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Become an expert: training a dog

Two Australian shepherd training advice

How to train your dog like a pro?

© Shutterstock

Training your dog is a magnificent way to strengthen the relationship between you and your four-legged friend. Learn all about it in this pet parent guide!

By Daniel Mar

Usually, dogs are eager to learn new things! Dogs learn every minute of their lives, so you should exploit this and make it work in your favour!

You should start training your pet when he is still just a puppy. It is important that your dog understand how you’d like him to behave and why it’s in his best interest to behave in this way.

This guide will give you some great tips about dog training.

Understand your pet

Sometimes, dog owners complain that their dogs don’t listen to them. This is a terrible misconception and mistake. You should know that dogs don’t speak your language. So imagine how they feel when someone is constantly chattering in a foreign language. Dogs communicate with humans in a very particular way. Understanding this is vital in order to learn how to train a dog.

That is why to communicate clearly with your dog, you need to understand how he learns. Largely, dogs learn through the immediate consequence of their behaviour. The nature of those consequences determines how they’ll behave in the future. For example, if a specific behaviour results in a food reward or a game of fetch, your dog will most likely repeat that behaviour.

Use positive reinforcement

There are training methods that use punishment to teach behaviours: yanking at the leash to stop a dog from pulling, or scolding to stop a dog from whining, for example. However, these methods teach fear and can easily cause anxiety, which leads to even more inappropriate behaviour. Moreover, punishment doesn’t really teach your dog what you want from them.

Other methods focus on teaching dogs what you do want them to do. This method is usually effective and enjoyable for both you and your dog. You can use treats, play and fuss to reward your dog’s good behaviours.

Dog breeds training
Who's ready for their lesson? ©Shutterstock

Bottom line: if you can teach your dog polite manners without intimidating or hurting him, why not do it? It's always better to avoid punishing him for all the things you don’t want him to do and concentrate instead on teaching your dog what you do want him to do. Furthermore, when your dog does something you like, reward him with something that he loves. You will see the results of your work in no time!

How to train a dog? 5 Amazing training tips

Tip 1: Maintain a positive attitude

The first thing to remember is that training your dog isn’t always easy. But you shouldn’t feel discouraged. Just keep things realistic. There will be times when the teaching process will frustrate you. In these moments, the way you talk to your dog will make all the difference in the world. Just be patient and try to remain calm. Not only will you as the trainer benefit from this, but your dog will enjoy your low-stress attitude, and learn faster as a result!

Tip 2: Remember dogs are not born understanding English

The first time you bring a puppy home, he will have no idea what any English word means. Don’t expect him to understand what “no” or “yes” mean. Pet parents shouldn’t expect their dogs to understand everything they say without having trained them first.

Tip 3: Keep sessions short and on a daily basis

Training isn’t a one-time thing. If you think that you can spend the whole weekend teaching your dog how to sit, and expect that he will learn how to do this within two days, you are wrong. Training in this way will ‘overload’ your dog. Thus, it will not have a considerable effect on your dog’s long-term obedience, since he is unlikely to retain any information. Instead, have short training sessions and carry them out every day. By keeping them short, your dog will be eager to learn and training sessions will be much more productive!

Tip 4: Train with high-value treats

It’s amazing how much dogs are willing to work for just a few treats. In case you didn’t know, food rewards are highly efficient when training a dog! When the lesson is especially difficult, you need to bring out the heavy weaponry (e.g. chicken breast, sweet potato, banana, etc.). Try to get soft treats for every day training so you don’t have to wait for your pet to chew before carrying on with your lesson.

Treat in hand with Golden Retriever behind
Treat your dog while training ©Shutterstock

Tip 5: Be patient

Training takes time and effort. That is why you need to be patient and enjoy it. Eventually, the hard work will pay off. Always remember that with patience and persistence, both of you can accomplish great things.

Now you know how to train a dog! You are ready to teach your dog some discipline! Keep these tips in mind and good luck!