Training a dog takes patience and compassion, but can build a lifelong bond between the owner and the dog. Kindness, consistency and motivational techniques can be used to train a new puppy or even an adult dog some new tricks, or at least some basic good manners and obedience responses, helping both the owner and the dog enjoy their time together.
The first thing almost every dog is taught to do is, sit. Most dogs are appreciative of dog food and treats and this can be a useful training tool to encourage the dog to perform. As with all training, repetition is the key and as the word ‘sit’ is recognised, the treat may occasionally be withdrawn until the dog reacts solely on command.
House training is also important and this must also be taught quite early on and is also a conditioning exercise. Puppies need to relieve themselves at regular intervals but most certainly after feeding, play and rest. Never consider putting newspaper down to encourage the dog to relieve indoors as this prolongs the learning process and is counter- productive. If you catch the puppy having an accident indoors, do not tell him off, clap your hands to interrupt and carry him outside and supervise what he is doing and add the ‘be quick’ command.
One of the most satisfying things to teach a dog is loose lead walking. It’s a pleasure to walk a dog that doesn’t always pull, though for older or stronger dogs a check collar or other device may be helpful during training and afterwards. Position the dog at your side and encourage him to stay there, if necessary – as the lead tightens – use the command ‘heel’ or ‘no’ and position him back by your side. Repetition and consistent use of words is the key, once the dog responds to your words and commands, progress should continue.
It makes sense to teach your dog to come to you when you call him and a good way of doing this is with a whistle. By getting the dog used to the whistle at meal times as he begins to eat, he will soon get conditioned to the fact that it makes sense for him to come to you when he hears the whistle. Try it in the garden first, encouraging him verbally and with a treat when he comes to you, before venturing to try it in larger open spaces.
To aid the training there are various devices available, such as clickers, halter collars, whistles and many others, all of which are designed to make training easier. Although this is basic training there are many other things that can be taught, which are enjoyable for the dog and his owner.