If you have just welcomed a new dog into your family (congratulations!), you’ll probably be wanting to do some basic dog training. It’s useful if your dog will sit when they’re asked to or come when they’re called, for example. However, dog training isn’t just about good behaviour, important though that is. Done right, training can be a rewarding experience for both you and your new furry friend.
Learning should be fun
Short training sessions work best
Rewards are important
Patience and consistency go a long way
There’s a general consensus among vets that all training should be based around positive rewards. Put simply this is about teaching your dog that if they do something you want them to, they will get something they like in return. This – unsurprisingly! – leads to the desired behaviour being repeated.
Rewards don’t just mean treats, and can include praise, getting a favourite toy or playing a game. However, it’s worth noting that treats are particularly motivating to dogs! If you do use them, make sure they’re healthy ones. PEDIGREE™ has a range of treats that can help your training journey – they are low in fat and contain Omega 3, Vitamin E and calcium. Our Tasty Mini range are the perfect training treats and come in three great flavours: Beef & Cheese, Beef & Poultry and Chicken & Duck.
Successful training can be a joy for both teacher and student and even feel like a game. It’s also a great way to bond with your dog.
It isn’t a good idea to punish your dog, whether in training or in everyday life. All punishing a dog does is teach them to be scared of you, and it may even teach your dog to be aggressive.
It’s much more productive to concentrate on rewarding good behaviour and ignoring less desirable behaviour. Of course, some unwanted behaviour can’t be ignored, in which case it’s a matter of teaching your furry friend to do something else instead. For example, if you have a dog who jumps up at people, you can teach them to sit when they meet someone and offer treats and praise every time this happens.
To sit when asked
To lie down when asked
To come when they’re called
To walk to heel
The word ‘off’
The word ‘no’
These core skills will ensure a safe and well-behaved pooch in most situations. A lot of trainers start with teaching dogs to sit as many of them pick this up quickly and easily.
You’ve heard the expression ‘Practise makes perfect’, right? Well, this is a great thing to have in mind when you are training a dog. Keep what you’re asking of your dog clear and consistent, offer lots of praise and be patient.
When you first start teaching your furry friend something new, it’s a good idea to eliminate as many distractions as possible, including new sights, smells, noises and people. That way you have much more chance of getting your dog’s full attention.
Short training sessions of about 5 -10 mins help to keep things fun and stop your dog from feeling overwhelmed. If you sense your dog is getting bored during a training session, it’s best to stop.
Lots of dog owners have had success clicker training. It’s a positive training method based on rewarding your furry friend with a click and a treat when they behave in a way you’d like them to. Advocates say it’s fun for both owner and dog. Think it might work for you? Check out How to clicker train your dog.
Housetraining your dog or puppy takes patience, commitment and consistency. It’s a good idea to establish a routine and take your dog out frequently (at least every two hours) and immediately after a nap or eating and drinking (when they’re more likely to need to go to the toilet). There is lots more detailed advice in How to housetrain your dog.
Just like us, dogs learn at different rates so it’s important you let your canine companion ‘get it’ in their own time. It’s also best not to try to do too much in each session, and in the beginning you are certainly more likely to have success if you stick to one new skill per training session.
In the spirit of being positive, if you can end each training session with something your dog knows, this can do wonders for their confidence (and yours!).
Looking for more training advice? Why not check out How to get your dog to sit and How to get your dog to come when called.
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