Any dog owner will know that your dog is your best friend. They are your partner in crime and loyal companion. Training your pet dog can be one of the most rewarding experiences of your life. You slowly learn to communicate with your furry critter and your relationship grows stronger. Training is the key to a happy, well behaved dog and it is important to start early in their life.
The earlier they adopt the basics of training, the easier your life will be. Dogs are creatures of habit, and the sooner they learn, the better. It is much harder to teach them later on in life. There is one important thing you need to understand before we begin. It is a lesson we learnt from dog expert Sheila Harper. You need to understand that training your dog is not about dominating it. It is about communicating. Think of yourself as a friend, not as a commander.
Firstly, it is important to choose a dog that suits your lifestyle. If your little one (or big one) fits your life, they will be much happier and easier to train. For example, if you choose a large, energetic dog, it won’t be happy in small, tower block apartment. It will get restless and grow angry. The first step to training a dog is making sure that they are happy and respect you. Each breed has its own personality and temperament too. Some are easier to train than others. If you’re a newbie at training, choose a Labrador or a German Shepherd.
Training a dog isn’t something that just happens. They won’t instinctively start to sit, or follow you. These skills must be taught. This means setting aside a small portion of time every day to teach them. The key to good training is repetition and frequency. The basics can be taught during their daily routine. Practice the heel command every morning on their walk. Practice the sit command every night when they go to bed. Keep a routine that they can understand.
Make sure that everyone in the family understands the training techniques and goals. Children, in particular, can get carried away when the big fur ball is bouncing around! Make sure they know that treats are only to be used as rewards. Make sure they know to use the dog’s correct name and how to say the basic commands. If you have family round, make sure they know when they can feed the dog and when they can’t. Simple disruptions to routine can play havoc with their training.
Always remember to reward success. Most animals don’t respond well to negative reinforcement. This is especially true in rescue dogs. Positive rewards are how they learn. Even if they are having a hard time learning a new trick, end the session with something they can do. They’ll feel like they have accomplished something and they’ll get a treat. They’ll look forward to the next training session.
Training is a great way to strengthen the bond and relationship with your animal. Always treat your dog with respect, even if they are struggling with a command. They will get it eventually!