Dog or puppy training is one of the must-do things once you acquire a new dog. Training and socialization rank high in a dog’s needs.
This means that you need to do it when your dog is still in its early years, as soon as it gets into your home.
Granted, many first-time dog owners find dog training quite challenging. However, if you adopt a systematic approach to this project, you’ll find it less daunting.
In this article, we’ll offer you all the guidance you need when it comes to training your dog or puppy.
Here’s what we have covered:
Training Tips to Remember
Learn to Listen to Your Dog
From the moment your dog gets into the house, learn to listen to its needs. Know when he feels uncomfortable around other pets or family members. Don’t force it to do things that it seems reluctant to do.
Learn to Appreciate Your Dog
Dogs respond positively to love, care, and appreciation. Apart from just correcting him when he’s wrong, be quick to recognize good behavior and reward him accordingly.
Be Clear in Your Instructions
Let your dog understand why you don’t want him doing certain things. Just telling him ‘NO’ is not good enough.
Go ahead and tell him what you want him to do. For example, after telling him ‘NO’, go ahead and tell him ‘STAY’ – or the appropriate command based on what you what him to do.
Don’t Set the Bar too High
Just like humans, dogs experience challenges dropping old habits and picking new ones. Change happens gradually, and you should not expect an overnight miracle.
However, the earlier you set them on the path to behavior change, the better. It’s quite hard to teach old dog new tricks!
Offer Your Dog High-Quality Food
Your dog needs foods that are well balanced. Ensure that you purchase only high-quality food. Good food has the right ingredients for your breed type and age.
Poor quality foods lead to poor performance and will make your training project harder to accomplish.
Consistency Does It
If you are living with other family members, it’s important that you share your training goals with them. This is so that all of you can be speaking the same language when it comes to issuing dog commands.
Let everyone understand the meaning of each command so that you don’t confuse the dog.
Be Selective in Your Choice of Treats
Each dog has its own unique personality. This means that what could work for one dog might not work for yours.
Learn the kinds of food and treats your dog prefers. He’ll be more cooperative when you give him what he enjoys.
Use Rewards Advisedly
Dog training experts are okay with the idea of using food treats to reinforce good behavior and obedience.
However, do not confine yourself to using just food treats. Every single moment you are with your canine companion is a moment for learning.
Use the world around you to instill positivity and good learning. For example, you can reward with walks, touching, and praises.
Give Your Dog Freedom
Once the dog becomes adequately acquainted with the home, give it some level of freedom.
Don’t give it too much freedom too soon. Remember, he’s still learning the ropes and is likely to cause accidents if you don’t supervise him.
One way of ensuring his safety is by using a doggie crate or a designated safe area.
Puppy Pad Training
As your puppy learns to use puppy potty, you’ll have to do some management to control his mess. And, they always do make a mess!
Are Potty Pads the Right Choice?
A good number of new dog owners prefer to train their dogs to carry out their business outside.
Others use potty pads as a stopgap measure, while some use it full time.
Your choice will depend on the bladder issues your pup is experiencing. Pups with severe bladder control issues need to be pad trained properly before you expect them to start going outdoors.
You see, it would be unreasonable to expect such a pup to be disciplined enough as not to pee inside the house.
The good thing is that even if your pup messes in the house, the mess isn’t too big. You’ll find it fairly easy to clean.
If you live in regions that are prone to very cold weather, pad training would be a more reasonable choice for you. Small dogs can’t handle the harshness of such climates.
It would be best you allow them to do their business in the house until they are old enough to venture out of the house.
The same applies to those who live in apartments. Here, you can either pad train in the house, or choose a suitable spot on the roof to place the pup potty.
Some dogs suffer from medical conditions that affect their mobility. If yours is one such dog, take it to the vet for intervention measures. In the meantime, you can opt for pad training as the dog recuperates.
Product Options for Potty Pad Training
To make things easier for your dog, give it a definite spot where it will be carrying out its business. The fewer the options you provide for him, the better he’ll be at making the right choice.
You can choose from a number of products to help your puppy pad training.
Dog Litter Boxes
Fill a litter box with sawdust recycled or recycled paper pellets and you are good to go. These materials are appropriate because they are absorbent.
Classic Potty Pads
These sponge-like materials are designed to absorb wetness. Also, they do not leak.
You can purchase one made of either artificial or real grass. They are a good stepping-stone if you intend for your dog to graduate to outdoor potty training.
Of the above options, dogs tend to do very well with dog litter boxes and grass mats. This is probably because unlike the classic potty pads, they are quite distinguishable from the floor.
Without a doubt, pad potty training your pup is much work. However, with sufficient patience, you should achieve your goals in due time.
