How to Train Your Pup like a Pro
Dogs make wonderful pets. They’re fun, energetic, loyal and loving. They will quickly steal your heart and become a part of your family. However, dogs are also time consuming. They require a lot of training and attention. Here are the basics of dog training that you should know before you adopt a new furry friend.
While it would be great if your dog could do a ton of impressive tricks, there are five basic commands that your dog really needs to know—sit, stay, down, come and heel.
Since your dog doesn’t inherently know English words, you’ll have to start by physically enforcing this command. As you say “sit,” lift your dog’s head and push her bottom to the floor.
When you say stay, hold your palm up in a “stop” gesture. Walk backwards away from your dog. If he gets up, put him back in sit or down and try again. Once he gets better, keep him stay as you walk behind him.
This is a difficult command to master, since it means complete submission from your dog. A reinforcing gesture as you issue the command can help. Try getting your dog into a sit first, then moving to down.
This is the most important command your dog should learn. Start by putting her in sit or down, then telling her to stay. Say “come” in a commanding tone. When she comes, give her lots of praise. Never call your dog for discipline—only use positive reinforcement for this command.
You don’t want your dog pulling on the leash when you walk. Keep your dog at your left side with a toy. Don’t let him walk in front you—his head should be by your knee.
Tips and Tricks
Try to avoid treat training and using treats as a bribe to listen. Sitting for a milk bone isn’t obedience—it’s performing. While using the lure of a snack to get your dog to shake, speak, or roll over is fine, you want him to listen regardless of whether or not he gets a treat. You can reward your dog with verbal cues and petting.
When you give commands, keep your tone neutral and authoritative. There should be a distinct difference in your voice that your dog can hear so he knows that it’s time to listen.
You should reward them immediately for good behavior. If your dog sits on command, give him a “good boy” or a pat on the head right away to reinforce exactly what he did right. The same rule applies to punishments. If your dog chews up a shoe, reprimand him as soon as you discover it. Your dog will get confused if you try to punish him for it again days or even hours later.
Don’t repeat a command over and over if your dog doesn’t listen. If you suspect he doesn’t understand, work on learning the command more. If he’s just ignoring you (he will likely look away from you), physically and gently enforce the command, then praise him when he does it.
One secret to a well-behaved dog is making sure he gets lots of exercise. A tired dog is a good dog, since she won’t have the energy to chew up your house if she’s been playing a lot. Take long walks, play in the yard, or go to the dog park every day to release some energy. All the exercise will also help keep your pup trim and healthy.
You’ll need to practice training and commands every single day to reinforce them. Ideally, you would get some practice in every morning and every night to help remind your dog.
Dogs require a good deal of work and time, but they are absolutely worth the effort.