Dog Training Techniques Explained
Important rules for dog owners include always ending a dog training session with something positive. Then your dog will come to expect that to happen.
Dog Training Rules
- Training must be enjoyable for your dog and also for you. If you’re not in a good mood, don’t bother because your dog will know. Sessions should only be a short time so your dog will remain motivated.
If he won’t respond properly when you give a command several times, don’t give him a reward. Then try again but use an easier command. Go back to the harder task a bit later.
Always finish the training in a positive way. Give a command you already know he’ll always obeys. Then give him a reward for doing it well and give a finish command such as “release” or “free.” Don’t use ordinary words like “okay.”
At the end of a session, both you and your dog should feel like you have achieved something.
- All dogs should know the most basic of obedience commands. Others you can add include: stop it, leave it, enough, leave it or cease. Remember that a dog is less motivated as the tasks grow more complicated. Your success rate will depend on how sophisticated the command is and how motivated your dog will be to respond. Look at it from your dog’s point of view. Is it more appealing to chase that squirrel or return to you? Understanding this will greatly improve your patience and the level of success you reach.
Dog training techniques should never contain any punishment or negative elements of training. You can’t hit, hang, chain jerk, yell and definitely never use an electric shock. Every training period should be positive, happy and upbeat and reward your dog for things he does well. PUNISHMENT is NOT the opposite of reward; it’s NO reward. Ignore wrong responses from your dog and if he fails to respond, he gets no rewards. Most dogs are keen to make their owners happy and to get valued resources such as food, toys and attention.
- It’s essential that the biggest reward you give your dog is one he gets for doing well during training. If the reward is food, it’s better to train prior to his meal and not after he has eaten. If you use petting, praise and other elements of your focus as rewards, have a training session when your dog really craves your attention. An example would be if you just got home from work.
Dog walking rules can include on and off leash behaviors. If you plan complicated aspects of training such as him not being on the leash and you use the “down-stay” command, ensure you have already given him moderate exercise to drain some of his energy. Then it will be easier to make him stay in a reclining position and avoid setting yourself up for failure in the early training stages.
- Using food as a reward will work if it’s your dog’s favourite foods. Dogs who are motivated by food will perform better than if it isn’t used. Freeze-dried liver and small bits of cheese are usually favourites but you know your dog so choose his favourites. Your goal is to be strong as you motivate your pet to obey all commands so he gets a delicious treat.
If food treats are used, they MUST be very small, about the size of the fingernail of your smallest finger. The food’s texture should be easy to digest, not need chewing and not crumble so it won’t make a mess. If any of these things do happen, your dog’s attention will be distracted as he licks up every crumb he can find. Never use large foods as treats because they take a lot longer to consume, and the concentration is lost.
If you intend to vocalise praise for a reward, do it in a singsong tone of voice as this is very pleasant for dogs. Make sure your voice is enthusiastic because that lifts the dog’s mood. If you pat him, choose the best options he likes. This includes tummy rubs, parting the dog behind his ears and gently stroking his face.
Note: Most dogs dislike having their heads patted so find out for yourself if this describes your dog.
- You must time the reward for best advantage. If your dog has done as you wanted, reward him within half a second of that command so your dog understands the link between the good behaviour and the reward for doing so.
- When choosing a word, only say it once. Examples include: off, out, quiet, sit, leave it, down and quiet. A dog can remember your command for approx. two minutes before forgetting it. Short words are ideal for most commands.
There’s only one command with three words. The first is your dog’s name. As an example, his name is ROVER. Then you’ll say a one or two word command. For example: ROVER. Then you say the name or another syllable. For example: Rover! Then “SIT.”
- Put the leash on your dog and get his focus so he’s looking right at you while you’re looking right at him. Then use an action word such as SIT. A dog that’s not trained very well may slowly sit and, when he does, quickly reward him with praise…Say GOOD BOY, ROVER. Also remember to say it with all your heart and in a high tone whilst simultaneously rewarding him.
If a dog hasn’t been trained, you’ll need to help him sit by holding a snack above him and making him sit before he gets it. If you’re successful with this, praise him well and give him the food. If he doesn’t sit, you may have to put extra tension on his collar or push his rump down.
- Once your dog is doing what you want more than 85% of the time while you’re training him in a quiet environment, the next stage should commence. This is where you shape his behaviour towards the response you expect from him. You may reward him for sitting faster…say within 3 seconds, then 2 seconds and finally 1 second or straightaway.
Choose the reward before issuing the command. Another option is to give him rewards if he sits for more definite, longer periods of time so he can’t just touch his rear to the ground to win the treat. Make sure he’s firmly sitting before giving him any reward and you can slowly make the time longer between when he sits and when he’s rewarded for that.
- Work on gradually boosting the amount of time your dog must stay in a SIT- STAY position and he can relax in that position for a minute while you’re five feet from him. Slowly increase the time gap from the sitting to the rewarding when he has achieved each goal successfully for 5-10 times. If you use very long sitting periods, the reward can be given intermittently during this time (at least during his training period.)
Use easy words such as STEADY or EASY to teach him to associate the exercise with relaxation. You should also use a release command which can be RELEASE or FREE because these will let the dog know when he has done what you wanted for enough time.
- It’s important to vary commands you use during any training period and keep the sessions short but have lots of them. Dogs learn better during short training times that are regular as compared to longer, infrequent sessions. After he has learned some useful commands during the continuous rewarding schedule (i.e. where he gets rewarded each time he does what is asked of him), it’s time to not reward him all the time. Start with twice out of each three training sessions and then every third period of training. Then you should only reward him occasionally. That’s how he gets weaned off food treats and will stop your dog from only obeying when he gets a treat. Remember that it’s still vital to praise your dog every time he does what’s asked of him, regardless of whether other rewards are to be given.
Dog Training Guidelines Final Thoughts
After dog training has been successfully achieved in quiet environments, it’s time to carry out more training in different places where there could be numerous distractions.
Keep dog training in the yard, using his leash, but slowly make it longer and eventually not using it at all but he still obeys you without having his leash on. Training in busy environments is a good idea because it will test your control when he’s distracted.
The ideal scenario is to have your dog obey you all the time without needing the leash, even if there are distractions that may be tempting.
This level of your dog’s training will end up working but it will take a lot of time and hard work from you and your beloved pet. This is certainly a worthy objective.