Fighting Boredom in Dogs
Life for a dog can be pretty boring. Apart from the few times, you take it to the park, or out for walks, it spends most of its life at home.
Such a boring lifestyle can lead to increased stress levels, high blood pressure, and obesity. As such, it’s important you get your dog useful things to do while you are not at home.
Apart from the obvious benefit of getting something to eat, contra freeloading makes your dog exercise some bit in the process. It’s a great way of killing boredom.
Indeed, research shows that house pets that work for their food live happier, more fulfilling lives.
You can apply the concept of contra feeding in a number of ingenious ways.
Here are some ways to help your doggie fight boredom:
Use of Puzzle Toys
Puzzle toys are toys that actually dispense food. Your dog gets to play and enjoy itself as it tries to retrieve its food.
You can hide food in places that your dog will find easy to access. The dog will have fun hunting for these treasures. The reward, of course, will be bitings of tasty kibble.
It’s important that you don’t hide the puzzles or food high up above ground level. This could lead to accidents as the dog tries to access the prize.
Use of Dogwalkers
Dogwalkers is a great way of keeping your dog occupied for part of the time you are away. They are better than leaving your dog bored for the entire day before your return.
Use of Hard Chewies
These are hard edible products. They will keep your dog quite busy for the better part of the day.
There are different types of hard chewies. Be sure to purchase the products that are appropriate for your dog based on his age and preferences.
Dog Daycare Centers
Although this can be quite costly, it provides tons of fun for your canine friend.
Of course, you need to find out what is offered at the particular daycare you intend to take your dog. Your dog’s personality should match with what’s on offer.
Otherwise, your doggie may loathe the experience and dread his daily visits to the daycare.
Alternative Activity Dog Programs
This is a good alternative to Dog Daycare Centers. Depending on your locality, different centers offer different dog-oriented activities.
Your dog can benefit from such activities as hiking, beach walks, and walking nature trails.
You can use the above ways interchangeably so that your dog gets variety. Write a well-thought-out plan for the activities you intend your dog to take part in on a week-by-week basis.
Train Your Dog to Stop Crying in the Crate
What’s the Importance of Dog Crate?
Although it’s not a piece of mandatory dog equipment to have, dog crates have their uses. It’s important that your dog becomes comfortable in their crate because they may have to spend considerable periods there under certain circumstances.
For example, a crate is very handy when you want to restrict your dog’s movements. Also, it’s a good place to potty train your dog.
Dog crates are useful when you are traveling with your canine friend. The same is true when you have to confine your dog for medical reasons.
Granted, crate training has its fair share of challenges. Most dogs try to resist by barking incessantly or crying a lot.
Is Normal for New Dogs to Cry?
It’s not uncommon for new dogs to cry a lot when you put them in their crates. However, things don’t have to be this way.
It’s your responsibility as the dog owner to rectify the situation. The more you leave the situation unresolved, the more it will be nerve-jarring for you and your canine friend.
Most puppies under the age of 5 months dislike being confined in the care for more than 2 or 3 hours at a time.
They suffer the distress of weak bladder control. Also, they are kind of fearful when you are not around. They express their fear and distress by crying.
Although it’s normal for this to happen, don’t encourage the pup to just cry out its distress. Look for ways to reassure him, to make him calm down.
Otherwise, long cries ate night can be disquieting for you and your family members.
Why Do Dogs Cry in Their Crate?
There is a reason for each time your dog cries in the crate. As a discerning dog owner, you should understand this behavior and anticipate it in your new dog.
Here are a few such reasons.
- The dog needs a potty break
- The dog is fearful
- It is lonely
- The dog needs to feel free
- It is boring
- It’s feeling unwell
- It could be hungry
- It’s suffering from anxiety separation
Once you understand the source of your dog’s distress, it will be easier to intervene and help it calm down.
What’s important that you remain calm. Don’t be reactive and start scolding your dog. This is usually counter-productive.
How to Teach Your Dog Not to Cry in the Crate
It’s possible to train your dog not to cry in the crate. Here’s what you need to do:
Create an Appealing Environment in the Crate
Ensure that you set up the crate in an attractive manner. Make it as comfortable as you can.
Make your dog associate the crate with things that he likes. For example, you can serve its meals in the crate. Once they are done with each meal, allow them out for some time.
Also, leave your dog’ favorite treats in the crate.
Through classical conditioning, the dog will come to like the crate and find comfort in it.
Exercise Your Dog Before He Gets into the Crate
Teenage dogs tend to be very active. It’s very possible that they still feel very energetic by the time you put them into the crate.
Of course, this excess energy must get a let-out. They often express it by crying to seek your attention.
To prevent this, ensure that you exercise the dog before he enters the crate. Ensure that the exercise is adequate to make them compliant enough when they get into the crate.
