Although actions, behaviour, commands or cues can be taught to a dog at any time during his life, experts encourage dog parents to start training their dogs as early as their first year. It is ideal to set aside even 10 to 15 minutes each day to start teaching your dogs – it will be you who will benefit in the long run.
Dogs are considered man’s best friend. Throughout the ages and of all animals, dogs have been man’s companion. More than companions, dogs serve a variety of functions. There are working dogs (eg, police dogs) and dogs that are used as guides for the disabled. Farmers and livestock owners use dogs for herding, and some home owners get dogs specifically to guard their property.
Whatever the primary purpose of a particular breed of dog is, it’s important that it receive proper training. Many dog training professionals will attest to the importance of having a well-trained dog. You don’t have to be a professional dog trainer to train your dog. You can do simple activities to teach your pet how to behave.
Here are 12 effective tips and tricks to follow to make your dog training session a success:
1. Curbing your dog’s digging behavior
As a dog owner, you need to understand that dogs are social animals. When they are lonely or alone, dogs resort to digging. Loneliness isn’t the only reason dogs dig, though. In some instances, dogs that dig are experiencing some sort of nutrient deficiency. To make up for this condition, dogs oftentimes would eat the dirt they dig. If your dog tends to dig a lot, spend more time with him. It also pays to have your dog checked up to make sure that his health is in good condition.
2. Potty training your dog
A reward-based method works best when potty training your dog. To use this method, give your dog a treat after it potties in the right place. Following up good behavior with a reward will make it easier for your dog to remember doing good behavior.
3. Repetition is key
Whenever you are trying to teach your dog something – whether it’s a trick or making your dog obey a command – repetition is important. Repetition and consistency are keys that will help your dog understand a command. To test if your dog knows a command after so many repetitions, test him without any assistance. Do this at least three consecutive times to make sure that your dog’s grasp of a command is not simply a fluke.
4. Communicating with your dog
When training your dog to follow a certain command or do a certain thing, it’s vital that you not just issue the command out. It’s also important that you direct your dog how to perform a command or drill as well as correct your dog if he does not follow the command properly. Be consistent when you are issuing out commands and trying to teach your dog to develop certain behaviors. For instance, if you are trying to teach your dog not to chew on slippers or shoes, do not praise him one day when you see him chewing on a slipper.
5. Proper timing in training your dog
It’s always best – and professional dog trainers will recommend this – to train your dog when it is still a puppy. When it comes to training dogs, it is indeed true that old dogs can’t learn new tricks. So start training your dog early.
6. Let your dog know you’re the boss
Dogs are pack animals, which means they follow a hierarchy. Thus, when training your dog, it’s important that you establish yourself as the alpha dog (the leader). Your dog needs to understand that he is the submissive being. Avoid showing any fear when your dog snaps back. Doing so will break the established hierarchy you have with your dog. When your dog is doing his exercises, never allow your dog to stop mid-way or not complete the exercise. Firmly let your dog know that it should do what you, the alpha dog, wants him to do.
7. Act around your dog
Your puppy will naturally want to chew on things so give your puppy an outlet for his chewing urges. You can give your puppy a chew bone to chew. If your puppy tries to chew on you, yelp loudly, fold your arms and ignore your puppy for about ten minutes. When a puppy becomes too rough on other puppies, the others yelp and tend to ignore the puppy. However, you may need to assess your puppy’s personality because he may react to the yelping by biting more and even harder. If this happens, you may need to apply a more aggressive approach.
8.Keep them short
A dog’s attention span, especially a puppy’s, is relatively short. They are also very easily distracted that’s why it’s important to keep training sessions not longer than 15 minutes. It could be even shorter during the first few times as your dog is just starting to get a feel of “training”. Don’t force it once he gets bored, there’s always tomorrow for another session.
9.Choose the right location
As mentioned, dogs are easily distracted. It is best to choose a training area that’s not busy and with the least distractions around – perhaps a quiet bedroom in your house. Too much noise or activity in the surroundings will greatly affect your dog’s concentration and ultimately, your training session.
10.Teach one command at a time
When training your pet, it is best that he learn and master one command at a time for each session. Sticking to one command helps improve his concentration and focus. Teaching different lessons in one session will confuse your dog and the longer it will take for you to achieve your goal.
