As you and your favorite canine companion are spending more time snuggling and spending quality time together as winter sets in, now’s the perfect time to brush up on some basic obedience skills. Training is not only beneficial when it comes to having a well-mannered pup, it’s a form of interaction that creates stronger relationships for both of you that will last a lifetime. And, with even the most basic skills in your dog’s arsenal, they’ll be able to live a more calm and complete life as a respected member of your family.
You might think that you can only train a dog when it’s young, but you’d be wrong! In fact, your dog can benefit from training at absolutely any age. It’s never too late! Dogs have the ability to learn new skills at any point in time and can even adapt to new behaviors and circumstances given the right attention and teachings.
So, whether you want to teach your young four-legged pal to stop chewing on furniture, you want to teach your older dog to calm down, and stop jumping up on every person who walks into your home, or you simply want to work on basic obedience commands, like ‘sit’ and ‘stay,’ here are some helpful tips for successful training:
- Keep Sessions Short – Whatever the age of your pet, you’ll want to try to keep training sessions brief, as dogs tend to have very short attention spans. Your goal should be about 10 – 15 minutes of training per session. This gives you plenty of time to work on mastering one skill at a time. If your dog’s up for it, you can even switch things up, and alternate a few different skills at once. Just remember, the key is in the repetition. So, once your pup has learned to recognize and carry out a command, make sure you’re reinforcing the behavior by practicing several times throughout the day.
- Be Clear and Concise – Dogs don’t speak or understand language the way that we humans do, so make all commands clear and concise. For instance, if you’re teaching your dog to sit, the command should simply be, ‘Sit.’ It should always be that simple. Any other language or embellishment will only confuse them, as it buries the command making it difficult for them to understand.
- Maintain a Positive Attitude – You may have already figured out that your pet tends to feed off of whatever mood you may be in. So, if you approach training with your pup with a positive attitude, and they see that you’re excited, they will be too. Remember, you’re the one in charge, and you need to remain positive, strong and patient for them. You also want to exude compassion and kindness so that your dog feels safe. This will help them to perform better. Plus, a bit of positive reinforcement goes a long way!
- Use Positive Reinforcement – The best way to get a command to stick is to use positive reinforcement in conjunction with repetition. So, whenever your dog carries out a behavior that you like, give them a reward. They’ll look forward to it so much that they may even start doing the behavior on their own without your verbal command, in which case you should also reward them. The reward can either be in the form of their favorite treat, verbal praise, or everyone’s favorite, lots of affectionate petting. This lets them know that you like their behavior, and so they’ll continue to act to please you.
With these basic training tips, you and your pup will form stronger bonds, and they’ll develop behavioral patterns that will benefit absolutely everyone.