Training is an important part of any dog’s life. It’s not a chore for dogs, they enjoy the mental stimulation.
If you combine training with exercise your dog will be getting physical and mental benefits and that leads to a happy well-behaved dog.
If your training is reward based your dog will be even more eager to learn. Training to dogs is like playtime as they get to do fun games and spend time with you.
Repeat, Reward and Reinforce
When you are training your dog remember this phrase. It’s the crux of all training.
Repeat – By repeating things it helps your puppy or dog understand exactly what you want them to do. This will help the dog learn what’s right and what’s wrong.
Reward – Rewarding your dog is a great way to encourage good behaviour. Use a combination of food treats, toy treats, praise and affection.
Reinforce – Once you have rewarded try it again, dog training takes a lot of patience but it pays off in the long run. If you keep going back to the lesson and reinforcing it your dog is less likely to forget it.
Why train a dog?
Dogs are pack animals and will try to dominate you unless you show them right from the offset that you are in charge.
You make the rules and the dog obeys them.
The dog needs consistency so everyone in your household should be with the programme! All stick to the same training methods, the same words as commands and the same rewards. It’ll make it easier for the dog.
Basic dog behaviour commands
Your dog needs to understand basic dog commands. They can’t speak our language so need to be taught what each commands actually means.
They need to know:
This is where repeat, reward, reinforce comes into its own. When they do well in training give them a dog treat or time to play with a favourite toy. That way they are more likely to remember it next time.
A dog needs to know its own name before it will come to you so keep using it. At the start, call them all the time just to get them used to responding to their name.
How to train a dog to sit
Hold a treat near your dog’s nose. Lift your hand up and back, so they have to raise their head to follow your fingers. Their bottom will automatically go down, and when it does say “Good girl” or “Good Boy” and give the dog a reward. Your dog will quickly learn to associate the word “Sit” with the action.
As the dog picks this up only give the treat after they’ve actually sat down.
How to train a dog to lie down
Training a dog to lie down can get you out of all sorts of trouble. It gives you control over them and means they hopefully won’t run off, chase a rabbit or jump up.
Start with your dog in a “Sit” position, say “Down” and hold a treat in your fingers in front of your dog’s nose. Then move it to the floor between their paws and put your hand over it. Your dog’s head will bend and eventually they’ll be lying on the floor as they try to reach it. As soon as they go down praise them and let them have the treat.
After they’ve mastered it using this method, stand up straight, hold the treat behind your back, and say “Down”. It may take a while but be patient at some point he’ll try lying down to see if he gets the reward.
How to train a dog to stay
Once your dog has mastered the sit and down commands you can extend them to include staying.
Ask your dog to “Sit” or “Down” then, instead of giving the reward straight away, wait for a few seconds and say “Stay” move a few paces away repeating “Stay” wait for a few seconds and if the dog stays walk back and reward them. If your dog doesn’t “Stay” don’t give the reward.
How to train a dog to come
Coming when called is an important skill for any dog to have. If a dog masters it they’ll be trusted off the lead more often. Whenever your dog comes to you, whether you’ve called them or not, give them praise and perhaps a treat too so they know it’s always good to keep checking in with you.
Stand about 5 metres from your dog call their name and say “Come!” and show him you have food or a toy. As they take a step towards you praise them and give them a treat. Gradually lengthen the distance your dog has to come to you.
Never tell your dog off or punish them even if it takes them ages to come to you as it’ll put them off returning next time you call.
You may like to try clicker training . A clicker is a plastic box that you keep in the palm on your hand and when pressed with your thumb makes a clicking sound.
You can click the box when you give a reward so the dog gets tuned in to the sound of the click and associates it with a reward.
Dog obedience classes
Dog training courses are a great way to have the basics reinforced and to pick up tips from the experts.