Most new dog owners, and trainers, may find themselves overwhelmed in the beginning as to what should be done first. This isn’t the old what comes first – the chicken or the egg question.
Don’t let this overwhelming feeling discourage you. Actually it is quite common, especially with new dog owners. These feelings simply show that you have a healthy concern for your pets overall well being. I have listed in the following paragraphs a few very simple rules to be used when training your new dog.
First, and foremost, you must remember to be consistent. Secondly, keep a level head and reward your pet appropriately. If you will do these two things you will have won the majority of the battle and will be well on your way to success.
What do these three dog training basics entail? In the following few paragraphs we will discuss each of these actions.
First of all dogs are creatures of habit. Every part of their daily life revolves around an internal schedule (clock) with specific routines. Dogs will anticipate the return of their owners at a certain time of the day and they know that meal times occur regularly (or they should). Dogs should also be walked on a schedule so they will learn how long to hold it and when they can expect to relieve themselves.
Once trained, your dog will exhibit certain behavioral characteristics that mark these set times of the day as they have learned them. You will see your dog do certain things – like bring you his/her empty food dish when its mealtime or wait by, or near, the door when its time for you to come home. Humans may see this as some sort of dull existence but our canine companions thrive on just these types of consistent routines. Knowing this behavior beforehand is extremely useful to the new trainer as it will make their job much easier by incorporating this knowledge into their training routines. Why?
To be successful, at canine obedience training, you must use the repetition of defined actions. The success of obedience training is based upon a simple fact – a dog will respond with certain actions every time certain commands are given. Remember Pavlov’s experiment?
This means that when you tell your dog to sit that is exactly what will happen. You must remember to be consistent with your training to make use of this instinctive behavior of your dog. Always go thru your training routines exactly the same way each and every time. There shouldn’t be any deviations until they have become second nature with your dog. If you tell your dog to sit, make certain your pet actually sits before moving on to the next point. If they don’t sit then gently push their hindquarters down to accomplish this. It is following this type of rigid consistency that will go a long way in achieving a well-trained pet that you can be proud of.
The next point, to remember, is to always keep a level head. Unfortunately this is one of the most difficult points for all new dog owners to learn – see dog owners have to have a little training too! When you are tired at the end of a long work day and your dog just doesn’t seem to be responding tempers will quite often flare up quickly. More often than not this is when you may decide your dog just can’t be trained. Or, worse yet, that you yourself just don’t have the right temperament, or skills, required. This in turn may lead you to feel completely discouraged by the apparent lack of interest, on your pets’ part, to learn even the simplest of behaviors.
Trust me when I say this – you will encounter these feelings more than once in your adventure as a dog trainer. When this happens take it as a sign that the lesson is over for the time being and retire to some less strenuous amusements such as cup of coffee or reading the paper. You have to remember that dogs are very much like children and will seemingly find ways to irritate you for their amusement. After all your new pet is probably still a child himself. Just like children they take time and patience in teaching them anything worthwhile. Remember the old saying “Rome wasn’t built in a day”. Well your dog won’t become that well trained champion of champions overnight either!
Moving on lets cover the third major point of becoming a successful dog trainer. The proper reward system you give your dog for doing a behavior or trick correctly. This is probably the most important part of the whole training process. Why?
It builds your relationship with your pet and illustrates to them how much you appreciate their good behavior and hard work. Again – consistent treatment – is critical in training and a reward should be given every time a performance or a command is properly executed. I’m not saying here to give your dog a food treat every single time as a reward. On occasion a tidbit of food is a great reward but doing so consistently is counterproductive to your training efforts. It will also result in an unhealthy (overweight) pet. To enhance your relationship with your pet and make future training session’s even more rewarding use other forms of reward. Using lots of verbal praise or petting your dog to show affection or even playing with his favorite toy or all great rewards. In so doing your pet will anticipate these various rewards and wish to please you even more.
By following these simple steps your pets training should be an easy task with many rich rewards. You will also experience less frustration yourself. So enjoy your pet, have fun and build a strong bond while training with these three principles.