Key principles to dog training

Training your dog isn’t about using one particular method or using a specially designed, and possibly expensive, collar/leash arrangement. There are certain things that you should incorporate, no matter which method you use and regardless which collar you prefer – these five key principles for training dogs are:

1) Good Attitude

The most important thing you can do when training is to stay calm and confident. Frustration clouds judgement and may blind you to opportunities to save a bad situation – or to make it worse. When you stay calm in your training sessions, that “energy” will transfer to your dog, and they will be much happier and much more relaxed. And we all want a calm dog, at least some of the time.

One mistake many dog owners make is to use a high-pitched, upbeat voice, which will not help an excited dog to settle down, and will not sooth a nervous dog. Think about how you react to a voice that is high-pitched and excited – kind of like nails on chalkboard, isn’t it? With your dog’s sensitive hearing, imagine what that voice would do to his state of mind.

2) Manage the Environment

Choosing your time and place for training, not waiting until you have a problem and helping your dog to avoid “errors” is key to successful training. For example, don’t wait until you are in the dog park surrounded by dogs to teach your dog to come when called. Don’t wait until you are preparing a fancy dinner for the in-laws to teach your dog to stay out of the kitchen. And don’t wait until the in-laws arrive in their good clothes for dinner to teach your dog to greet company politely.

Another way to manage your dog’s environment so he can win is to put away things that might tempt him into naughtiness until you have time to train him to leave them alone. My last rescue loved my socks, clean or dirty, so I kept them out of her reach when I couldn’t pay attention to what she was doing. When I was getting ready to go to work and had a few spare minutes, we would have a “leave the socks alone” lesson – I left the socks within reach, gently correcting her when she took them and praising her when she left them alone.

The same goes for house-training – don’t wait until there is a puddle, make sure your puppy gets outside within a few minutes of eating and every hour on the hour. This way you get to praise him for doing a good job, and don’t have to scold him for doing what comes natural. It will make bonding with your dog easier too.

3) Consistency

Everyone in the household

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