Training your dog the right way is important. Without training your dog to be a good animal or to interact in desirable ways in your household and with other people, you’re setting yourself up for a bad owner-pet relationship. But if you’re like many people, you aren’t confident that you know enough about training your dog in the correct ways. So, what follows are some important behavioral training principles and concepts.
When training your dog, remember that he will carry through with previous learned and reinforced behaviors. In other words, he’s been conditioned to behave in certain ways. Therefore, you have to focus on reinforcing and rewarding desirable behaviors while punishing (in non-abusive ways) bad behaviors. You cannot just let bad behavior slip by. Likewise, if you don’t reward and encourage desirable behaviors, soon enough your dog won’t have many of them.
Remember when you’re training your dog that each and every interaction can be a training session. So, depending on circumstances, with each dog interaction that you have reinforce desired behaviors or punish or discourage bad ones.
When you’re training your dog, realize that she finds your body language and tones of voice much more important than your words. Therefore, do not try to train her primarily through words. Instead, learn to focus on how she responds to various body language signals and tones of voice that you use. The slightest variations in how you attempt to train your dog matter, too. You’ll need to learn how to be very precise in your movements and techniques to get the behavioral results that you desire.
Many people think that positive reinforcement or rewards means giving food treats. But when it comes to training your dog, rewarding and giving positive reinforcement are about much more than that. Speaking in an affectionate tone of voice, petting, snuggling, playing fetch or some other type of fun activity are all ways of rewarding desired behavior. Remember that your notion of “desirable behavior” should usually mean behaviors that your dog finds to be fun or pleasurable.
When you go for a walk with your dog, remember that you’re still training your dog. Don’t let him just run off and do whatever he wants. You are the master; the dog must do what you say. Learn to balance keeping a tight leash (literally and figuratively) with letting your dog walks be times of fun and emotional bonding.
Use the above tips when training your dog. They work for puppies as well as for adult dogs.