November 1, 2023
A Beginner’s Guide to Training Your Canine Companion
Dog training is a crucial aspect of owning a pet. It not only ensures their safety but also fosters a strong bond between you and your furry companion. In a sense, it is a way of communicating with your pooch and engaging with them on a deeper level. But it also makes them better behaved and ensures a good vibe between you and your best friend. Where to start though? This comprehensive guide aims to provide beginners with the necessary knowledge and actionable steps to embark on this rewarding journey.
- Ideal Dog Breeds for Training
First let’s start with your dog’s breed, which factors into how successful your training efforts are. The fact is that some breeds are more suited to training than others and will respond more quickly to which you team them.
Breeds known for their trainability include:
- Border Collies: Known for their intelligence and eagerness to learn. There’s a reason they make great sheep herders!
- Poodles: Highly intelligent and trainable, with a knack for obedience.
- Labrador Retrievers: Friendly and eager to please, making them receptive to training.
Some other breeds are known for being more stubborn and may prove more difficult to train. These include smaller dog breeds for the most part. In some cases, these dog breeds may may require the help of an expert trainer.
- Bulldogs: Can be stubborn to a fault at times! This can require a patient and consistent trainer.
- Fox terrier: Energetic and requiring a lot of stimulation, they can be challenging for a first-time dog owner.
- Jack Russell: Very high-energy and can be difficult to manage without the right training approach.
Each breed has unique traits, and understanding these can help tailor your training approach. We should mention that dogs within any breed can exhibit a wide range of temperaments and behaviors. Much like human beings, every dog is an individual! So it’s not a strict rule, but rather a general tendency.
- When to get started
Training your dog should ideally start while they are still a puppy, as this is when they are most receptive and adaptable to learning new behaviours and commands. However, the training approach will vary depending on the dog’s age. Here’s a breakdown:
- Puppyhood (8 to 12 weeks old):
- Basic training can begin as early as 8 weeks old.
- Socialization is crucial at this stage; expose your puppy to various people, animals, and environments in a controlled and positive manner.
- Adolescence (6 to 18 months old):
- Continue with basic training and socialization.
- This age can be challenging as dogs go through a “teenage” phase where they may test boundaries.
- Adulthood (18 months and older):
- It’s never too late to train a dog, although it might take more time and patience.
- If you’ve adopted an adult dog, start with basic obedience training and socialization as needed.
- Senior Dogs:
- Training can help keep a senior dog’s mind sharp.
- Focus on maintaining existing training and making any necessary adjustments to accommodate the dog’s physical capabilities.
- Time and Regularity
Consistency is paramount in dog training. It’s advisable to:
- Set aside specific times each day for training, keeping sessions short but engaging, ideally 5-10 minutes for puppies and up to 15 minutes for adult dogs.
- Maintain a routine, as dogs thrive on consistency which helps in better learning and retention.
- Keep training sessions short and fun to maintain your dog’s interest.
This can require persistence and discipline on the dog owner’s end as well. It’s easy to get dismayed when you don’t see results straightaway but stick with the program and give you dog time to but if you’re consistently finding the time everyday eventually you should see things improve.
- Basic Training Commands
Mastering the basics is crucial for your dog’s safety and obedience. Here are steps to teach some fundamental commands:
- Sit: Hold a treat close to your dog’s nose, move your hand up, allowing its head to follow the treat and causing its bottom to lower. Once in the sitting position, say “Sit,” give the treat, and share affection.
- Stay: Ask your dog to sit, open the palm of your hand in front of you, say “Stay.” Take a step back and if your dog stays, reward them with a treat and affection.
Repeat these exercises daily, gradually increasing the difficulty as your dog improves.
- A Word on Positivity
Positive reinforcement should be the cornerstone of you training approach. When your dog performs the desired behavior or command, reward them with something they love, like treats, praise, or playtime.
This encourages them to repeat the behaviour and avoids the use of punishment such as yelling, physical force, or harsh corrections which can scare your dog and potentially lead to aggression or anxiety. Instead, it focuses on teaching desired behaviours and redirecting unwanted behaviours. Research has shown that results are significantly better with this strategy.
- Training Tools
Keep in mind that having the right tools with you can be a big help in your training efforts. Some of these include:
- Clickers: A clicker can be used to mark the desired behaviour.
- Treats: Treats are great for reinforcement but choose healthy options.
- Leashes: A good leash can provide control during training.
- Prioritise your dog’s general health and wellbeing
A happy boy is a good boy! Socialisation and exercise are crucial for a well-behaved dog and will make your pooch much more receptive to your training. Ensure your dog:
- Meets other dogs and people to promote good behaviour and adaptability.
- Receives plenty of exercise to burn off excess energy which can otherwise lead to destructive behaviour.
By following this Beginner’s Guide to Training Your Canine Companion, you’re taking the first step towards a well-behaved and happy canine companion. With patience, consistency, and the right approach, you’ll enjoy a harmonious and enjoyable life with your furry friend.