It’s Train Your Dog Month!

Taking the time to train your dog may seem like common sense for any pet owner–and this is true whether you’ve just adopted a new puppy or have brought a senior dog into the family. Whenever you have a new dog in your life, it’s essential to invest the time and effort to properly train them to be on their best behavior and to be responsive to your commands. Why? Well, of course, there’s the convenience factor. A well-behaved dog is less likely to cause property damage, run away, or even put other animals (or people) in danger. It’s also for the dog’s safety, just as much as those around it. After all, if your dog responds immediately to your call, you can stop it from running out into traffic or from getting close to another dog or creature that could inflict harm on it.

No matter how old your dog is, or whatever background it comes from, there are certain tips and techniques that can make the training process easier on everyone involved. You can certainly take them to a professional trainer or attend classes, and depending on the severity of your dog’s behavioral issues, that may be necessary. But if you are determined to do the majority of training at home or in the back yard (or, eventually, at the local dog park), here are some pointers to keep in mind.

  • Be consistent – When you determine a hand or voice signal to accompany a particular command, don’t switch it up randomly. This will only confuse your dog and make it harder for them to respond the way you want them to. Choose an easy-to-remember signal and use it throughout the training.
  • Be positive – If you are harsh or focus on training via negative stimulation toward your dog, it can make them less likely to listen to you, simply because they’ll come to expect punishment whenever they respond (whether they respond correctly or not). Instead, focus on rewarding their behavior when they perform correctly. Positive reinforcement will be much more effective in the long run, as dogs respond to affection much more readily.
  • Take your time – Training a dog, whether it’s just to sit on command, heel, stay, fetch, or otherwise, takes time. It’s an ongoing process, and sometimes a dog must be trained into certain behaviors at different phases throughout their life as their situation or physical abilities change. Don’t rush proper training, and don’t expect your dog to change overnight. Patience is definitely a virtue in this circumstance.

What are you trying to teach your dog these days? Are they a pup that needs to be house-trained? Do they need to respond to voice commands? Or do you just want to have them heel while on walks so they aren’t tugging on the leash all the time? Let us know what your approach is to effective dog training!

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