People often say to me they wish they had trained their dog when he was a puppy, thinking it is now too late and that they have to live with the bad habits that their dog has accumulated along the way. It is not true. All dogs no matter their age or breed can learn basic training and understand a range of commands at any time. The only difference is that the training may take a bit longer and require additional reinforcement for the older dog.
Dogs are all motivated by the same factors, they want to please you and earn your love and respect. They are eager for acceptance into your family, just like they would be keen to fit into a pack if they were in the wild and are quick to learn how to do this by responding to your reactions. It is therefore important to remember the way you respond to your dog after every action he or she makes will affect how they will act ongoing. Praise, be it in the form of food, a cuddle, a scratch or a walk will enforce the behaviour that went before, while a stern word or ignoring the dog will deter from a repeat of the preceding behaviour.
Below are some simple training tips and techniques you can introduce at home. Of course if you have a puppy, enrolling them in puppy training school is definitely recommended. The skills that both you and your puppy will learn in obedience training are essential to maintaining a happy and harmonious household.
One method of training that is gaining popularity is the use of a crate. The crate provides your dog with a secure place which is their own safe and happy home. By slowly increasing the amount of time the puppy is in their crate, especially over night or while you are out, the crate can become your puppy’s happy space, reducing barking and separation anxiety. Never use the crate as a form of punishment.
Training on a Lead
Ensuring you are in control while walking your dog is essential for both your dog and your children’s safety. It is therefore important to teach your puppy good lead etiquette early on. If your dog starts to drag or pull you, stop walking, say “sit” in a loud, clear voice (if they do not understand, use your hand and firmly press down on the back of the dogs bottom, your dog should then sit), wait for a moment and then start walking again. Do this every time your dog pulls or tugs and they will soon associate the stopping of their walk with the fact they are pulling and will over time be content to walk beside you.
At home you want to make it clear to your dog you are in control and what you expect of him. This will provide your dog with a level of security, as he will know how to please you. Start with simple commands such as sit, down and wait. Once mastered move on to teaching him other useful skills like how to indicate he needs to go outside to go to the bathroom.
Patience and Consistency
While not a training technique in itself, having plenty of patience and ensuring everyone in your house is consistent in the way they train your dog will ensure you are granted with success. If you are not consistent your dog will get confused, especially when they are excited and this will lead to your puppy acting in the wrong way.