Dog Training Advice: Because Dogs Don’t Train Themselves

Training a dog may not be rocket science, but it has its own challenges.

The task of dog-proofing a house is one of the responsibilities that the owner has to own up to: with that accomplished, a smoother, more loving atmosphere will facilitate relationship between owner and pet, one that does not exactly include broken furniture and upholstery that smells vaguely of dog pee.

Remember, dogs are non-verbal creatures; they communicate in a myriad of looks, gestures, noise, even fascinating and endearing facial expressions. The owner just has to take time understanding the dog’s context, what he looks like in the middle of an action, at a certain place, or with specific people. Making mental links of these associations will help the owner understand what a canine nuance means. The following steps may prove beneficial when it is time to train your beloved pooch.

  • The ideal time to start training a dog is of course when he is a puppy. As the saying goes, “You can’t teach an old dog, new tricks” (though it is not necessarily true). The stimuli-response factor – the action elicited by a spoken or gestured command – will be better ingrained.
  • The atmosphere matters – a lot. Take note that the sensory capabilities of dogs are much more acute compared to that of humans; inasmuch as noise irritates people when they are studying, the same is applicable with the canine counterparts. Bangs and pops and bursts may cause stress to the dog, and may hinder the learned behavior from sinking in properly.
  • Be sure to prepare a repertoire of praise – so that the accomplishment of a good deed becomes an end to itself. Other than the usual doggy treat, congratulate the pooch by loosening up, giving him a brief hug or a pat on the head will do wonders. As pet owners we should never underestimate the reinforcement this kind of motivation highlights.
  • Cramming never works for humans – such is the case with dogs. Instead of preparing an extended module, opt for shorter – but consistent – training periods instead. Coupled with assignation of simple steps, the behavior will sink in nicely.
  • Again, make conscious effort on the consistency of training. Be firm (but gentle), and repeat the motions till the dog is manifesting the behavior well.
  • Too noisy? Doing something wrong? Dog barking too much? Do not despair. It may be signs of stress, or lack of focus, or fluctuating consistency. Go back to the points above: it may be the venue, it may be the difficulty of the lesson, or that Spot feels that he’s not getting the acknowledgement he deserves. The proper mindset for both pet and person requires elimination of any source of obstruction or distraction.
  • When the dog commits mistakes, keep your cool. Bear in mind that these sessions are also bonding time for you and your pet. Do not resort to violence; instead – as per animal psychology – eliminate the bad behavior by reinforcing the good one more.

The main key in dog training is patience. Dogs after all are very sentient animals. And as with every other species in this planet, dogs just reflect the attitudes of their masters, and will respond better with gentleness and goodwill.

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