Dogs have been bred for millennia to suit the wants and needs of their human owners. Through human endeavor, dogs have evolved into social animals. They are designed to please. Dog owners are inherently the dominant force in a dog’s life. They control the amount of food that the dog eats and control the access that the dog has to human attention and affection.
Owners don’t need to prove that they are “top dogs” through punishing behavior. They already are. With patience and understanding, dog owners can train their dogs with positive techniques, and the results will be satisfying to both the owner and the pet.
Starting on the Right Foot
The key to training dogs with positive techniques is to set firm boundaries initially, but these boundaries needn’t be enforced punitively to be effective. Training gives an owner the chance to bond with the new pet. When viewed as an opportunity to develop a relationship with the dog, rather than a lesson about domination, training can be a positive experience from the start.
Spending time with a new puppy or dog is essential to establishing rules and boundaries. Verbally praising the pet or showing physical affection when the right behavior is exhibited becomes easier when owners aren’t pressured for time. In these early days, it’s essential that the owner not merely give in to the dog’s demands.
Any occasion when a dog wants something, whether it’s a treat, access to the outdoors, or physical affection, is a training opportunity. It’s the perfect time to teach the five basic commands: sit, down, stay, come, and heel.
The Problem with Punishment
While owners can control dog behaviors with punishment, punishment rarely addresses the negative behavior’s fundamental causes. A dog may learn that he will be punished if he displays aggression, but being cowed into submission won’t solve the underlying aggression. Permanent change comes from addressing the reason that the dog is aggressive. This takes patience and understanding, but the result will be a happier pet.
One typical behavior that causes concern, for example, is excessive barking when the owners are away from home. This problem is rarely solved without addressing the separation anxiety that typically prompts the behavior. The dog must learn two lessons. First, they can be content and secure in the absence of the owner, and second, not to bark when alone. The first lesson may involve providing the dog with engaging objects that don’t require a human presence to be entertaining. The second may include teaching the dog the command “quiet.” Both lessons require an investment of time on the part of the owners.
A dog that rushes aggressively towards another dog while on a walk can be corrected through behavior modification. Most negative behavior has a “threshold,” a specific trigger point. Behavior modification works by keeping the dog below the threshold level. In this circumstance, training the dog not to tug at the leash under less stressful circumstances teaches the dog an alternate behavior. With patience, that new behavior will eventually kick in and override the malicious behavior when triggered.
When faced with a dog’s malicious behavior, determining the action’s underlying reasons is the key to making permanent changes. Taking a moment to view the world from the pet’s perspective can help identify the behavior’s root. Understanding the action makes it easier for the owner to use positive methods to help the dog change unwanted behaviors. Most problem behaviors can be addressed with patience, praise, and affection.
Three Mistakes When Training Your Dog
Training your dog is one of the most important things you can do as a dog owner for the furry little member of your family. Training your dog to act appropriately in society and when you have guests visit your home is your responsibility. You can enhance the public’s view of dogs, or you can significantly affect their opinion for the negative.
Unfortunately, all it takes to give someone a bad taste for this delightful animal is one bad-acting dog. Since you are concerned about training your dog, you have taken the first step in preparing a socially responsible dog – caring. By avoiding these training pitfalls with your four-legged fur child, you will create a good atmosphere for success while you train your pup. The additional benefit is that it will make training much easier for you.
Mistake 1. Training with Fear
Leave intimidation, aggression, and fear at the door when you begin training your pup. Like people, dogs respond to positive reinforcement. Their natural inclination is to please their owner, so they are looking and striving for your approval. When you begin a training relationship that focuses on fear or aggression when they do something wrong, you ask for trouble.
Dogs do one of two things when they are trained through intimidation, aggression, and fear. They either follow through on the act while being threatened and may not do as requested when you are not around or if the punishment is not present. The other concern with this type of training is that the acts can teach the dog also to act aggressively. Either way, it is much better to use positive reinforcement and good-natured love when training your dog.
Mistake 2. Not Having an Age-Appropriate Schedule
Besides having a consistent training schedule, training your dog for too long or too short is another pitfall of training. Depending on your dog’s age and attention span, it is essential to limit the amount of time spent on training. Young puppies and older dogs have less attention span and will need short training bursts multiple times a day for ideal training sessions, while adult dogs can withstand longer training times.
It is essential to train part of every day to stay consistent with your training massage – training for a day and then a week later will not accomplish a favorable training schedule. Repetition and duration are essential to the training formula. Pay attention to the signals your dog is giving you regarding their ability to pay attention and learn – base your training schedule off those signals.
Mistake 3. Not Varying Training Conditions
It is excellent to train your dog in the quiet and comfort found in your home and backyard and create a masterfully-skilled dog; it is essential to vary your dog’s training conditions once skills are learned. Take your dog to a park where there are many distractions and continue to work with your dog’s focus as you get him to perform those same skills amongst all the distractions present.