Whether your dog is a purebred puppy freshly weaned from its mother to an aged curbstone setter, there are ways to utilise dog training for your beloved dog in a manner that befits both the dog and the owner.
Some common dog training methods revolve around just voice commands, others have voice and clicker commands. There are also methods revolving around choker chains or prong collars. There are problems with the latter two as they can be used ineffectively or even worse cause undue pain to the dog which is being trained.
So how do you tell when it’s the right time to start training your dog? Which method really is better suited for training? How do you train your dog to obey? Can an old dog really learn new tricks? These common questions will be answered.
When is the right time to start dog training your dog?
The correct answer to this is: now. It is easier to train your puppy during its imprint period than it is to train them afterwards. It used to be thought that the best time to start dog training a dog was around the 6-month mark, but by then it would indeed be rather difficult to unlearn bad behaviours.
Puppies can be trained as soon as you bring them home, provided that you are willing to use a gentler style of dog training. The key to getting the desired result comes from gaining their complete attention and using it.
Puppies can learn the basic foundations when their owners are willing to be patient. Using a treat to initially get the desired response is generally the preferred method. Holding the treat in front of the puppy and then slowly backing away while giving your command for ‘sit’ should have the puppy backing into a sitting composure. Showing them the treat and moving it towards the floor while giving your command for down should have the puppy going into a prone position.
After the desired action has been given, always reward your puppy with a treat, praise, and a rub. After the desired action has been achieved multiple times, remove the treat from the equation; simply by using the command and then the reward of vocal praise and a rub. For situations like house breaking, it would be recommended that you carry the treats with you and use those as rewards for going outside. To achieve this, you will need to be outside with them and watch when they do go.
Be sparing in your use of the command, as multiple commands can give your puppy the idea that it is ok to wait a while before it actually performs the command. Dog training should not be held to a rigorous schedule either, instead it should amount to close to 15 minutes a day broken up throughout the day. This is also a great way to introduce the lead for your puppy, as walks outdoors are inevitable.
But not everyone gets the cute and cuddly dogs at the shelter, or as a stray. Finding and owning a dog that has made it to the in-between stage of their lives are termed adolescent dogs. Dog training an adolescent dog can be much like training a teenager. Responses learned as a puppy usually carry over into adolescence and then adulthood, unless corrective action is taken.
Having gotten a dog during their adolescence and then starting dog training can be problematic. The use of treats may very well be a great start, but there should be more vocal and physical rewards involved than just food treats. There should be a lot of emphasis placed on getting the dog as much proper social interactions as possible.
Rewarding appropriate behaviour becomes more prevalent, mainly because more work is involved in training adolescent dogs. A slower pace and a more rigorous schedule is adhered to; but the same tactics work. If you have been training your puppy since you got it home, then you won’t face as many problematic situations. However, your training should increase in difficulty, more introductions to people, other animals; more social events or time off the leash.
After adolescence, when dogs reach full maturity; it is thought that you cannot teach dogs anymore; however, that is not true. It is quite time consuming, however you can teach an old dog new tricks. It just takes a little more effort and a little more time.
However, special attention should be paid to the age of the dog though. Their physical limitations may stop them from running gauntlets, however they can be taught to sit, lay down, and stay with a little time and effort.
When to Call a Dog Behaviourist?
It is often thought that when a dog starts misbehaving it’s time to call a dog trainer. This is in fact the wrong thing to do. The reason for this is because trainers equal teachers. You wouldn’t send your child who is misbehaving to the local gym would you?
Dog behaviourists tackle the behaviour problems of dogs in a variety of situations. If you feel that you are ill equipped to handle a badly behaved dog, please contact a dog behaviourist to help you out. Common problems deemed to be behavioural in nature would be resource guarding and separation anxiety.
Separation anxiety includes symptoms such as aggression, excessive barking, chewing, biting and or nipping, excessive digging, and soiling the house. Treating these problematic scenarios are not going to happen overnight. Some of the symptoms for separation anxiety can be self-treated through dog training, if you are willing to devote some time to it.
In some cases, it is just practicing leaving. You can get ready to leave and abruptly sitting down while not giving your beloved dog attention. Continue practicing this until the dog no longer pays attention to you before moving onto the next step. Circumstance may dictate how well you can achieve the next step of getting ready to leave and having the door open. Again, repeat this step until the dog no longer pays attention to you.
The next step would be a series of exercising just being on the opposite side of a closed door and slowly making it to quick jaunts of about 10-20 minutes before moving into the several hour marks. Slowly build up to your work day if and where possible. It will take time and some adjustment for both you and your dog.
Aggressive behaviour on the other hand is a very serious problem. There are several reasons which could be the source of your dog’s problem. It can be because of being kennel raised where interactions between humans and other dogs are generally minimal. Or the root cause can be something as simple as being the product of inbreeding. Or, it could come down to the breed of the dog, as the temperament of some breeds like the Doberman or Akitas are more prone to aggression. Finally, it could come down to the living environment of the dog in question. Excessive punishments, isolation, and being spoiled can be contributing factors for aggression.
This isn’t to say that you are going to be stuck with a mean-spirited dog. As with anything, prevention can play a large role in reducing the risk of having an aggressive dog. Be mindful of prior circumstances if at all possible. If you know the history of the dog, there are methods than can be applied to try and make for a comfortable life for the dog and their human.