11.Practice outside of training sessions
When you’re teaching your pet basic commands such as come, fetch, down and stay, it is best that he practice the lessons outside of your training sessions. This gives him the chance to apply what he’s learned in every day life. For example, reinforcing commands like “come” and “fetch” during playtime will also help your dog associate training with fun, making him more enthusiastic to learn.
12.Always end on a positive note
One of the best and fastest ways that dogs learn is when they enjoy your training sessions. Like mentioned above, keep the sessions short and rewarding. When your pet displays good behaviour, give him a treat and end the session there. This helps him look forward to future training sessions.
Trick and Treat: How Hard Is It to Teach Your Dog Trixie Tricks?
If you have a cute smart and wonderful dog name Trixie – and let’s face it, if you have a dog, they’re probably practically the cutest and most wonderful dog to ever exist – you might think that teaching Trixie tricks is a fun and easy way to show the rest of the world how great she is. No doubt you’re getting ahead of yourself imagining how many hits a video of her doing back flips is going to get on YouTube, but let’s back up a minute.
First, you have to teach her back flips. Back up again, first she has to be smart enough to be able to learn back flips. Back up one more time, she has to be able to do back flips. You see where maybe this fun and easy way to show the world how great Trixie is may not be so fun and easy. Here are the basics of teaching a trick, and after reading, you can decide if you still want to try to teach Trixie back flips.
You will need to establish a trigger signal to tell Trixie when it is time for her to perform her trick. This signal must be simple, clear and consistent. You must make sure that this signal doesn’t get confused with any other commands you already give her. For example, if you are teaching her to get up on her hind legs and you do so by giving her bottom a pat, but a butt-pat is how you tell her to sit, she will be greatly confused. It is likely that Trixie will unlearn the “sit” behavior or simply not learn the new trick signal.
There are two types of signals that can be used to cue a trick, a verbal and a hand signal. If you choose a verbal signal, you must make sure that it is spoken loudly, clearly and with a similar tone of voice each time. This verbal command must also not sounds like any which can already be found in Trixie’s vocabulary. For example, to get her to get up on her hind legs, rather than something short and clipped, like “Up” which may end up sounding, to Trixie, a lot like “sit,” try something different like, “Silver.” Silver mimics the famous cowboy saying, “Tallyho Silver, away!” This means the trick is both more performative to the audience, and more distinct from Trixie’s other commands.
A hand signal is sometimes a better choice for tricks. You can do a hand signal which somehow matches the action you wish to evoke from Trixie. To get her to raise up on her hind legs, you can make a fist and “rear” it back. This is an easily recognizable signal, and it demonstrates to her what she should do. Even a bit better is a combination of a hand signal and a vocal command, i.e. both the fist rear and “Silver.”
While stereotypically, treats are the reward of choice for teaching dogs tricks, this is not always the best way. It is likely that you’d like to be able to give your dog treats just because, at some point. You don’t want to confuse her into thinking that she only gets treats when she does tricks, and then giving her treats at random. Treats are only effective if you set aside one special type of treat for trick training and another for everyday consumption. Also, make sure you only give Trixie treats in little pieces, you don’t want her to get fat or sick because of eating too many treat while training.
Sometimes, coupling treats with verbal encouragement and physical affection – petting or scratching – is a helpful way to teach her. When you are without treat bits but want to show off a trick, you can reward her with petting and verbal encouragement, “Good dog,” so she is still rewarded for her trick. This continues affirming her behavior and therefore keeps her training from getting confused.
Don’t punish her when she gets it wrong, but don’t reward her either. If you are trying to teach her a trick, be patient and remember that you’re the one who wants her to learn it. She’s trying to learn it to indulge you, so if the going is slow, it’s not her fault. Don’t reward her when she gets it wrong, because confusing her by reward other behavior isn’t doing either of you any favors either.
Making it “Stay”
One thing you may find, once you have trained Trixie in this certain way, is that people want to see her do her cute trick over and over again. Be sure, if this is the case, that you avoid letting other people confuse her with the wrong signal, or by over rewarding her. Even something like a limp wrist or too many shakes in a hand signal, or adding a word in a verbal command can undo hours of hard work and training. Showering her with treats and praise unconditionally will confuse her, and will likely have a similar muddling effect on your training.
