As some dog owners may already be aware, the month of January is National Dog Training Month. Whether your four-legged friend is already grown-up or they're still a puppy, it's never too late (or too early) to start training. Training your dog provides mental stimulation, which makes them much happier. If you are a dog owner, and you've wanted to train your furry friend, here are some tips for puppy training.
Start With Basic Tricks
If you have never trained your dog before, start with the basics. Many owners find a trick that they think is cool online, and unknowingly pick one of the harder skills to master. Your first goal should be to pick tricks that your dog can quickly master so you can move onto the harder ones next. Generally, there are two tricks you'll want to try with your dog: shaking paws and peek-a-boo. The first trick is where your dog gives you their leg in response to a command. You can say, "paw," and they will reach out their leg for you to hold. The second trick is "peek-a-boo," in which the dog stands behind you and, on command, comes through your legs and looks up to you to say high. It's similar to the peek-a-boo you play with little kids! Both of those tricks are easy ones with which to start. Of course, there are other easy tricks as well.
By starting with the more accessible skills, you and your dog can develop a bond much more quickly, and it makes teaching other skills easier.
Use Rewards-Based Training
Most associations, including the American Kennel Club, advise using rewards-based training methods to help your dog humanely learn new skills. Rewards-based training works by rewarding a particular action. By contrast, aversion-based training works by punishing an effort. The rewards-based approach gives the dog a treat when they do something you like. With the two tricks mentioned above, you could give the dog a treat every time they stuck their paw out in response to your command. Or, with the peek-a-boo game, every time your dog went through your legs, you could give them a treat or say "good dog!" You want to reward good behavior, but don't punish bad behavior.
There are many good things to train your dog for. Eventually, your pet will learn that doing good things gives them positive affirmations, which is encouragement enough in and of itself.
Professional Puppy Training
Puppy training classes are the best way to ensure that your little four-legged friend receives the right training. In these classes, professionals provide guidance and advice on how to train your dog in the most efficient and optimum manner. Most obedience classes are six to eight weeks. You'll also want to consider the training style that they have and whether or not they train your dog with you present or not. However, your dog trainer is just that - professionals. They are the best people that can help you with dog training.
Training Takes Time
No matter how you choose to train your dog, whether it's with a professional trainer or you opt for dog training in your home, it's essential to know that it will take time. With enough patience, though, your four-legged friend can learn some fantastic new tricks!