A well-trained dog is a joy to have around. They listen to your commands and behave the way you want them to. In contrast, a poorly trained dog is hard to live with. They may steal food, have accidents in the house, or even behave aggressively towards other dogs. Luckily, with the right training, you can turn almost any dog into your best friend.
But where do you get started? How do you ensure your fluffy family member follows the rules and can even do a few tricks? Let these five critical dog training tips lead the way.
1. Set your dog up for success.
Housetraining is one of the first things that you will teach your new pup. To make the process as easy as possible, set your dog up for success. Make sure you take them outside to eliminate on a regular basis. Very young pups need to go out every couple of hours, but once your dog reaches three months, they can usually wait about four hours between potty breaks.
Put your dog on a leash and take them to the same spot every day. Then, once they’ve done their business, praise them heavily and let them off the leash. If they don’t go within about 15 minutes, take them inside, put them into a crate, and try again about 15 minutes later. Most dogs will avoid peeing or pooping in the crate so this helps to ensure they’re ready when you go back outside for another try.
2. Use consistent cue words.
Whether you’re trying to house train your dog or teach them to shake or sit, you need to use consistent cue words. For instance, when you take your dog outside to go to the bathroom, say the same word every time your dog squats down. Also make sure anyone else who lives in your home uses the same word.
With consistency, your dog will quickly learn the words you’re using. The average dog can learn about 165 words, but when you’re in the training stages, you really want to stick with the words and concepts that you need them to know.
3. Reduce distractions until you reach the proofing stage.
While training your dog, try to reduce distractions. A busy dog park, for example, is not the place to start training your dog to sit, speak, shake, roll over, or do other tricks. Instead, start working on these training essentials on a quiet day at home.
Also, make sure that you eliminate internal distractions as well. If your dog is hungry, needs to go to the bathroom, or has excess energy from being pent up all day, they won’t be able to focus on the lesson. Take care of their core needs before you start training.
That said, when your dog learns a trick, you can introduce distractions during the proofing stage. Ultimately, whether you’re out on a busy walking path, in a hectic dog park, or around lots of people, you want your dog to be able to follow your commands.
4. Have fun and end on a positive note.
Have fun while training your dog. Use treats to keep them interested in the lesson, but also train your dog to do tricks that delight you. Your dog will be more likely to listen if they feel like you’re truly interested in their training. Also, make sure to end training sessions on a positive note by having your dog practice tricks and commands that they’ve already mastered.
5. Consider a dog obedience program.
Keep in mind that you don’t have to train your dog on your own. There are dog training experts who can work magic with pups. Consider signing up for a pet obedience class. These classes teach your dogs to follow commands, but they also show you tricks and tips on how to better train your dog.