Dog training is an important aspect of pet parenting. Training your dog to be obedient is the key to having a true friend and companion, not simply a pet.
Aim of Dog Training
Dog training is about becoming the pack leader.
It’s about respect and cooperation, rather than dominance and control. You want to earn the respect of your dog and assume the leadership role, as opposed to a controlling role.
While this may seem like a very fine line, it’s an extremely important to understand. The ultimate result is that your dog obeys you out of respect, not fear, and in the spirit of co-operation, not submission.
When you forge a partnership with your dog, you work together as a team. You become the leader of the pack, as opposed to the “autocratic, cranky boss”!
If you achieve this aim, dog training becomes fun. The dog and the owner lighten up. Instead of an arduous task, you enjoy a daily game.
Every Dog Needs Obedience Training
Some dog owners like to snuggle up with their dogs on the couch and allow them to sleep on beds. Others prefer that their dogs remain on the floor. Both may well be equally loving dog parents, but whatever your preference, all dogs need basic dog training. How else will your dog know what the rules are?
While many dogs are smart, every dog needs to learn the rules. It makes for a far happier and harmonious household, both from your point of view and that of your dog.
Dogs like direction; they are far happier when they know what the rules are and what is expected of them. It’s like everything in life; if you don’t know the rules, it’s really hard to play the game. Just avoid stress.
Nothing can make a naturally confident and happy dog more anxious and withdrawn then being yelled at constantly for breaking rules that he or she doesn’t understand.
Dog owners vary. There are those who simply want a loving dog as a good companion and friend. Others strive to win obedience, agility and show competitions. Whatever type of owner you are, it all starts with basic obedience training. Once the basics are in place, you can move on to bigger and better things if you choose.
Why Dogs Need Training
With proper training, your dog becomes a dream to own. However easygoing you are, both you and your dog will benefit from training.
Consider this scenario: Your doorbell rings. Your dog goes nuts because something new is about to happen. Is it a friend or a foe?
- A well-trained, obedient dog reads your emotions and is in tune with your will. All it takes to bring things under control is a simple and calm “sit” or “stay.” Your visitor may even be impressed!
- An untrained dog remains out of control. In the ensuing frenzy, literally anything can happen; your mother-in-law on her back staring into your Great Dane’s eyes, her beautiful outfit covered in paw-prints, scratched legs, dog darting off down the road, unbearable load barking …..You get the picture! It’s a total chaos!
Nobody likes a disobedient dog, not even dogs. Your dog may seem like having a whole lot of fun while the humans are running for cover, grabbing hold of breakables and trying to avoid muddy paw prints or being knocked over. The truth is that the dog is simply in an out-of-control, over-excited frenzy.
All dogs are far, far happier when your rules and expectations are clear. Because they know what is expected of them, their anxiety levels are lower, and they can get on with the business of loving and learning from you.
Dog training is the answer!
Understanding Your Dog
Training your dog has as much to do with understanding your dog as it has to do with training techniques and methods.
Each dog has a unique personality. Some are more nervous than others, some tend to be dominant, while others just go with the flow.
Whether you realize it or not, your dog is perfect for you. Each and every dog is very special in his or her own unique way.
Different breeds have different general traits. Some require a firmer hand, while for others, gentle encouragement is enough. Some inbred traits make training easier, while others make it challenging.
Before you begin dog training, give yourself a chance to really get to know your dog. Give him or her the opportunity to express themselves. While dogs don’t have the ability of speech, with love and encouragement, they’ll always find a way to make their wishes, likes, and dislikes known.
It’s also a good idea to research your dog breed. Find out as much as you can about breed-specific traits. The more knowledge you have, the better your chances of learning who your dog really is.
Above all, don’t take it too seriously! Dog training is a journey, there’s no destination! Make it fun! Keep things happy! Appreciate the uniqueness of your special dog! With the right attitude, you’re sure to reap the rewards!
According to pet expert Dr. Dennis Fetko, “in dog training, jerk is a noun, not a verb.”
Bonding With Your Dog
Dog training is a lot easier when you share a strong bond with your dog.
You’ll be at a huge advantage if you can see the world through your dog’s eyes. Try to understand how your dog thinks and what he or she needs to know to make your instructions clear.
Dogs interpret the world differently than we do. No matter what you are doing, your dog is aware of your mood, body language, the tone of voice and facial expression. They are trying to figure out what it all means, especially how it relates to them.
Be mindful when you communicate in any way and never disregard a dog’s sixth sense. They pick up on everything.
Bonding happens naturally. As you and your dog spend more time together, you get to know each other’s moods and mannerism. Here are a few tips to keep in mind during the bonding process:
- Time: Try to spend as much quality time as you can with your dog. Throw a ball or a Frisbee; most dogs will instinctively chase after it. Just hang out with our dog as much as you can. Dogs are more fun, and once they feel comfortable with you. You’ll be pleasantly surprised at the cute things they get up to.
- Communication: Talk to your dog. Express yourself when your pup’s around. It’s amazing how much they understand; perhaps not words, but certainly the emotion behind them. Use your dog’s name a lot. They learn their names surprisingly quickly and their eyes will soon light up at the sound of it. If you are like most smitten dog owners, you will probably use many cute variations of their names. When they do something you like, tell them they are a “good dog.” When the opposite happens, let them know. This is how they learn the rules.
- Affection: All dogs love receiving affection. Love them and they will love you back tenfold. A pat on the head or a quick ear scratch when you walk past them goes a long way. Your pup doesn’t feel ignored and knows you care. Their confidence and sense of security are boosted, and your dog feels “at home.”
- Patience: No dog gets everything right the first time. Dogs learn by repetition and you may have to make the rules clear a number of times. Combine your affection with a little patience and a lot of persistence, and you’ll have a well-behaved dog in no time at all.
- Socialization: Expose your dog to as many new situations as possible. Dogs are pack animals. Most are naturally sociable and prefer not to be alone. Socialization is important to their well-being.
- Respect: Gaining your dog’s respect is vital to your obedience training efforts. Gaining your dog’s respect means getting your daily interactions with your dog right. While you are raising your dog with loads of affection, be mindful not to let them take control. This is a delicate balance that many owners struggle with. There is a fine line between loving your dog and spoiling them rotten. All loving relationships are based on mutual respect; emphasize on the word “mutual” and you need to gain your Labrador’s respect. Your Lab needs to where your boundaries are and it is up to you to establish them. If you give in to all your dogs’ demands, they soon lose respect for you and obedience training becomes a challenge. Labs can easily become very demanding, if you allow them to. The Lab thrives on attention. They are also extremely good at letting you know what they want. They look at you with those “please love me” eyes. You have to let your Labrador know when enough is enough. It is hard for many owners, but it is essential. Your Labrador will respect you for it. Remember, it’s a lot easier to create a good habit than it is to break a bad one.
- Leadership: Respect and leadership go hand-in-hand. To succeed at obedience training, you have to become the leader of the pack. Dogs are pack animals and naturally respect the alpha. Many Labrador owners don’t feel that they are natural leaders, but when it comes to obedience training you need to become one. If you don’t become a little bossy, your Labrador most certainly will.
When To Start Dog Training
Dog training should start as young as possible. For a puppy, gentle training can start at about eight weeks.
If you are introducing an older dog into your household, start laying down the rules as soon as possible. We have loads of posts on the specifics of dog training. You will learn about the pros and cons of different obedience training philosophies, step-by-step guides to overcoming behavioral problems, and much more.