New dog parents are commonly surprised by the difficulty involved in training. Of course, some breeds as well as individual dogs are more trainable than others, but even dogs that are a breed which is considered to be very receptive to training can struggle to learn key commands and behaviors. Nevertheless, every dog has the capacity to be well-trained. If you are adding a new dog to your family, it is important that you allocate adequate time and attention to his or her training regimen. Here are some key principles of an effective training program that can help dogs reach their full training potential.
Excessive Punishment Can Be Extremely Harmful
Virtually all modern training ideologies are firmly rooted in the tenant that positive reinforcement deals far better results than punishments. In years past, abusive treatment of dogs was normalized in training programs. Puppies who had trouble learning new concepts or following commands consistently were physically punished, yelled at, or unreasonably confined. This type of treatment can cause lasting psychological damage that makes dogs fearful and aggressive.
Unfortunately, some dog parents still administer punishment in training. Shock collars are a disturbing example of potentially abusive treatment which may have long-lasting repercussions. The voltage administered by callers often exceeds that of the currents in shockwave therapy and can cause serious pain or acute anxiety. Causing a dog physical harm or emotional distress should not have any place in a training regimen.
A Holistic/Positive Reinforcement Approach Yields the Best Results
Rather than punishing your dog for failing to follow commands correctly or exhibiting undesirable behaviors, you should use praise and rewards to motivate your dog. You also need to make sure your dogs needs are being met- the need for play, exercise, learning, relaxation, safety, proper nutrition, discovery and fresh air are just some of the needs your dog has that will vary based on age, breed and temperament. For the most part, dogs strive to please their parent(s)- so its imperative you set them up to do so by meeting their needs the best you can. When your dog sees that he or she is pleasing you by following commands, it will be a strong incentive to keep up the good work.
Most dogs are going to love any activity that involves getting praised as a good boy or girl. Moreover, training treats are going to be highly effective tool that will get your dog excited about every training session.
Repetition Is Key
An effective training regimen is firmly rooted in repetition. You will not be able to instill trained behaviors in a few sporadically planned lessons. To thoroughly grasp training concepts, it is necessary to repeat the same exercises over and over until they become deeply ingrained in your dog’s recall. Repetition in training helps to make a dog’s responses to commands automatic.
You will need to perform the same commands hundreds of times. Professional trainers suggest teaching commands in a structure with “reps.” If a dog is able to do five reps flawlessly, it is time to move onto the next level. If he or she is getting only about three out of five reps correct in a set, then it is not time to move on just yet.
You Need to Recognize Specific Challenges and Adapt to Them
Cognitive or behavioral disorders can complicate the training process. Also, older dogs who have lived with other owners may be less responsive to training initiatives based on their prior experiences. When a dog hasn’t had a great start in life, families that rescue them often encounter problems with fearfulness. They may also struggle with inappropriate behaviors that are geared towards getting attention.
If you’ve observed that your dog’s conditioning has presented specific challenges in his or her training regimen, it will be important to address them effectively- meaning holistically. If a dog is fearful of other dogs, for example, it is probably preferable to avoid group training settings which could be a source of stress until they have more confidence and self esteem. This can be achieved through increased trust between the person and the dog, a solid skill set (beyond the basic commands in the back pocked) and a present dog parent (the parent is paying attention to the environment, the dog and their own inner world aka not scatterbrained and multitasking on the walk). Likewise, if your dog acts out for attention, don’t validate those behaviors with attention. Remember that even a negative response from you may be gratifying to a dog that is trying to get a rise from you.
Training your dog is an important thing that you need to do as an owner to care for his or her health and safety. Obedience gives dogs essential skills to avert dangerous situations and have positive interactions with both people and other dogs.
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