Do you have a dog that lunges at other dogs, people, or cars when on walks? Chases squirrels, rabbits, or chipmunks? Never comes when you call him? Barks like mad when the doorbell rings? If not, you have trained your dog well! If so, you’re not alone.
Many people struggle to train their dog – some don’t have the time or know where to begin, while others have behaviorally challenging dogs.
January is Train Your Dog Month, so consider starting the year off with a training program for your dog – help him to become the best he can be!
Training not only helps while you and your dog are out and about – improving social interactions with other people and dogs – but also provides mental stimulation. Dogs that are bored tend to get into trouble by chewing things, like shoes and furniture. Boredom can also lead to obsessive behaviors, such as licking a paw repeatedly in one area.
While you may think it’s too late to train your dog, old dogs can, in fact, learn new tricks!
The best way to train a dog is through positive reinforcement. Positive reinforcement is a training method that rewards the dog for successfully completing the “trick.” The reward can be food or pats with praise (such as “Good boy!”).
Here are some important points to consider when starting a training program with your dog:
- Be positive.
- Start small – introduce a simple task to start with and then perfect it!
- Make sure your dog can succeed at the task.
- Reward and praise!
- Use different reinforcement rewards to maintain the good behavior.
- Avoid punishment.
- Practice – a lot – practice truly does make perfect!
- Don’t get angry if your dog isn’t successful – try a different method or take a break.
- Be patient – change in behavior won’t happen overnight!
If you are finding it difficult to train your dog, consider signing up for an obedience class. This not only creates a weekly commitment for you and your dog, but the opportunity for expert trainers to help you identify and resolve issues. If you aren’t sure where to look, your veterinarian can help you find a reputable trainer. Your dog is worth the time and effort and you will both be happier in the long run!