A 30 – 40-minute walk should suffice. Believe you me; you’ll benefit from the exercise as well!
Give Your Dog a Potty Break When He Cries
This is a great way of training your dog to ask for potty breaks.
When he cries, put him on a leash and take him outside for a potty break. Remember, this is not playtime. So don’t encourage any kind of play from him.
Instead, just take him outdoors and stand with him where he does his thing. If he potties, give him a treat and take him back indoors. Put him back in the crate.
If he doesn’t potty, don’t give him any treat, but put him back in the care.
This will teach him that crying does not get him anything else, but a potty break.
However, you need to be patient as you teach this lesson. You’ll have to repeat it a number of times before the dog gets it.
Common Crate Training Mistakes to Avoid
Dogs learn best through association and repetitions. However, if you keep changing the rules, the dog becomes confused.
Never Punish Your Dog for Crying
Regardless of the reason for crying, punishing your dog is counter-productive. Never scold it, hit it, or squirt it with water for crying in the crate.
Don’t Give Your Dog Undue Attention
Whenever your dog/puppy cries, give him his potty break. Don’t engage him in any other way. Don’t play with him or talk to him in any way.
Giving him undue attention whenever he cries is the foundation for problems in the future.
Don’t Leave Your Dog unattended for too Long
Be kind to your dog. If you know you’ll be away for too long live him in an ex-pen with pooty pads.
It’s cruel to expect him to hold his bladder for 8 hours when you can he can only do so for 3 or 4 hours.
Train Your Dog to Like Water
Some dogs take to water faster than others do depending on their previous experiences in the water.
Of course, puppies learn faster than older dogs.
Whatever type of dog you are dealing with, it’s essential to be patient.
The best way to win them over is to make your dog’s interaction with water enjoyable. Don’t just throw them into the deep end of the pool and expect them to have fun!
Your Dog’s Safety
Whether it’s a puppy or an older dog, don’t allow it to swim too far from you. Let them wear a life jacket before they get into the water.
This will help them in case they become fatigued and can longer paddle.
Safe Water Source
Choose a safe water source, especially if you are dealing with a puppy. You see, he’s still not done with his immunization shots.
As such, contact with unsafe water can expose your pup to all sorts of germs and diseases.
Associate that first water experience with fun for your dog. Don’t force your dog into the water. Instead, encourage him to get into the water using water toys.
When he does well, remember to reward him with a suitable dog treat.
There are two tried methods for creating positivity in your dog when it comes to water.
#1 – Classical Conditioning
Ivan Pavlov first put forth the theory of Classical Conditioning. You can use it to encourage your dog to get into the water in order to get great rewards.
Here’s how to go about it:
- Hold your dog with a long leash, close to the water
- Work with the limitations of the dog in mind. If he has had a prior negative experience with water, you’ll have to be very patient.
- If the dog looks at the water, click on your clicker
- Then, give your dog a treat
- If the dog does get into the water, click and give it a treat
- Look for other positive interactions that the dog will have with the water
- For each of those interactions, click and reward
You may not achieve your goals on day one. Be patient and allow the dog to take the lessons in his stride. Don’t push or coerce him in any way.
#2: Operant Conditioning
This requires more effort on your part than Classical Conditioning. Here, you use the clicker and commands or cues.
When the dog responds to your command appropriately, you reward it with a treat.
Here’s how it works:
- Train your dog to touch his nose to your open hand when you say ‘TARGET’
- Go to the training ground – a suitable water location
- For safety ensure that your dog has a line on
- Issue the command ‘TARGET’ and lead him to the water
- Clicker and give a treat for obedience
- Move closer to the water and encourage him to follow
- For every successful engagement with the water, be sure to reward
You can use water toys to make the training easier. Throw them deeper and deeper as the dog displays remarkable progress.
When you use a combination of the above methods, you should achieve success before long. However, the level of this success is dependent on your dog’s trainability and its history with water.
Don’t panic if you don’t realize success within the time you had planned. It’s advisable that you take a break and start afresh after some time.
What about Dog Bathes?
It’s not uncommon for dogs that love water to loathe bath time. They love being on the beach more than they take to the tub.
You and I know the importance of bathing your dog on a regular basis. As such, you should help your canine companion love their bath time.
- Use treats to help your dog associate the tub/bathing with fun
- Invest in a good-quality mat for the bathtub floor
- Let the dog get used to your holding it still by the color
- Rub the dog over his body as you hold him still – this mimics the bathing action
- Let your dog get acquainted with all the essentials used in bathing
- For his first bath, make it a partial one
- If this goes well, attempt a full bath
Remember to click and reward your dog for each step he cooperates.
