No matter whether you are training your dog for obedience, tricks or to improve his/her behaviour around people and other animals, understanding their learning process is critical. This article covers basic principles such as reward-based learning and clicker training so you can make informed decisions regarding which techniques will best meet the needs of your specific pup. Furthermore, specific topics like potty training, crate training and leash training are covered here too.
At first, it’s helpful to start training your dog using either a clicker or verbal cue like “yes” or “good.” Use food to associate this marker with food rewards – this will allow your pup to associate the click with something good! You should use clickers or verbal markers with treats so your pup can quickly associate a click + reward = sitting without you asking; eventually this exercise should lead to him sitting and getting rewarded without your asking! Once this pattern becomes automatic for both of you, begin pairing this click + treat = sitting – this can then become associated with cue words/commands such as cue words/commands/comms etc.
Consistency and mood management during training sessions is vital. If you become frustrated or annoyed, your dog will pick up on it and may stop listening; conversely if you remain calm and relaxed during sessions, your dog is more likely to respond positively and work for you!
Always select a quiet environment and turn off your phone if possible to ensure no distractions during training sessions. If there are other family members or pets present in the house, ask them to keep noise levels to an absolute minimum while working on training.
Start out small, short training sessions and build them into longer ones gradually. Most dogs don’t learn in just one training session; multiple ones may be necessary in order to successfully introduce new behaviors. Try training at least once daily to maintain your dog’s attention and motivation levels.
If you want your dog to walk by your side, start by teaching it in an environment with minimal distractions, such as your living room. When they have become comfortable performing this behavior in this setting, gradually introduce busier environments until he/she can perform it reliably across a variety of environments. Once it has become generalized it should prove reliable under most conditions.
To reduce excessive barking, address its source. Dogs bark for many reasons – to alert owners of approaching people or animals; defend their territory from threats; get bored or anxious, or express excitement or boredom. To teach a dog to stop barking, try the “bark and quiet” command: tell it to bark, offer something exciting or rewarding as an incentive for stopping, praise and reward when barking has subsided, etc.