Do some research about the trainability of Trixie’s breed before getting started so that you don’t expect more than she can give you. Also, keep in mind that she wants to make you happy. Don’t act disappointed or cranky with her when she gets it wrong, or she will become depressed. Be patient, and remember: teaching your dog Trixie tricks is supposed to be fun.
Here’s How to Teach Your Dog to Fetch Something… And Actually Give It Back
Fetching is something that just seems like something that comes with owning a dog. But if your dogs are like mine, they do the chasing part really well and then fail at returning the item they fetched. So today, we’re going to learn how to teach your dog to fetch… and then actually bring it back.
When my dogs give back what they fetched, it gives me a sense of accomplishment as well. So teaching your dog how to get something and give it back is an enriching experience for you both.
When you teach your dog to fetch (the right way), you’re teaching them more than just how to play a game. It’s also about obedience, consistency, exercising them both physically and mentally, and teaching them to control their impulses. So you’re really not losing anything by adding this skill to your training commands collection.
What To Prepare When Teaching Your Dog To Fetch
So you’re all fired up to teach your dog to fetch, but what do you need?
Just a few things, all of which are probably already in your home!
Here’s what you need: a toy or two, both of which hold appeal to your dog. It shouldn’t be hard to look for these if your dog has a whole hoard of toys which they love (like mine does!). If your dog’s not much for toys, then try to find an item that they are interested in. This can be a ball, a Frisbee, a stick, or something else entirely. Feel free to experiment at the beginning!
Next, you’re going to need some treats to reward your dog’s good behavior with. As with all the commands we have talked about before, treats are a great motivator for dogs.
Finally, you need a long leash or a flexi-leash. It’s important for the returning part of fetching, as we all know how fond our dogs are of playing keep away when they’ve got something we want.
How to Teach Your Dog to Fetch Something
You start off by getting your dog to chase after the item in question. Some dogs do so my instinct, but some don’t. If your dog is of the latter kind, here’s what you can do: entice and encourage your dog to get an item on the ground. Once they grab it, reward with whatever motivator you have: treats, affection, praise, or a combination of any of those.
Once your dog grabs the item, take it from them after rewarding them.
Later on, you can start tossing the object to short and then longer distances. Immediately reward your dog once s/he goes after the item. Repeat and reinforce.
How to Teach Your Dog to Return Something
The next part of fetch is having the item returned to you. There are several ways you can go about this part. One is to call your dog back to you, and if they still have the object in their mouth, you can ask them to drop it in exchange for a treat.
Another way is to grab your dog’s attention with another toy. Entice your dog to return to you by showing them another toy that they will be interested in. This way, your dog gets used to the idea of going back to you after they have retrieved an item.
If your dog does go back to you but without the first item in their mouth, you can teach them to do so later by rewarding them only if they return the item to you.
What If My Dog Likes To Keep Away?
If your dog already has the item in their mouth and won’t give it to you because their idea of fun is for you to chase them to get it back, don’t chase after them. That defeats the purpose of fetch wherein your dog fetches something and gives it to you willingly, not you running after them saying “Give it!”
Here’s where the long leash comes in handy. Once your dog reaches the first item, call them to you by gently tugging on the leash. Reward your dog once they get close to you. At first, even without the item, but you can improve on that aspect over time.
What If My Dog Won’t Let Go?
This is my problem with one of my dogs. She likes to hold on to the item even after she’s gone back to me after fetching it, and her idea of fetch is when I tug on the toy to get it back from her.
When this happens, don’t force your dog. Instead, tell them to “Drop It” or “Give” in exchange for a treat. Chances are your dog will drop the toy because the treat is more appealing to them.
Or you can also use the second toy to distract them. Throw the second one, and once they chase after that, you can pick up the first toy and just use them in a cycle like that.
It works wonders, trust me.
As with our other training commands, constantly reinforce your dog’s fetching skills by doing it as much as you can. Don’t forget to keep training sessions short and sweet, around 5-15 minutes only.
Constantly change up the items that you play fetch with, so your dog won’t get tired of the items either. Plus, it teaches them that fetch can be played with a variety of items.
As your training progresses, you can start phasing out treats and only rewarding exceptional performances like prompt fetching and returning.
If you have any other questions about teaching your dog how to fetch, leave us a comment below!
Source: by Mary L. James, Ron Ayalon