Obedience Training For Your Dog
Every experience your dog or puppy has can be a learning opportunity. Obedience training may begin with learning to sit and stay, but it truly is a an on-going activity for your dog. He is always learning and picking up cues from you, without you knowing it! However, we all have to start somewhere and basic commands can help teach your dog how to learn!
1. Shaping Behavior
Shaping your dog’s behavior while training is the easiest and most common way to train basic skills. You help guide your dog, step by step, to reach the end result. Clicker training is often used for this, but it is most certainly not required. You can use the click of a clicker to mark the wanted behavior and let your pup know that a reward is on the way. However, you can also use the verbal cue “Yep!” instead of a click. It all depends on individual choice.
Shaping a behavior is easy. You can use a lure, typically a piece of food or toy, to help bring your pet into the proper position such as sit or lie down, then reward when it is achieved. For example, if you are training your puppy to sit, hold a bite of food in your closed fist directly above his nose. It should not be so high as to make him jump up to it, he can touch his nose to your fist if he wants but cannot reach the food. Now, push your fist forward towards his bottom. As you move your hand straight back, your pup will most likely bring his butt to the floor in the sit position. The moment that happens you can say “Yep!” or click your clicker and immediately reward the wanted behavior. Repeat until he knows exactly what you’re asking for!
2. Timing Counts
If you reward too late, you may have missed the window. Your dog will not understand what behavior he is being rewarded for. This is why you use the “Yep!” cue or a click of the clicker. It marks the exact wanted behavior as your dog performs it so you can get the reward ready for him.
If you miss the timing once or twice, don’t fret too much. You’ll get the hang of it! But don’t let it become a habit as that could seriously set back your dog’s training and confuse him more.
3. Forget Punishment
Obedience training may be primarily basic commands, but your dog or puppy is bound to make a lot of mistakes. These mistakes are what will help him learn what is and not acceptable while living with a human family. Set boundaries, prevent accidents before they can happen to develop good habits in your furry friend. When a mistake does happen, think twice before attempting to punish your dog.
Dogs do not learn well through punishment. If he potties on the floor, quickly clean it up and pay closer attention to your dog next time. If he chews up your shoes while you’re gone, remember to either crate or contain him and provide proper chew toys next time. Punishing your dog will not teach him what he did was wrong, but only to avoid you while you’re angry. The worst part, though, is that punishment can dramatically hurt your bond with your dog.
4. Professionals Are There
When it doubt, always contact a professional. Don’t be afraid of asking for help! Private trainers can come to your home and help you with training problems or you can attend an obedience class. Professionals are there to help you and your pup live a better and more enriching life together.