Are you training a new dog? Stuck with a problem behavior you are having trouble correcting? Read on for some tips to help you effectively train your four-legged friend.
Consistency is the Key
Arguably the most important element in training a dog is consistency. Dogs, like small children, do not do well with mixed signals, and if you are inconsistent your dog is likely to get confused and to not understand what you want them to do. It is also a good idea to make sure that as many family members as possible are using the same training methods. That way, your dog will always know what is expected of them from your entire family.
Patience, Patience, Patience
Always be patient with your dog. Sometimes it is tempting to get frustrated or angry, especially when the dog is misbehaving, but in the long run this does not help the learning process any at all and could actually frighten the dog. Furthermore, behaviors take time to change. Do not expect your pup to have all their commands down quickly. Training a dog takes time. Behaviors that are natural for dogs such as jumping, biting and digging will take longer to correct.
Positive reinforcement is important for any good training routine. Dogs do what works. If sitting when asked, staying and giving a paw will get them a treat, a longer walk, a favorite toy or affection, then they will do it. Be sure to liberally reward your dog when they do something right. You likely have no trouble punishing behaviors you do not like. However, rewarding those behaviors you do like is sometimes harder to remember. Be genuine and sincere with your affection and praise. It is even okay to be a little bit over the top. Make sure your dog knows that you like what they are doing, and they will be much more likely to repeat the behavior.
Learn to Listen
Listening is an important skill in any relationship. If your dog seems uncomfortable with something you are asking them to do, that is a clear message. Do not force your dog to do something that they are uncomfortable with. They have their reasons. As a human, you may not understand what those reasons are, but it is important to respect them. You can always try again later. Just because they are not comfortable at this moment does not mean they will always be uncomfortable.
These tips may seem basic, but their value cannot be underestimated. If you build a good relationship with your dog now, you are likely to have less incidents of bad behavior. Furthermore, your dog is much more likely to listen to you when you ask them to sit instead of chasing the mailman or jumping on the guests the next time you choose to entertain. Even more importantly, a well-trained dog is a loyal companion who will be at your side for the rest of their life.