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Dog Training

Overtime this is a section of the site I will expand on greatly. For now I offer an informative overview of dog training and why it is important. As a dog owner its your responsibility to train the dog, prevent problems and from it becoming a nuisance to yourself or society in anyway.

Before evening purchasing or bring home your new dog or puppy it is important to be aware of actually training your dog to behave as you would like and in the best way so that he will understand.

It's also important to be aware of what mistakes you might be making in communicating with your new puppy or dog, so that you don’t end up making problems for the future or certain situations worse.

Many of the dogs found in rescue kennels may well be there because they were not correctly trained and the faults or problems were thought to have been the dogs, where in fact it is often the owners misunderstandings of how to deal with certain issues.

Training is an excellent way to better understand your dogs mentality as well build a firm bond with your dog.


Housetraining

Fortunately young puppies need to relieve themselves quite often, so you just need to be ready to make sure you are on the ball in making sure they go outside so you can reward them with heaps of praise and perhaps a nice treat.

Puppies will typically need the toilet on waking up and after eating there meals. Make sure you take them outside and if designated, to a specific spot that you want them to go. When the dog begins to relieve himself use a specific phrase such as “Be Clean” or whatever you choose. This will enable you to use the command later in time when you want the puppy to go to the loo. Choose a command that your not likely to use on other occasions.

Other times you will have to learn to spot when your puppy needs the toilet. Lookout for sniffing and circling and quickly take them outside.

Its worth putting a lot of time and effort in keeping a clean house in the early days so the puppy learns as quickly as possible. If mistakes occur and they do relieve themselves, the in the future, it becomes much more of a difficult task because they will want to go where they have been previously and the smell of the area may stimulate them to go on or near the same spot at a later time.

Basic Obedience Training

Short specific commands are best for your dog to understand. Be firm in your tone of voice. Say it like you mean it. Your not asking your dog nicely to sit, your commanding him.

Use SIT for sit, instead of Sit down.

Use “Down” for making the dog lie flat.

Ideally SIT should mean SIT, until you are told otherwise. If you can master this one command it will prove very useful in a number of other circumstances when you want your dog to do exactly that and SIT in the one place.
Praise your dog immediately the moment they sit. Give them a release command when they are free to get up and walk about.

Recall
If you call your dog and he does not return immediately or for a while, but does return eventually by his own accord do not discipline him. The dog will think he is being disciplined for coming back, hence making it more difficult to get him to come to you in future.

Reward the dog for returning by giving praise. Depending on the level of training and the stage you are at you can vary the reward and praise. For example if the dog returned to you immediately on recall then give a tasty treat with praise. If however he comes a little later, still give praise, but don’t give the tasty treat.

 

Socialising Puppies

If you have a new young puppy it is vitally important you socialise your puppy with other dogs as soon as you are able, innoculations permitting.

These days some dog training centers set up hours just for new puppies to play and socialise and learn how to interact with other dogs. It is also a lot of funny watching the various puppy breeds having a fun playtime.

Leaving the socialisation for just a few weeks can lead to potential problems with how well your dog will get on with other dogs. These problems are generally harder to fix and take longer to sort out once a problem has developed.

I know this from my own experience. When I first took my young Airedale Terrier, Sky, to small group dog training, with just 2 –3 people with the dog trainer, she was terrified on seeing the other dogs. She didn’t know how to interact with them in any way. I’m not sure exactly how long we had left starting the training after her vaccinations were complete, but it was barely more than 2 weeks, if that.

Using the Dogs Name.
Don’t use your dogs name when you are discipling him. Just use the word “NO” or another short word or sound.
When he’s a puppy, its likely you’ll be correcting him for a number of things, so its just hinders them learning there name, is actually there name, and not just a word associated with discipline.

Rewards
Dogs learn by by actions and response, be that a reward for good behaviour or being correctly disciplined for unwanted behaviour. Food is a popular way to reward, but you can also use verbal praise, a game and touch by patting him. Different rewards work better for different dogs or just depending on the circumstance.

Puppy – The first few weeks
The more situations your puppy experiences in the first few weeks of being at home and going out and about with, the better. Let your puppy meet as many people and importantly as many dogs as possible. Maintain control over the meetings, don't allow your puppy to bite fingers, or jump all over people.

