Where do you go to get dog obedience training advice? There are lots of places to try – the library, the web, friends, trainers, etc. Some of the advice is good – some not so good. The only problem is, just like training a child, you find out whether the advice was good or not months or years later. However, there are a few basic rules to follow when training your dog. These are some of the most important.
First, the best investment you can make is in professional training. True, there is a cost involved, but it’s truly a good return on investment. If you’ve never had a dog before, training can involve a learning curve, at times rather steep. If you factor in your time, effort, false-starts and failures, the value of a professional trainer becomes obvious. And, although the first thought of a trainer is for general obedience training, they all have classes on puppy training, aggressive dog training, and off-leash training. Check with your local pet store and community center for obedience training classes in your area.
Second, starting young is solid advice. Puppies are like sponges, and pick up new techniques quickly. You can teach an old dog new tricks, but puppies are easier and more gratifying.
Third, you must be consistent with your training. He needs to know that you, and everyone that he sees regularly, acts the same way in the same circumstance. If it’s not OK to jump on people at the front door, but it’s OK for him to greet you that way when coming home from work – that’s inconsistent.
Fourth, provide immediate feedback. When you reward your dog for doing something right (“attaboy”, “good dog”, patting, treat), it must be immediate – not a minute or two later. He must learn to associate the good behavior with the reward right away. Otherwise he may become confused and wonder if it was the behavior or something else he’s done in the couple minutes since that was the proper behavior.
Fifth, dogs should be trained with positive feedback, not negative feedback. Positive feedback is the treat, the patting, the “good dog”, etc. Negative feedback is yelling, pulling on the leash, striking or hitting, “bad dog”, and the rest. Just as with humans, negative feedback doesn’t work – you end up with a scared and angry dog. Would you rather be told when you did a good job, or constantly pointed out when you mess up? Dogs feel the same way. So, only use positive feedback.
While there are many important things to consider when training your dog, these are five of the most important!