Happy National Train Your Dog Month! This is a time to celebrate our dog’s intelligence, as well as spend more time with them practicing new tricks. If you have only one New Year’s resolution with your pet, let it be this: teach them as much as you can! While you have work and friends, your dog only has you. You are his whole life. And the more you stimulate their brain by teaching them things, the easier it becomes for them to learn. Your dog is very smart, and you can make him smarter!
But training can sometimes be daunting. If your dog seems distracted, let it be. Training should be a fun bonding activity, the more fun your dog has with you, the more effective the training will be. A rewards based approach is much more effective than a confrontational one- you don’t want to be at war with your dog! For your dog, being able to please you improves his self-esteem and lets him know he is part of the pack.
So here are Allivet’s Dog Training Do’s and Don’ts:
Do: Use rewards like treats to train your dog so your dog will enjoy training. You can find a lot of healthy, delicious treats here at Allivet. Break or cut large treats into little pieces for a whole training session. Remember treats should be no more than 20% of your dog’s diet! Also try using a clicker to associate treats with a click. And remember to praise your dog generously! He is doing all these tricks just to please you and your approval means the world to him.
Don’t: Use force or punishment when working with your dog. Don’t make this confrontational! Otherwise your pup will not think training is fun, and worse, they will be afraid of you. If your dog is tired or distracted, give them a little break. His attention span is not the same as yours, and by pushing him too much you will hurt his self-esteem and make him feel less capable and less motivated.
Do: Use comfortable, dog friendly equipment so that your dog feels relaxed and happy. This is especially important for leashes and harnesses, so your dog can enjoy walking with you. Remember that when your dog is comfortable he is much more likely to learn quickly and give you his full attention. Make sure that all the equipment you are using is safe for your dog, no toys that could be accidentally swallowed or making him jump onto wobbly surfaces.
Don’t: Use aversive equipment such as choke collars, prong collars, or shock collars. Don’t make training painful or scary for your dog.
Do: Make your dog work for things he wants, such as meals, walks and toys. This will make him feel valued and valuable to the household, because he is earning things instead of having them given to him. It will also mean that your dog will look to you for guidance. Since you can provide the things he needs, he will look to please you as much as he can.
Don’t: Use confrontational methods that may frighten your dog or worse, cause your dog to react aggressively. If he feels threatened by you, it’s only natural that he would react in self-defense. Your dog just wants to be your best friend. He will be there for you no matter what, he will never judge you, and he will always look up to you. Show your dog respect. Respect his boundaries and his instincts.
And finally, the biggest Do: Be consistent! Repeating a behavior over and over again is the best way to ensure your dog learns it, until it becomes second nature to him. Don’t reward a behavior one day and punish it the next. Dogs are happiest when they have clear boundaries and they know the rules, as that makes them feel safe. Remember, be consistent!
We hope you find our tips useful. What are your favorite dog training tips? Leave a comment and share your story!