Fireworks
Within the first few weeks of bringing my puppy home there were local fireworks displays. I did the best thing possible, grabbed one of her best toys and took her outside for a good game. She never batted an eye at the loud local fireworks and never has since.
If your dog does show signs of being scared of fireworks, the very worst thing you can do is comfort it. All you are doing is re-enforcing there scared state of mind. This can cause huge problems in the future. As we all know fireworks don’t just go off on Bonfire night, November the 5th, they go off for a good couple of weeks in the build up and days after. Also, people tend to have fireworks more often these days at New Year as well as other religious times of year.

It’s not a nice experience to be out on a walk with a dog scared of fireworks when one goes off. Or also, there may be occasions when your not at home wioth your dog while a number of fireworks are going off and your dog is home alone petrified.

Timing
There is no point telling your dog off for something after the event. It is just a waste of time and very confusing to the dog. Even if you drag your dog over to the crime, they have no idea for the reason they are being disciplined.

Timing is everything and you must correct your dog within seconds of him doing something wrong. If it goes longer than that don't waste your time and just confuse your dog.

You may think your dog knows it has done something wrong, just from its body language upon seeing you.
I know in the past I have come home and my dog was being very submissive in her bed, I just knew she had done something wrong. This was because I had mistakenly disciplined her in the past for ripping up things while I was away. She then associates the mess on the floor with being disciplined. She does associate the act of ripping up the items with being disciplined.Hence I should never have disciplined her for it in the first place. The only time I should have disciplined her it was if I caught her in the act.

Other times, dogs will act as if they have done something wrong, simply by your own body language when you discover the wrong doing. Even if you think you are not over-reacting, dogs are very susceptible to even small changes in our body language.

The root of the intial problem I outlined with me coming home to mats or cushions ripped up was not her actual direct destructive behaviours, but actual seperation anxiety, which is another problem altogether.

Shouting
Never shout at your dog, from near or far. In fact verbal communication in general is not the best way to communicate with your dog.

Shouting can make some problems worse and create other problems. My dog started barking at other dogs from the back of my car. I could not discipline her in any way other than verbally so I firmly say NO, to get her to stop. She didn’t. As time went by she was barking at every dog and it was driving me crazy and Id be shouting “NOO”. All I was doing was making her worse. Increase her reason to bark and if anything, without realising it at the time, egging her on to bark more and loudly.

The same situation happened with the postman or with people that came to the door. She would bark and if we were upstairs or not immediately available to get to the door or she was outside at the side gate and therefore not readily available to stop her we would shout for her to stop. Again, we are just making the problem worse for next time.

I’ve since learnt how to deal with these situations correctly and will write about them in the future.

Puppy Feeding Time
From when the puppy is young it’s important to make sure they do not become obsessive over there food or chews/ bones once it has been given to them.

It’s best to wait until your dog is calm before you actually give it to him. If he is excited, make him wait until he is calm.
Once eating take the food away and do not accept any slightly aggressive behaviour. This is not likely in a young puppy which is why it’s a good idea to start the training. Also touch your dogs body while its eating its main meal, to make sure it doesn’t react. This just lets the dog know how its needs to behave while eating. The reason its good to get the dog used to body contact while eating is incase you have children and they touch it while eating.

Once your know your dog is well behaved in this respect I normally try to give it time and space to eat its dinner in peace and request children to leave her alone.

However, if your adult dog has problems around feeding time you should not try the above methods and should seek expert advice. I will add an article on this subject in the future.

Be the Leader of the Pack
In a natural pack of dogs there’s only 1 leader and all the others are followers, albeit in a hierarchy order. However, if you give your dog the wrong signals he will immediately take the roll of pack leader and this can be the cause of a wide range of problems.

All humans within a household need to be above the dog in the order of the pack and this includes the children.

I will develop a whole section on Being a Pack Leader in the future, but for now here are a few tips which you should always follow.

Become Pack Leader Tips
1. Assume the posture and mentality of a leader. Stand upright, keep head up, back and shoulders straight. Be confident. Live in the now and don’t fear possible outcomes on the walk. Don’t be hesitant.
2. Be as Cesar Milan would say, “calm assertive”. Don’t correct your dog in anger. Remain calm.
3. When you leave the house for a walk, never let your dog be first out the door.
4. On the walk don’t let your dog lead the walk. Make sure you walk in front and your dog walks beside or behind you.

There’s a lot more to being a good pack leader but the above tips are a good start.

Training is ongoing.
All dog training is on-going. To train your dog to a good level you will need to do so on a regular basis. Even well trained dogs that stop being trained altogether will become less obedient over time or forget some commands altogether.

 

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Dog Psychology

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