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How to Train a Dog

Training a dog takes a lot of time and patience. Every dog can be trained, however, some learn a lot faster and some require going the extra mile. If a dog learns slowly it doesn’t mean it lacks intelligence, it’s just that the dog is either more stubborn or wrong training techniques are being used.

Before the training starts, every owner has to manage his/her own expectations and mood. Remember that not all training days will be productive so when that happens, do not take it on the dog. Each dog reacts the best when the owner constantly encourages him in a calm mood.

While our blog’s mascot is a Cavalier King Charles Spaniel, these tips apply to any breed.

Training Principles

Dogs do not understand long-term causes and subsequent effect. They learn momentarily. Praises and rewards must be given within 2 seconds are the dog shows the desired behavior. For example, when you say the word ‘sit’ and the pooch sits – give him his favorite treat immediately. If you prolong the reward he will not associate the action with the treat. The same goes for giving praise. It’s always good to start with treats as rewards because the dog will certainly appreciate them more. Once a certain command is well established you need to repeat it frequently, except that the more consistent it becomes the less the need for giving treats becomes.

What makes the training process a lot easier is using clickers. A clicker is also a form of praise which can be delivered a lot faster than giving a treat for example. Clicker training reinforces positive behavior fast enough and increases the dog’s learning speed. At first, the dog will have no idea what the clicker is for. But soon after when you use both a clicking sound and a treat after a positive action dogs learn that a ‘click’ is something they can be happy for.

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When Should You Start Training a Dog?

Young puppies have short attention spans but you can expect them to begin to learn simple obedience commands such as “sit,” “down,” and “stay,” as young as 7 to 8 weeks of age. Formal dog training has traditionally been delayed until 6 months of age. Actually, this juvenile stage is a very poor time to start.

How Do I Teach My Dog Basic Commands?

You want to teach your dog how to lie down. When the dog lies down the owner must click the device, and immediately offer a treat. Whenever the action is repeated you must make the clicking sound and give a treat. Soon enough choose a command name and use it whenever you use the clicker device.

You must be consistent if you want to succeed in achieving proper training. For example, if you want to teach your dog not to jump on people, you need to make sure everyone else in the house that they shouldn’t let the dog jump on them as this will undermine all progress you made.

Generally, you will mostly use treats when the training begins so it’s better for the dog to be hungry. Don’t feed him a few hours before the training as dogs appreciate the treats more on an empty stomach. You can use commercial treats for the easier commands, but if you want to teach a more difficult one, prepare ‘high value’ snack such as chicken breast chunks, dried liver or turkey slices.

Even when training session didn’t go well, remember to end it on a positive note because the last thing the dog will remember is your love and praise for him.

Sit

The easiest command to teach a dog is how to sit. Get a treat in your hand and place the hand close to the dog’s nose. Slowly start moving your hand up which will make the dog’s bottom lower. Once he is in a sitting position, say the command and give him the treat.

Come

If you want to teach your dog to come to you when you ask him put use a collar and a leash. Gently pull the leash while being down on his level and sat the word ‘come’. Once the dog gets to you award him with a treat.

Down

For the ‘down’ command you need to use a very good smelling treat. Hold the treat in your hand and let the dog smell it. Afterwards, move your hand to the floor and slide it along the ground in front of the dog. When the dog lies down, say the command, give the treat and share affection.

Stay

After you have taught your dog to sit it’s time to introduce a new command. When the dog is in a sitting position after you asked him to, open your palm, say the word ‘stay’ and take a few steps back. If he obeys give him the treat.

Leave it

The command ‘leave it’ will keep the dog safe from his own curiosity. Get treats in both hands and show him an enclosed fist with the chewable inside.

Say ‘leave it’ and let him bark, sniff or paw in order to get it. You need to ignore the behaviors and once the dog stops open the other hand and give him the treat.

Remember to repeat the commands frequently in order to establish firm training.

Related:

How to Train Your Puppy

How to Potty Train a Puppy

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