Why Training Your Dog Is So Important & How To Start
By teaching your dog to respond to simple cues, dog training will make your life easier. Positive reinforcement training helps you and your dog get along better while teaching your dog how to behave appropriately.
Education is enjoyable. Remember the excitement you had while mastering a new skill? The same sentiments apply to dogs. Dog training is based on their desire to learn—and to do it with you, their favourite person in the world. We can teach our dogs valuable skills that they can use for the rest of their lives—the ability to feel safe and deal with the outside world healthily.
Although “obedience training” is a typical term for training, it is more about helping your dog learn than teaching them a particular behaviour. And the basis of that teaching connection is trust. According to studies, dogs and their dog parents build a trusting relationship through activities together, including exploring new places on walks, playing games and toys, meeting new people (both human and canine), and developing new skills.
The best training is positive reinforcement.
According to science, the most effective training strategy is positive reinforcement training (or, better yet, learning methods). Simply put, positive reinforcement involves rewarding your dog with a reinforcer (something they like) when they engage in the desired behaviour. Your dog is more likely to repeat a desirable behaviour (like “sit”) when you reward him immediately after he exhibits it. Should he? Voila! Acquired behaviour.
According to Zazie Todd, PhD, author of Wag: The Science of Making Your Dog Happy, the best ways to establish a positive relationship with your pet are positive reinforcement and positive reinforcement training. “Obedience” and “obedience training” often mean teaching a dog new skills and understanding basic cues. However, they can also mean using punishment or penalties to make a dog “obey” instead of teaching or encouraging a dog to make decisions on its own.
Using punishment is never advised, regardless of the age or breed of the dog. When exploring training resources, look for programs that explicitly utilize the term “positive reinforcement” and describe how they employ it. Unfortunately, some trainers promise to use positive reinforcement while using harsh methods.
Todd asserts that there is much out-of-date and inaccurate training material. When you yell at your dog as a punishment, your dog becomes frightened rather than dependable. Todd uses dog behaviour examples to show how punishment-based training methods may make dogs misbehave.
Training is more than teaching your dog a chore; it’s about helping them learn new things.
DIY training vs hiring a dog trainer
Your dog can teach new skills in several different ways. The amount of specialized attention you and your dog want, the location, and the regular fee of the individual trainer all affect how much training will cost. There are several excellent (and reasonably priced) books, videos, and websites that you can use to follow a do-it-yourself training schedule. If you need more help, signing up for a class or hiring a trainer may be best for you and your dog.
Consider these choices instead:
- You may train your dog independently at home by using training manuals, videos, or websites.
- You can take your dog to a public training class (which is also a great way to socialize with your pet). Lessons typically cost $100-200 for a six-or seven-week class, depending on the trainer and the location (1 hour per week).
- An online class training is an option. You will pay between $30 and $100 for each class or hour.
- A dog trainer can help you and your dog in private sessions. Depending on the trainer, the cost per hour could be anything from $75 to $300. Although it is typically the most expensive option, this one is sometimes the best for dogs who need a little extra attention.
- You can enrol your dog in train-and-play day camps that are positive-based at boarding or training facilities. The cost will vary greatly depending on the length of the training program, whether private sessions are included, and your dog’s age.
Advice: Using an expensive dog trainer or software is not always better. The dog training industry is unregulated, and the cost is not necessarily a reliable barometer of worth. Avoid anyone who advertises “results guaranteed” or “quick results ensured.” Practical dog training requires care. Effective dog training requires maintenance, and time is necessary for practical dog training. There are no programs or trainers for magic.
The benefit of training your dog is that you are also preparing yourself. You are learning positive ways to interact with your dog and develop a strong attachment. Like everything else, creating a solid bond with your dog takes time on both of your parts. Todd advises walking your dog every day. She says to make it an enjoyable experience.
What are the essential things that we should teach?
A crucial component of training is teaching your dog cues. Your dog will learn to pay attention to you and respond using these cues. Even though dogs are pretty intelligent and can pick up a wide range of skills (including how to square dance, jump through hoops, and pick up lambs), there are a few essential skills that they must have to learn.
Your Dog’s Name
Even though it would seem obvious, it’s common for dogs to either not truly recognize their name or respond to it in specific settings. As soon as you bring your dog home, build a firm understanding of its name. This can be accomplished by simply linking their name to a delicious treat. If they turn to face you after hearing your name, treat them! Never use their name when you are angry or believe they have done something wrong! They will learn from this that failing to respond to their name could lead to problems. Make using their name excessively as well. If you do that, they might decide to do it.
In basic training, teaching your dog to focus on you is a typical initial step. You must first teach your dog how to focus or pay attention whenever you wish to teach them a new skill. However, it’s also essential when you decide to join up for open training classes, go for walks, or hang out in the local park. In some ways, teaching your dog to comply with “Watch me” or “Look” commands is similar.
Come When Called.
It’s important, says Todd, for the dog to respond when called. And for the security of others, she adds. Dogs away from their owners for more than 24 hours suffer considerable trauma, as is well known. Make sure you build a solid understanding of the cue “coming.” If your dog doesn’t come when you call him the first one or two times, keep calling him. If you keep repeating the cue, your dog will eventually learn to come when you call their name.
The cues “leave it” and “drop it” is essential for Todd. She asserts that doing this will prevent your dog from consuming inappropriate items. The line “leave it” tells your dog to ignore any objects it finds on the floor or other surfaces. When your dog ignores anything unwanted (like your trash! ), you can reward him with a sweet treat. Ensure you don’t give them the pleasure or reward they were told to leave! Use a different reinforcer. Use another reinforcer for the object to be gone and another reinforcer.
Get comfortable sitting down.
Other fundamental skills like “sit” and “down” are beautiful tools to use regularly. The cue to teach your dog to settle (slow down) into a mat or rug will come from a good, firm “down” command. Additionally, it might help them focus during other educational sessions. You can also perform tricks using these core skills.
Manipulating the body
Todd says it’s essential to hold, pet, and frequently touch your pet’s paws and ears. To avoid their sensitivity to touch, especially on their feet or ears, your dog should be handled constantly on every part of their body, beginning when they are puppies.
Todd says it’s a life skill. It will be important when your dog is handled by a groomer or a veterinarian for a checkup. If you see that your dog has any issues with running or touching certain body areas, speak with a trainer or behaviorist who can teach your dog to appreciate being handled.
Food as a reward
Reinforcers, such as delicious snacks, are necessary for training with positive reinforcement, so you should always have them available. Because your dog enjoys them, they are frequently called “high-value” treats. Todd clarifies, “Small, little pieces of chicken are my go-to treats of choice. It is a step up from their regular kibble.
Dogs are typically motivated by food, though some cues could call for a special treat. Todd suggests increasing the treat component while training a behaviour, like getting a dog to come when called.