Training your Dog
With good training you can transform your puppy or adult dog
into a well behaved animal and it doesn't have to be a chore!
Training should be fun for both of you and you can incorporate training exercises into games and play. Keep your training sessions short and sweet and choose a quiet place to train so that there are no distractions. Train him before a meal as he won't want to join in any activities on a full tummy. Be patient and consistent - don't show your frustration if he takes a while to understand what you are trying to teach him. Dogs can sense our emotions and your frustration will only confuse him!
Training check list:
- Training Treats
- Collar or Harness
- Whistle Training Book
Taking your dog to a dog training class can be a good idea as it helps to socialise him with other dogs and other people as well as reinforcing the training he receives at home. You will not be able to take your puppy or dog to a training class until they have had all their vaccinations and you will be asked to show your Vaccination Certificate to enroll him.
Make a list of command words and hand signals that you are going to use to train your dog and ensure that everyone in the family understands the method of training you are using.
Teach your puppy his name. Every time you say his name and he responds to it reward him with praise and a tasty treat or a pat. Once he has learnt his name you can start teaching him command words. Use the same chosen word until he recognises what you want and reacts on command. Remember to tell him "Good Boy" when he gets it right!
Now that he knows his name start adding "Come" to it every time you want him to come to you. You can bend and pat your knees to encourage him to come towards you. Make sure you give him a reward for his correct response.
Tasty treats are a valuable tool when you are teaching your dog to sit. Hold the treat in front of your dog's nose and then raise it above his eyes and you'll find that he'll lift his head and lower his hind quarters as he watches the treat move. Give the command "Sit" as he does so and then reward him with the treat and praise him. When he understands the command you can stop using the treat and just use the movement of your hand. In time you won't have to use your hand as he will have learnt to sit on command.
You can use the same method using a treat to teach your dog the command "Down". Hold a tasty treat in front of his nose and lower it to his feet. He will lower his head and body as he watches the treat. When he lies on the floor give the command "Down" and give him the treat. You can withdraw the use of the treat when he understands the command.
Once your dog has learnt to "Sit" you can start teaching him to "Stay". When he is sitting hold your hand up like a Policeman's stop sign in front of your dog's face. Say "Stay" clearly and firmly. Take a step backwards, pause, and step towards him again. If he has remained in his position reward him. Continue to repeat this process, taking more and more steps backwards away from him. If he gets up and runs towards you say "No", don't reward him and start again. As he begins to understand what you want of him you may be able to walk out of sight and have him stay until you give the "Come" command.
Some dogs are natural retrievers and will quickly learn how to fetch. To teach your dog how to do it start out with one of their favourite toys and put your dog on a lead. Throw the toy a short distance away, say the command "Fetch" and walk with your dog to the toy. Give praise and a tasty treat as a reward when your dog picks up the toy. Take the toy from your dog and say "Release". Continue until your dog understands the command and then try it without the lead. If your dog doesn't pick up the toy or drops the toy on the way back to you withhold the treat and start again.
What sort of collar should I use?
The right collar for your dog depends on their age and size. Puppies normally have soft, flexible collars and you should let him wear it for several periods during the day until he gets used to it. Remember he will be growing fast and his collar will need adjusting and replacing as he grows. A correctly fitting collar should easily allow you to put two fingers between the collar and your dog's neck.
You might find that a harness is better for your puppy as it will not damage his throat if he pulls hard against the lead. Harnesses are also great for small and toy dog breeds such as Pomeranians or Chihauhuas. If you are lead training a large adult dog don't use a harness as it fits where he is most muscular and will make it harder for you to control him. A sturdy collar or head halter would be better in this case. If you have a dog that pulls against the lead a harness is useful as collars allow them to dip their heads and really pull hard. The correct harness will help to reduce their pulling power.
Choke chains should not be used when training your dog. You may need leads of different lengths depending on the activities you will be doing with your dog: traffic leads (18-24") an everyday lead (48") or a training lead (72"). Flexi leads that extend 16 – 28 feet in length are not really suitable for use in dog training but are great for long country walks once your dog is trained.
If your dog jumps up on people you can train him out of this behaviour. Dogs usually jump up to greet us when we come home, so when entering the door if he jumps up at you turn your back on him quickly and ignore his advances.
Dogs bark for lots of reasons: when they see birds or cats, at noises that they hear in neighbouring gardens, when they are lonely and want some company or attention. To stop your dog from barking you can teach him the "Speak" and "Quiet" commands. Start by having someone knock at the door. As your dog starts to bark say "Speak" loudly. Let your dog bark two or three times and then put a tasty treat in front of his nose. When he stops barking to sniff at the treat give him lots of praise and let him eat the treat. Repeat until he starts barking as soon as you say "Speak". To teach him the "Quiet" command start by telling him to "Speak" and then give the command "Quiet" and put a treat in front of his nose. Praise him for being quiet and give him the treat.
Puppies' mouth and play bite each other and will try to use the same treatment on you. This behaviour should be stopped as it can lead to problems if he continues it as an adult dog. When your puppy mouths or bites you say "No" or imitate a puppy's yelp to show him it is unacceptable behaviour.
Choose a spot in the garden for your dog's toilet area. Remember that if you are toilet training a puppy the spot will have to be easy for him to reach as he won't be good at holding it in and can't run fast with his little legs! Puppies need to go to the toilet very often. Generally puppies need to go to the loo immediately after waking, after eating and drinking, when they are excited and after playing. Take your puppy outside to the chosen spot, stay with him and encourage him using a command word such as "Quick". Praise him every time he gets it right!
A crate can be used with toilet training. Dogs have a strong instinct not to foul their bedding and it can be used to your advantage whilst training. Take your puppy outside after eating or drinking to relieve himself. If he doesn't go put him back into his crate for 30mins. Try to remain in the same room as this will cause less stress for your puppy. Try again and keep repeating until he has relieved himself.
Training pads help identify a correct area to for your puppy to relieve himself. These pads are mildly scented to indicate the correct area for your puppy's toilet. Once he has grown used to them you can move them further towards the door and then outside.
Don't expect your puppy to manage holding it in all night as he won't be able to until he is older. Provide training pads for him to relieve himself on during the night hours and don't scold him if he has an accident.
The best way to clean up after little accidents indoors is to use a purpose made stain remover and deodoriser. Using ordinary household disinfectants and cleaners does not get rid of the smell – your dog's nose is hundreds of times more sensitive than that of a human, so just because we can't smell any residue it does not mean that he can't! Any scent left behind will encourage him to go in the same spot again. Most household cleaning products are based on ammonia and your puppy will mistake the smell for the correct area to relieve himself.
What if nothing happens after a few minutes?
If your puppy doesn't want to perform take him back indoors and keep an eye on him. Try again after a short interval. If you see him starting to perform in the house – clap your hands or say "No" loudly. This should startle him so that he stops what he is doing and allow you to take him outside.
What if my puppy relieves himself in the house?
Don't scold your puppy if he relieves himself in the house – or rub his nose in it. This can make him scared of you and he might become confused or frightened over toilet training commands. It will also encourage him to go and hide somewhere to relieve himself making it difficult for you to spot his accidents. Check to see if there are any reasons why he performed in the house: When was he last outside? When did he last eat? Have you changed his diet? Have you cleaned any accident areas with deodoriser?