A Beginner's Guide to Training Your Pet

So, you’ve found your pawfect forever furiend! What next? After the initial greeting, snuggling, scratches and licks, it’s time to teach your dog how to behave in their new home. But where do you begin? 

Delving into the world of training can seem daunting, but it’s easier than you may think. The right training can teach your dog the house rules, and it can also strengthen the bond you share. To help you navigate how to get started, grab your training treats and read on for some puptastic tips and techniques!

What Kind of Training Should I Use?

Dogs are certainly man’s best furiend, but they don’t come pre-programmed. While very smart, they won’t know how you want them to act unless they are shown what is and isn’t appropriate. Here are the different kinds of training that can help you focus on what you want your dog to learn- or unlearn!

Obedience Training – This is where all pet pawrents should start, as it will teach your dog all the basic, first commands that will dominant your life together, such as potty training, sit, stay, come and heel. It is also the first kind of training used for all dogs, and forms a base that the other training types are built upon.  

Behavioral Training – You’ll use this kind to get rid of undesirable behaviors, such as aggression to people or other dogs, indoor urination, or excessively digging, chewing or barking

Agility Training – If you’ve got an active, sporty pup, agility training may be the pawfect way to get out all that energy! Whether your furry pal is becoming an expert at frisbee, or loves an obstacle course, this training can give them the tools to compete in dog competitions!

Work Training – Want your dog to hunt with you? Work, or vocational training is what your dog will need to learn how be out in the wilderness with you safely. This type also trains police dogs for searches and rescues, pups who help those with disabilities, therapy dogs, and even farm dogs who herd livestock. 

What Kind of Methods Can I Use?

Once you know what kind of training you are aiming for, you can choose from several training methods to see what works best for you. While some are considered outdated, such as the Alpha Dog/Pack Leader method, others have mixed reviews, like in the case of electronic collars. 

Here are some pupular, and generally accepted training methods:

Positive Reinforcement – This highly used method uses only rewards, and encourages the wanted behavior, rather than punishes the unwanted ones. 

Clicker Training – This conditioning-based method similar to positive reinforcement uses a clicker device to let your dog know exactly when they will be rewarded. It can also be paired with any other method. Check out this video to see how it works!

Model or Mirror Training -  Using a human or another dog to show the behavior or command you want your dog to display, this method assumes your dog will mimic it once they see there’s a reward involved.

Vibrational Collars – While shock collars often come under fire, vibrational collars are furbulous ways to help you communicate and train dogs in the field who are physically too far away to use other methods, or for disabled pets, such as blind or deaf dogs.

Now that you’ve decided on the best type of training and method for you, we’ve got a few more tips to help you get the positive results you are looking for.

Tips for Training Your Dog

When to Start Training – If you’ve got a puppy, you’ll start the moment they come home, as dogs can learn as early as 7 to 8 weeks old. Once your pup reaches about 3 to 4 months, you can start potty training. If you are bringing home an older dog, you’ll want to establish a bond first with lots of positive interaction and time together. Begin training your new dog once you feel comfortable together.

Start with First Commands – Whether a puppy or a rescue, you’ll need to start with the basics if they don’t already know them. Every dog should learn “sit” and “stay,” and most dogs will learn “come” and “lay down” quite easily. Another essential command is “drop it,” which you’ll need with puppies to stop them from eating everything! And for relaxing walks, you may also try “heel”. 

Stay Positive – Often considered the best way to teach a dog, using positive methods and rewards rather than punishments keys in to your dog’s need for your approval, and has been found to decrease aggressive behaviors. Rewards can come in the form of treats, praise, or affection.

Keep Sessions Short – Long training sessions can bore your dog, and frustrate you as you lose their attention! Aim for 10 to 15-minute sessions, spread out over the day. 

Choose Training Time Wisely – You will be the best judge of when your dog is ready to learn, but that usually isn’t in the middle of a meal or playtime. Choose a quiet place free of distractions, at a good time when they can focus on you, such as before a meal.

Stay Consistent – Perhaps the most important factor in training is consistency. Be sure once you start one way of teaching a command, you and all other family members use the same way to reinforce the wanted behavior. 

Try Professional Training – If you feel like training is not in your toolkit, look for a pawrific obedience class or local trainer for an assist! Professional training can teach both you and your pup the basics, give an insight into dealing with behavior issues, and can provide much needed socialization for your dog. 

Above All, Be Patient – It takes time to learn, and your dog will likely need multiple training sessions for each command. Remember to stay patient, and with focus, consistency and determination, you and your pup will have a furbulous time training, and enjoying life together!