Dog Training

A responsible and loving dog owner will take the time to train their pet to be courteous and obedient. An essential part of any dog-human relationship is training. Many owners unknowingly use the psychological principles of operant conditioning to train their dogs. Operant conditioning is an analytical response to a given situation. If a dog owner reinforces behavior (good or bad), it will continue.

Giving a dog a treat or praise for staying, sitting or lying down is reinforcing positive behavior. The dog understands that if he obeys his owner”s command, he”ll receive a tasty treat. His behavior is fairly predictable. He knows that “If I sit, I”ll get a treat.” The dog eventually should be able to sit without being rewarded.

Many owners unknowingly reinforce negative behavior. If an owner doesn”t take the time to offer praise after positive behavior and only scolds after negative behavior, a dog will think the only way to get attention is to be naughty. Any behavior, reinforced in any way, is sure to continue. The key is to be aware and to reinforce positive behaviors and eliminate the negative.

Dog Training Basics

Here are some of the most common behavioral issues dog owners come across:

  • aggression, particularly towards strangers, other dogs or children
  • barking
  • biting
  • boundary and perimeter issues
  • chewing
  • dog won”t come on command
  • digging in yard/garden areas
  • housebreaking
  • inability to obediently walk on a leash.

It”s easy to focus on the negative, but typically a firm “no” command will be all you need in order to stop behavioral issues.

Basic Training Techniques

Experts agree that several basic points should be kept in mind when it comes to dog training. These tips will help both you and your new dog avoid potential misunderstandings:

  • Be prepared with the proper equipment and treats. You want to be ready to reward your pooch.
  • Correct poor behavior and praise good behavior immediately (preferably before a couple of seconds pass). Small treats and kibbles are effective in reinforcing your positive training message.
  • Invest in a good training book. You”ll refer to it often.
  • Keep training sessions short, no more than 15 minutes. Stop as soon as the dog appears to lose interest.
  • Start training as soon as your new dog comes home. Don”t let him get settled into bad habits.

If you have a pooch that simply won”t respond to dog training, you might consider taking him to obedience school.

Dog Training and Children

Your pup is certain to develop a close relationship with the children in your house. Kids will want to take part in the training, as it often makes them feel grown-up and responsible. If you would like to involve your children in dog training, be sure that you supervise them carefully. Watch for consistency and for mixed messages that the child may be sending.

A dog may feel confused if too many people take part in his training. One adult should be in charge of initial training, while other family members enforce the rules that are already established. If children are unable to follow the rules set down, you should put off letting them walk the dog on their own until your dog is fully trained and obedient.

Small children should never walk a dog by themselves. Training takes patience, and younger children can”t be expected to train a pet. Praise the child for helping by allowing him to walk on your right while your dog heels on the left. Don”t allow the child to feed the dog random treats during training, as they may inadvertently reward negative behaviors such as nipping or snatching treats out of their hands.

A little work goes a long way. A dog that is prepared for human companionship is almost always the happiest dog on the block. Once you establish a relationship that fosters love and respect, both you and your dog will be content.