing him to these new things. A socialized dog is less likely to develop behavioral issues and is generally more welcomed by others. It may also help in preventing the development of phobias and anxiety.
Taking daily walks is key to teaching your dogs to be social. Taking your pup out to a public place or dog park and walking around will help him become more comfortable with other people and the world around him—from cars driving across the street to other dogs they meet, their world becomes a little less scary.
That said, you first need to leash train your pup if you’re going to take him for walks. Other than the fact that most areas have leash laws, a leash-trained dog ensures safety for others and himself. Therefore, it is necessary to learn how to introduce your dog to the leash. Remember to keep your leash short and always train at home to keep distractions at a minimum.
The most important thing about leash training is not letting your dog pull you to wherever he wants to go. If your pup pulls or lunges at something (for instance, another dog on a walk), turn yourself into a tree and stand very still. Use cues such as ‘come’ to call your dog back to you or redirect his attention with a treat. Never jerk or yank the leash or even drag your dog along with you. This is why it’s essential to have a short leash to train dogs that tend to pull.
When at the park, ensure to keep your pup leashed until you’re confident he can follow commands. Walk around the park and expose your dog to different things while keeping him controlled by your side. If he’s well-behaved and obedient and learned not to be too excited when seeing other dogs or distractions, you can try letting him roam off-leash. Just keep a close eye and call on him every now and then to reinforce signals and commands.
8. Learning Cool Tricks
Aside from the basic commands, you can start teaching your pup fun little tricks. Not only will this help keep you entertained, but it is also critical for mental stimulation.
When training your pup to perform tricks, you need to teach him successive behaviors that closely resemble your goal or approximation. Have him repeat each approximation and reward him every time. Then, work your way to the desired goal. Once he learns the final step, you can use the cue word so he can learn to perform on command.
Always start with an easy trick in a distraction-free area and work your way to the more complicated ones. Also, pick a time when he’s not overexcited and is calm enough to focus. As always, focus on one skill and increase the challenge.
Training your dog, whether a rescued adult or a newborn pup, is a big undertaking. Although intimidating, we hope this guide has provided you with a better idea of the basic steps and tips to successfully train an obedient doggo! In the end, all you really need is patience and consistency.