Basic Dog Commands
There are 7 basic dog commands that you can teach your dog. These are ‘NO’, COME’, ‘SIT’, ‘STAY’, ‘DOWN’, ‘OFF’, and ‘LEAVE IT’.
When your dog masters this, your life will be easier. You’ll enjoy more quality time with your furry friend.
You will progress faster on this path if your train your dog when it is still young.
Teaching your dog the basic commands is fun. Also, it helps your dog to be a responsible member of your community.
Chances of losing your trained dogs are less. Untrained dogs tend to stray a lot.
Young dogs are easier to train than their older counterparts are. So, do not waste too much time after you bring the pup to your home. Start the training as soon as is practically possible.
Teaching Your Dog to “SIT”
- Choose a place with an environment conducive for training
- Hold your dog’s favorite high above his nose
- Slowly lower the treat so that the treat is somewhere between the dog’s years
- The dog will inevitably sit
- When this happens, say ‘SIT’ and let the dog have the treat
- Do this a number of times, and remember to praise the dog once it executes this manoeuver
Teaching Your Dog to Lie “DOWN”
- Pick a suitable spot for the training, away from noises
- Ask your dog to ‘SIT’ as detailed above
- Once they’re seated, hold the treat on the floor, just between their front paws
- Move the treat slowly forward, so that the dog lies flat as it tries to follow it
- This will be the ‘DOWN’ position
- Reward the dog with the treat
- Do this severally until your dog has no qualms lying flat down
Teaching Your Dog to “LEAVE IT’
- Take your dog to a quiet place for the training
- Hold your dog’s favorite treat in your hand
- Let them smell the treat but not have it
- Wait for their attention to shift from the treat to you
- Tell them ‘OK’ and let them have the treat
- Do this a number of times, until the dog gets used to the routine
Clicker Training Your Dog Positively
A clicker is a small plastic box that makes a ‘clicking’ noise when you press it with your thumb.
It is readily available in most of the local pet stores and online stores.
Clicker training is emerging as the preferred way of training dogs.
Do the same with the remaining treats, one at a time.
The dog soon comes to associate a click with a treat. As such, he’ll try to impress you in order to earn a click (treat).
It comes as a way of affirmation. It tells your dog that he needs to obey your command to earn a treat.
As you train using a clicker, ensure to keep the sessions brief. 5-10-minute sessions are more beneficial than 1-hour stints.
The longer the sessions, the less focus your dog will pay to the lessons. Your dog will find them stressing, and you are not likely to achieve much.
No matter how the training goes, ensure that each session ends on a positive note. One way you can do this is to ensure that you end the session with your dog’s favorite game.
This will give both you and your dog a sense of accomplishment. As such, you’ll both be looking forward to the next training session.
Equally important is to ensure that you conduct the training in an environment conducive for this purpose.
However, once your dog gets the hang of the basics, you can introduce distractions that mimic the real world. This will teach your dog to be efficient even in the presence of distractions.
Clicker training (and all forms of training) should be based on a reward system. You can use cuddles, touches, games, toys, and treats to appreciate your dog’s positive moves.
We refer to this as ‘positive reinforcement’. It calls for you to ignore unwanted behavior, and reward positive ones. Don’t give attention to bad behavior.
Avoid using chains and chokes during the training, as they can lead to injuries. A head collar is more appropriate if you need to have physical control of the dog.
And, no matter how things go, never, ever punish your dog. Compulsive punishments are retrogressive. They do not add value to the relationship with your dog.
Don’t react to unwanted behavior by yelling, scolding, or picking up the dog. All such attention will only encourage the dog not to change.
Remember, training time is meant to be quality time. It is supposed to help you create a strong partnership with your canine friend.
Dogs are not the same. Just like humans, each dog has its own unique personality. You need to understand the personality, needs, and energy levels of your dog so that you can respond to its training needs appropriately.
Regardless of your dog’s breed, it requires both physical and mental exercise. If you own more than one dog, you need to understand the energy needs of each one of them.
If they have different mental and physical capabilities, do not expose them to the same challenges.
It’s for this reason that you need to understand the type of dog breed you’d like to adopt. Otherwise, you may be setting yourself up for frustration.
Imagine adopting a high energy level breed like the German Shepherd. If you don’t have the energy for daily training games or daily runs, both you and the breed may end up being frustrated with each other.
Equally important are your dog’s daily mental exercises needs. no matter how slow learning the dog is, it needs daily mental stimulation.
Of course, if the dog is hyperactive, you’ll have to give it much more than just token stimulation. If you don’t give it adequate mental and physical exercise, the dog may become practically uncontrollable.
As a dog owner, you need to be committed when it comes to your dog’s physical and mental health.
This may require that you sign your dog for obstacle courses, hire a Dogwalkers, or take runs with your dog on a regular basis.
Your dog will thank you for it!