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Training your dog can be a very rewarding experience. But whether you are housetraining your dog or trying to teach it to heal, there are some basic guidelines that will make this task easier.

Be Consistent

The key to good training is to always be consistent by using the same cue word for the same command. Many pet owners are not consistent here. One week they'll use a command such as "come," the next week they’ll use "come here," and later one they'll often add the dog's gender into the command such as "come here, girl." Doing this will only confuse your dog. This is especially true when you are training the dog to walk on a leash. If you allow him to pull on the leash sometimes but jerk the animal back by the collar at other times, you will only confuse the dog. Also, it is a good training technique that if others are also training the dog that they follow the same rules and use the exact same command that you want the dog to learn.

Use Lots of Praise and Rewards

Dog trainers believe that all dogs will learn better and faster is they are praised and rewarded for the right behavior. Dogs that are punished for wrong behavior will not learn as fast.

Professionals use a combination of giving a small food treat and some very enthusiastic praise. As the dog begins to get the idea of what is expected of him you can phase out the food lures completely. This will ensure that your dog is obeying you and not doing it just for the treats.

Sometimes, however, you have a dog that is may not be interested in food as a training incentive. For these dogs, you need to understand them so that you'll know what they like best. Once you know what they like you can then use that as the reward for doing well.

Give the Rewards in a Timely Manner

To get your dog to connect the treat with good behavior you need to time your treats right. It usually doesn't take a dog long to connect the food treat with the proper behavior. For me, it usually only takes about ten minutes for my dog to make the connection.

Keep the Training Sessions Short and Sweet

Dogs don't like to do tedious things. Constant repetition can cause your dog to become bored. All training sessions will work best if you keep it fun. When you notice the dog getting bored or frustrated you need to stop the training. Training sessions should last no longer than ten minutes. You can also do mini training sessions which last only a couple of minutes several times a day. Mini sessions are usually the best when training a puppy because they have a much shorter attention span.

Make the Training Sessions Easy

Dogs are simple creatures and need to be trained in a simple manner. For instance, trying to train your dog the recall command in a dog park is asking too much from your dog. Start the training at home with little or no distraction. Then as the dog shows obedience to the command you can introduce some distractions into the training process. Do this a little at a time. Don't introduce too many distractions. As your dog masters the command with some distraction you can then add some more distractions until your dog obeys the command no matter what is happening around it.

Keep Cool

This is something that I see all the time. Someone is trying to train their dog. The dog doesn't get it. The owner loses his cool and starts yelling and hitting the dog. That is a bad mistake. All that was accomplished was to train the dog in fear. It is never a good idea to lose your patience with a dog. Don't jerk their leash if they don't obey. Take your time and be consistent. Eventually, your dog will understand. Remember, all dogs learn at different rates. Just like children in school.

Take Your Dog To School

If this is your first attempt at training a dog it is strongly recommended that you enroll in a dog obedience training class. Doing so will teach you the proper methods involved in the training process. It will also help your dog to get used to being around lots of other dogs and people. Speak with your veterinarian, local shelter or humane society, and other pet owners for recommendation to good obedience classes near you.

Practice Makes Perfect

This is something that is true for everything. We should never expect too much whenever we do something for the first time. This goes double for your dog. The only way to get good at something is to keep practicing. And even after we master one thing we still need to practice it so we don't lose the skill. This is also true for dogs.

Now About the Trainer

As a trainer, you need to know the animal first. Every dog is different and each will respond better to different training styles. You will probably have to go through some trial-and-error sessions here to find what works best with your dog. For instance, some dogs just don't respond well to their owner's sharp tone of voice. Others won't respond well to a calmer voice. And then there are those dogs that will push back when you try to train them.

How your dog behaves is the important factor in determining their personality. As long as you are the leader of the pack you should not have too many problems when training your dog.

Just remember to keep your cool when training your dog. Yelling, hitting, or other rough technique will instill fear into the animal and create behavior problems.

Here's the Bottom Line

Training your dog will make your relationship with your dog stronger. Learn to communicate with your dog in a way that the dog will understand. And make the training sessions consistent. Reward the dog when he gets it right. Don't reward if they get it wrong. Just try again. And again, and again, if necessary.

Dog Training | Pet Quest
Dog performing in agility obstacle course.
Dog Training | Pet Quest
Dog performing in agility obstacle course.
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