They don’t call dogs “man’s/woman’s best friend” for nothing. Sharing your life with a dog can be an incredibly meaningful experience, but when that dog jumps up on all your guests, runs away at a moment’s notice, or destroys your brand new couch and favorite pair of shoes, that special bond can experience some strain.
That’s where dog training basics come in!
The Many Benefits
The benefits of dog training go far beyond having a dog who can perform tricks on command. A dog who is easily managed is safer around family, friends, and other pets, and is less likely to injure themselves than a dog who isn’t trained. A well-trained dog is also a pleasure to be around, and can be included in more activities and adventures with the family, leading to increased happiness and bonding overall.
Where to Begin?
As wonderful as it can be to imagine having one of those perfectly trained dogs who can open the refrigerator and get you a snack (without eating it themselves), those dogs are in the minority. For most of us, having a dog who can listen to and comply with basic commands is a worthwhile and reasonable goal. Aim to teach your dog these basics, knowing that you can always add on from there if you see fit:
- Drop it
Top 5 Dog Training Basics
- Start ‘em young. Ideally, a dog should be trained as a puppy. Around the age of 12 weeks is best, but dogs of any age are capable of learning basic obedience and more.
- Consistency is key. Make sure that everyone in the household is on the same page, as far as training style, rewards, keywords, etc. Striving to keep your pet’s mealtimes, walks, playtimes, and training times the same each day will improve your outcome.
- Positive reinforcement is your friend. Rewarding your dog for good behaviors is much more effective than punishing undesirable ones. Small treats and/or praise work well. Reward your dog for good manners, even when you aren’t training, as it will increase the chances of the behaviors becoming ingrained.
- Keep calm and train on. It can be easy to get upset or overreact when our dog does something we don’t like, but it’s important to remember that, just like us, dogs aren’t perfect. They get tired, have bad days, or simply don’t want to listen sometimes. Redirect your dog by asking them to do something that’s easy for them, and reward them after, or simply try again later.
- Don’t be afraid to ask for help. There’s no shame in needing professional help when it comes to dog training! A humane obedience class geared toward your dog’s age and stage in life can be an enormous boost, and give you and your dog the confidence you need to move forward.
Whether you have recently adopted a puppy, or have an older dog in need of help, we encourage you to put in the time and effort to train them. The lifelong bond and enjoyment of each other’s company will be well worth the effort!