What you need to know before starting dog training
As a dog owner it is important to know some of the basic factors that underpin a relationship with your dog. Understanding these can go a long way towards training them effectively.
The first fundamental step is to have a loving, but respectful, bond with your dog. This bond will not only help you to understand the dog’s needs, but appreciate their natural instincts. It also helps your dog to have trust and confidence in you. You will need this in order to train your dog.
Let’s see how all this works…
Creating a healthy bond with your dog
Developing a bond with your dog is perhaps the single most important step towards successful training. There will always be an initial “bedding in” for a dog coming into your home. They will need to establish in their own mind where they fit into the family and what their place is in the home.
Like any dog training, you will need to show patience and understanding while this “settling” occurs. Once a dog is secure in the knowledge they belong, they are more likely to respond well to training – listening and being more responsive to their owner’s instructions. There needs to be an element of mutual trust.
The point I’m making here, is there is a balance to be struck – a dog will need at least a few days to settle in before any training starts (some may need longer to feel comfortable) and equally so, you shouldn’t leave it so long that a dog is allowed to develop their own bad habits. These habits will only be harder to train your dog back out of, if left for a long time.
Trust takes time to develop and respect comes from defining boundaries and treating any breach of those boundaries with firmness and fairness. Just like with children, dogs like to know what their boundaries are, so you need to be prepared to enforce them along the way.
4 Golden Rules To Building A Relationship With Your Dog :
- Make sure you spend enough quality time together
- Go out and about together, experiencing what the outside world has to offer (If you have a puppy, please make sure they are old enough and vaccinated appropriately before going out)
- Work on establishing and developing mutual respect
- Be aware of your dog’s body language and how they communicate with you
Having a good bond with your dog will not only help you manage him/her more easily, but your dog is more inclined to be a well adjusted pet.
“Love Your Dog and He Will Love You back”
if you spend time on these fundamental aspects first, your will find training your dog a lot easier and quicker!
So how does a dog learn?
There are 5 stages of learning that your dog will go through during his/her education:
1. The Teaching Phase
During this phase you will need to physically show and demonstrate your dog exactly what you want them to do. It may take a few demonstrations for them to get it, but if you’re patient and consistent, they will get there!
2. The Practicing Phase
Once they have got it, keep practicing with them. It is this reinforcement which will help them master the action.
3. The Generalizing Phase
An extension of the practicing phase, this is all about changing small elements like the location, but working on keeping the behavior the same. For example, during a walk take your dog to a different location and give them your usual command and see how they react.
This further reinforces their training and helps towards making it second nature. We are working on making it an automatic response, that your dog will remember for all occasions.
4. The Testing Phase
When you feel your dog reacts correctly about 90% of the time, try upping the level of distractions – for example, in places where there are more people and/or other dogs.
The idea is to keep testing your dog to see how he responds in new situations. This is a measure of whether the training is now “ingrained” in your dog, and is something you can rely on in almost all cases.
In any new situation, there are only 2 outcomes:
- Your Dog succeeds!!! (Trumpets please!)
- If your dog doesn’t respond as you expect, be consistent and keep on with the command until they respond correctly. Again, this might take practice in a new situation, but with perseverance they will understand what you want of them.
Keep on testing until you dog is almost perfect, always using the 3 P’s –
Patience, Persistence, Praise.
5. Internalizing Phase
Over time, your dog may “internalize” the training, adopting it as a behavior without you having to issue any command.
- Never scold your dog if he/she fails. It’s not their fault, and it means you have failed as a trainer!
- You must be patient and persistent with your efforts to show rewards.
- Appreciate and love your dog when he/she does get it right! A little encouragement will go a long way!
- Dog Training is easy when done in the right way.
If you have any questions or would like to share your own experiences, please do so below. 🙂