Understanding Your Dog, A Guide to Successful Training

Problems between dogs and their caregivers arise from a multitude of reasons, most of which can be avoided.  Inconsistent training, expecting too much too soon, harsh or inexperienced handling and negligence are responsible for the majority of ongoing canine behavior problems. 
Understanding your dog’s individual personality will help.

Pet owners who take the time to become knowledgeable about their pet’s needs, and who build a solid foundation of love and trust with their pet, rarely experience significant behavior problems, once training is complete. 

 

Credit: adogslifephoto  www.fotosearch.com 

Credit: adogslifephoto  www.fotosearch.com 

 

Pet owners who fail in these areas, however, are likely to instill fear, confusion, lack of confidence, and even depression in their pet.

A Dog’s Unique Personality

Dogs are a lot like most people. They may goof off now and then, but they invariably try to do their best.  They strive to please their caregivers. A sensitive dog owner will realize this and use it to their advantage.

Sensitive dog owners will also realize that, like people, some dogs catch on more quickly than others; others are slower to learn.  Some dogs are also more easily distracted.  Some are naturally more aggressive, others shy or fearful requiring extra patience and encouragement during training. 
Understanding your dog is vital, for both you and your dog especially when training them.

Guidelines for Successful Training

There are ten important factors to remember if you desire training success.

1.   Patience is critical.  Forcing a puppy or young dog to do more than he is capable of doing, losing control and yelling or striking out at the dog, or ending a training session on a sour note all sabotage training success and build confusion and mistrust in the dog.

2.   Keep training upbeat and fun for your dog.  Training sessions should begin and end with success.  Start out by reviewing a feat or accomplishment your dog already does well. Complete the skill building in the same way, with plenty of praise.

3.    Structure and consistency are necessary.  Regular training sessions are a must.  Sessions should be timed to end while your dog is still enthusiastic and attentive.  They should last about 15 minutes for puppies, 30 – 40 minutes for adult dogs.  Always do the training in distraction free locations.  That means no audience of onlookers for the sake of showing off your skills as a trainer.

4.    Be lavish with praise.  Reward each success with plenty of verbal and physical praise. Not only will this build confidence in your dog, and create a stronger bond between the two of you, but it will make him even more anxious to please you when learning other new feats. 

5.    Never call your dog to you for disciplinary purposes.  This action will only make your dog apprehensive and reluctant to approach the next time you call.  Instead, order him to sit and stay, then approach him.  

6.    Never over-discipline.  Once a dog understands a command but refuses to obey, reasonable physical discipline may be appropriate. Discipline should never be violent or executed in anger; the tone should be calm and controlled manner.

7.    Don’t lock your dog into shame cycles.  When a dog refuses to comply, verbal and physical corrections should be firm, calm and reasonable.  Ongoing verbal reprisals and scolding when a dog bungles an assignment is ineffective and will only serve to strip confidence.  It will discourage your dog and make him dislike training sessions altogether. 

8.    Understand that learned behavior takes time.  Just because a dog learns the sit command on Monday while in his backyard, that does not mean he will be able to carry the lesson over to Friday’s day at the beach.  Dogs do not instinctively apply knowledge learned in one setting to another entirely different scene.   He must be taught how to do that; it takes repetition and patience over a considerable length of time.

9.     Teach commands in steps.  For instance, before a dog can effectively learn the lay down command, which is, in actuality, a three-step command he must first learn the commands sit and down (or lay down).  Break multi-tasked commands into simple steps.

10.    Factor #1 bears repeating.  Patience is critical!            

Patience combined with consistency, love, and praise for accomplishments well done are the most important factors of all when it comes to building trust in your dog, and assuring training success

Credit: ChristinLola www.fotosearch.com

Credit: ChristinLola http://www.fotosearch.com

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