Whether you have just got a new puppy or have adopted an older dog you would like to train, it can be a challenging prospect. A lot of time and patience goes into training a dog of any age, and depending on their temperament and your dedication to training them, it can seem easy or be very difficult at times.
To give you a helping hand, we’ve put together our top 10 tips to making your dog more obedient, which should make you think about your approach to training your dog. It might be that you’re new to training, or have started out but just need a little advice before carrying on. After all, some dogs can be challenging when it comes to obedience, so the more advice the better, especially if you want to get your dog obeying every command sooner rather than later.
Decide on house rules before bringing your pet home
Prior to bringing your new dog home, it’s worth discussing with the whole household what they will be allowed and not allowed to do whilst under your roof. Topics of discussion might include:
- Whether the new dog is allowed on the furniture
- Should they be allowed in your bedroom and on the bed
- Where they will be sleeping
- Where they will be eating
The reason for deciding these small details before your new furry friend arrives, is that you want everyone in the house to be teaching the dog the same things. For example, if you teach them to stay off the furniture, but your partner allows them on when your away, it can be very counterproductive for their training.
Decide on a name and stick to it
Once you have a name for your new dog, or are using a name they were given before, make sure you stick to it, and use it as often as possible. The aim here is to get them to respond to their name when giving instructions, especially when you are practising recall and want them to return to you when on a walk. Every time you give them an instruction, make sure to use their name and if they respond straight away, remember to praise and treat them.
It may be slow progress if you have a puppy, but house-training is an important part of making your dog obedient, and getting them to understand the rules of your home. Over time they will become accustomed to going to the kitchen to eat, going to their bed to sleep, and most importantly, going outside to the toilet. In the meantime, keep positively referring to these locations at every opportunity, and when your pup manages to use them correctly, remember to treat them or praise them accordingly.
Teaching them tricks and commands
Starting off with the basics such as sit, down and stay (or wait), will put you in good stead for keeping your dog obedient and listening to you when you give a command. Repetition of these basic commands in the house and out on walks will keep your dog mentally motivated and also reinforce the positive aspects of being obedient, such as getting a treat or being praised frequently.
Use food treats as lures and rewards
As previously mentioned, treats are important for rewarding your dog when they have performed an action correctly, such as going to the toilet outside. But you can also use treats to lure dogs back to you, especially when practising recall when out on a walk. It’s all about positive reinforcement, making your puppy understand that by going to the toilet outside, rather than on the carpet, they will receive loads of praise and even get a treat.
Keep training sessions short to avoid your dog getting distracted
Especially with young puppies, attention spans can dwindle quite quickly when being asked to concentrate on commands and instructions for lengthy periods. For training to be effective and to encourage obedience, it’s best to keep sessions as short as possible so that the dog doesn’t become distracted or bored, which can also lead to naughty behaviour.
Instead, keep training to a maximum of 10-15 minutes, and always finish off the session with a treat and some praise if they have been particularly good when following commands.
Socialisation with other dogs/people
As much as solo training is beneficial, dogs also need to socialise as much as possible. It might be that regular walking means they encounter plenty of other neighbourhood dogs and people, but if not, it might be good to make a conscious effort to get your dog to mix with others. Keeping them sociable means that they don’t develop unsociable or even aggressive behaviour towards others, and it can also help for training purposes as other dogs can be a big distraction.
Be consistent with your actions/commands
Consistency is key when it comes to training. In the same way that everyone in the household should have decided on house rules, they should also be praising and punishing the dog in the same way too. If you punish the dog for getting on the furniture when others in the house just let it happen, the dog won’t know why it’s being punished, so may just keep on doing it.
The main rule here is to keep consistent, and to always reward for deemed good behaviour and punish for bad behaviour. However, the dog will only know the difference between good and bad if you keep your reactions to their behaviour consistent.
Don’t physically force your pet to do anything
Dogs learn through repetition, and finding out from you the difference between good and bad behaviour. If you use physical force to punish them or move them, they may mistake this for aggressive behaviour on your part and think that is acceptable. Alongside becoming aggressive themselves, this can also promote fear in your dog and encourage bad behaviour more rapidly. Instead, learn to use commands and treats to encourage good behaviour.
If you can’t do it, seek outside help
If you are having trouble with your dog’s bad habits, or if your dog becomes aggressive or destructive, you can always seek outside help in the form of a dog trainer or handler. They will have a lot more experience in dealing with different kinds of dogs, as well as stamping out bad behaviour quickly so it doesn’t get out of hand.
Make sure you have plenty of patience and a good supply of dog treats before you start training. Why not try our new range of treats that come in a wide variety of flavours? If you want to learn more about healthy treat training for dogs, then take a look at our guide here.
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