To start with, matching the correct breed to the correct owner goes a long way. A mild or meek mannered human shouldn’t own a breed of dog that has a tendency to be aggressive. Whenever possible, it is best to obtain a puppy and spay or neuter them prior to sexual maturity. Be plentiful with social visits and never use punishment for bad behaviour.
Treating this particular behavioural problem can be rather tricky and it is highly recommended that you seek the aid of a dog behaviourist. If you cannot remember anything else, the dog’s environment plus their genes makes up their temperament. Should the dog ever achieve a dominant status within a family, no amount of any kind of punishment can correct the behaviour of a dominant dog.
At best, a person can have the dog revert into a submissive-aggressive or a defensive-aggressive animal. At worst, it becomes a biting animal in which case a humane euthanisation might be the kindest treatment for them.
When to seek a Dog Trainer?
Getting involved with a dog trainer and dog training is always a good idea, especially when there will be other people there with you. While most people may just want a docile dog who responds to commands given, some may want more than just a sit, stay, lay down dog. There are also those who would rather have dogs specially trained for a particular job around their homes or businesses.
There are two typical kinds of training, out of house and residential dog training. The out of house asks that you and your dog learn together in a structured setting. Residential dog training is done with the owner’s absence, such as them going out on a holiday. There are different benefits with each however, there will always be room to learn and grow with your dog.
Dog training done in a group offers a lot of benefits, as there are social interactions and a dog can learn proper behaviour. Their humans can also learn what it will take to train a good dog, and how they can best train their breed of dog. It also builds and strengthens the bond between owners and their pets.
Residential dog training is usually where the trainer takes the dog to their facility to train your dog without you. This can be a great way to start dog training your puppy with basic good behaviour patterns. However, there may be an adjustment period for you and the dog upon return. This period is for when you display your status in the home, and for the dog to learn their place in the home. Being slow in your commands and firm in your rewards and reward denials is tantamount.
Then you must consider the type of dog training your dog may need, as well as the type of training you want. There is a difference between training a guard dog than there is in training a blind seeing eye dog. Certain breeds lend themselves well to either position, like a German Shepard, but you wouldn’t expect a Pekinese to do them. A Jack Russell will require more physical activity than a Pug, so keep in mind what it is that you want.
When looking for a trainer, always ask about their methods for dog training. When they say that they can take the dog and return them to you all ready for your commands, then you have found the wrong trainer. The same applies when questioned about disciplining methods. Having a dog who obeys the voice commands of the trainer does not aid you as the owner; nor does a dog who may be abused through excessive punishments. If you are not comfortable at any time with the trainer, do not use them.[/vc_column_text][divider line_type=”No Line” custom_height=”50″][image_with_animation image_url=”503″ alignment=”center” animation=”Fade In” box_shadow=”none” max_width=”100%”][divider line_type=”No Line” custom_height=”50″][vc_column_text]
How to Find a Reputable Behaviourist or Trainer
Finding a reputable dog behaviourist or dog trainer isn’t always as simple as looking in the phone book or online or even asking your vet. Everyone claims that they are the best at what they do. But there is a silver lining; your fellow dog owners may be able to offer valuable insights for your list of potentials.
Look for the proper accreditation for your area. The RSPCA (Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals) lists that behaviourists should be have a CCAB (Certified Clinical Animal Behaviourist) from the ASAB (Association for the Study of Animal Behaviour) or that the behaviourist is a member in good standing with the APBC (Association of Pet Behaviour Counsellors).
Likewise, the RSPCA lists that trainers be a member of the APDT (Association of Pet Dog Trainers). This is because there is a standard to these certifications. Because of these standards, you are likely to be able to find the most qualified people to help you with your dog’s behavioural problems.
However, it is always critical to look at the classes taught by dog behaviourists and dog trainers. The focus should be the ambient environment and the dogs themselves. If there is too much yelling or the dogs seem to be skittish or cowering, it is not the place for you and your dog. These are key indicators of stressed dogs and high punishment training.
Wrapping it Up
As you can see there is a lot that goes into properly dog training your pooch. Circumstances can play a very large role in how to train your dog for the rules of your house. Be wary of where you get your pooch as there are still puppy mills that can be a huge underlying problem down the road for you.
Be plentiful with your vocal and physical rewards while training your dog, the use of treats should be present but should never be the only method of getting a desired action. Self-training activities should never be strict and rigorous, rather they should be practiced multiple times a day throughout the day. It does take time to properly train your dog.
Finding and using a behaviourist can be helpful in dealing with separation anxiety and with some aggression problems. They can help you discover what the underlying problem is and how to correct it if it is possible. Inbreeding at puppy mills can’t be solved, but how to get your dog to relax while you’re away can be.
Finding and using a trainer can help strengthen your bond with your dog as well as give the dog their much-needed social interactions. The earlier that you start your training; either at home or with a trainer, the better. Look for trainers who specialise in the type of training that you want, or that know how to train the breed of dog you have. Always practice with your dog the skills your trainer has started laying out, and do not resort to the use of punishment.
While dogs may not be human, understanding what their needs and abilities are is better than going into situations blind. The key is to keep at it, keep practicing with your dog the behaviours you would like them to exhibit. Try and get the right breed of dog for you and your needs. Be mindful of where you are getting your dogs as well; because their history may turn into your misery down the road.