It is rightly said that dogs are man’s best friend. When you need someone to cheer you up, someone to share your joy with, or someone to give you company, you know you can always count on your furry, wet-nosed pal. They are extremely loyal and great to have around, but when you come home to a mess, it makes you wonder where you went wrong. Seeing your dog’s reaction when you say the words, “Good dog!” is priceless, but it gets hard sometimes when it does not follow instructions or does not seem to learn what you teach. All dogs can learn to behave well and to perform some tricks. You just need to be patient and follow a few training techniques. Soon enough, you will have a well-trained dog.
1. Associate Treats With Good Behavior
Dogs learn through association. Every time your dog rolls over, shakes your hand, or jumps on cue, reward it immediately. It is essential to reinforce good behavior. Each time you treat it say the words, “Good dog,” or “Yes, you did it!” You should let your dog know which behaviors are desirable.
2. Keep Commands Short
Dogs will not understand commands that are long and complicated. Keep them as short as possible. Just say, “Stay,” or “Sit.” Associate each command with an action and always make sure to use the same action for a particular command. Using different actions for one command will confuse your dog. Don’t repeat a command over and over. Just say it once and wait for it to obey. As soon as it performs the desired action, treat it. It will learn much faster when you give it time to understand a command and to realize that there is a treat afterward.
3. Don’t Punish Your Dog
When your dog chews up your shoes, you may feel that scolding it or punishing it will get it to stop, but it won’t. If you want it to stop doing something you don’t want it to, ignore it completely or redirect it to a good behavior. Let it chew on a bone instead and verbally praise it when it does so. Ignored behavior will soon become extinct. In some cases, your dog may increase an unwanted behavior before it gives it up completely. You should be patient and not lash it out on your dog. They get hurt too.
4. Be Patient
Don’t expect your dog to follow all your instructions or behave well in just 2 or 3 days of training. It will take time and you need to be patient with it. You need to keep reinforcing good behavior with rewards. Soon enough, it will start preferring the good behavior over the bad. This process is called shaping, which does not happen overnight. Continue reinforcing a behavior as long as you need to. Don’t give up.
5. Give Treats To Your Dog Wisely
Just because you want to treat your dog for good behavior, it does not mean you go overboard with it. If you have a large treat, break it into tiny pieces each time you give it to your dog, or just use small treats instead. Treats should not form a major part of what your dog eats. Proper food and nutrition are essential if you want your dog to be healthy. Keeping a variety of treats comes in handy when training your dog. Use its favorite one when you want to reinforce an extra-good behavior.
6. Use Interactive Toys
If your pooch is not motivated by treats, use its favorite toys to reward its good behavior. Play catch each time it obeys a command or set aside some play time if it has behaved well throughout the day. You can use a variety of interactive toys so that it does not get bored.
7. Don’t Strain Your Dog
Each training session should be kept short, say 5 minutes, and you can train it a few times a day. Long training sessions will exhaust your dog and it will start losing interest. Remember to make each session as simple as you can. Focus on one particular behavior each session. The more fun a training session is, the faster your dog will learn.
8. Slowly Decrease The Number Of Treats
As your dog learns to behave well or to perform a trick, slowly decrease the number of treats you give it. Instead of treats, pet it, play with it, or praise it verbally. You can give it a massage or rub its paws as well. It will help your dog relax and will build confidence between the two of you.
Never be harsh with your dog if it is not able to perform tricks. You have to acknowledge its breed and not force it to do things that are physically impossible. Take it to the vet regularly to check for injuries.