Proper training and socialization are one of your dog’s basic needs, and you should start training your dog the basic commands as soon as possible. Yes, you love your furry companion, but not every moment will be enjoyable without proper training to avoid unwanted behaviors or behave in specific ways.

For the dog training project to be successful, you need to learn methods you can use and which to avoid.

How to Train Your Dog

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With many dog training methods available, it can be overwhelming to select and settle on one. If you are having a hard time choosing a method you are not alone; even there is disagreement among professionals on the best and most ethical method for dog training.

Below are the seven most used dog training methods out there.

Training Your Dog: Positive Reinforcement 

Dog Treats
Dog Treats

Positive reinforcement is a straightforward dog training method where you reward the dog after repeating a good behavior.

The correction is done when the dog does not repeat the good behavior by not giving the reward like a toy or treat. Harsh reprimands or physical punishments aren’t necessary!

Positive reinforcement is the most powerful tool for shaping your dog since it is more likely for dog to repeat the behavior.

Reward the dog immediately for good behavior, usually within seconds, which helps him associate the treat with the good behavior.

Here are some tips that can help you when using positive reinforcement;

a. Timing is Everything 

Treats should be offered immediately after the dog has taken the desired action; otherwise, he will not associate it with the proper action.

Imagine teaching a dog to sit, but you reward the dog after it stands up, then he will think he is being rewarded for standing.

b. Keep it Short 

Dogs don’t understand sentences; however, body language works best, so use gestures to show down or sit before using the word.

Move the treat or toy over the dog’s head so they can sit and view it. When your dog is sitting, you can move him to the down position by lowering the treats to the ground between his front paws.

When the dog has repeated the action several times, you can say ‘down’ or ‘sit’ in a calm voice without repeating it. The cue needs to be short and uncomplicated!

Common verbal cues you can use while using positive reinforcement includes:

  • Give or drop (trade for something in your dog’s mouth with a treat)
  • Leave it (don’t pick up or touch something on the ground)
  • Heel (dog get and stay by your side)
  • Come (to you)
  • Up (stand on all four)
  • Off (get off the furniture, you or someone else)
  • Down (lie down)
  • Stay (lie down without moving)
  • Sit (butt on the ground, with front body elevated)
  • Watch (keep your eyes on me)

c. Consistency is the Key

Always reward the needed behavior and never give treats for bad behavior. Everyone in the dog’s life should use the same cues to avoid confusing the dog; maybe you can write them down and hang them in the refrigerator.

How To Use Positive Reinforcement

positive reinforcement dog training
positive reinforcement dog training

The Good

 Use positive reinforcement to teach your dog cues and also reinforce good behavior. For example, you may have your dog sit before:

  • Letting them outside to avoid door darting,
  • Petting them to avoid jumping on people, and
  • Feeding them to encourage good manners during meal time.

If your dog chews shoes or furniture, reward them with a treat when they chew on toys instead, and also give them a pat when they lie quietly by your feet.    

The Bad

Sometimes we use positive reinforcement to encourage unwanted behavior. If you let your dog, go out, every time he barks, will reinforce barking to let him have yard time.

2. Training Your Dog: Scientific Training 

Learning theory is the science of training animals such as people, cats, dolphins, chickens, dogs, etc.

Learning happens all the time for your dog. For example, when you feed your dog from the table, you teach your dog that he will be rewarded if he hangs around the table.

Dogs learn socializing by meeting as many people as possible from the time there are puppies. Ensure your dog meet as many people as possible when doing all kind of stuff, including jogging or wearing Halloween costumes. If you fail to do this, you will find your dog barking at people wearing oversized sunglasses or straw hats.

The science of teaching dogs keeps evolving. That why, you find booming product lines of canine enrichment, workshops, entertainment toys, puzzles, and shock & choke collars available for modern dog parents.

The main two scientific methods include:

a. Classical Conditioning

These methods include using treats and toys to reward dogs for the desirable behaviors until they are conditioned to think they will get the treat whenever the word is mentioned. Then use actual words like ‘sit’ to replace treats.

b. Operational Conditioning  

If your dog likes staying under your feet, you can step on his paw, which will make him move away. If this is repeated severally, then your dog will learn not to do the bad behavior to avoid being hurt; this is operational conditioning.

3. Training Your Dog: Clicker Trainer 

Clicker trainer relies on operational conditioning theory. It is more like positive reinforcement; the main difference is communicating the exact moment when the dog does what you want. You should follow with a treat immediately.

A clicker or a marker (a small mechanical noisemaker) is a tool that makes positive reinforcement more efficient. Clickers are inexpensive, and you can find them online or in-person in pet stores.

When a marker is continuously associated with a reward, it becomes a conditional reinforcer for telling your dog what to do rather than not what not to do.

Note: You should pause for half a second after clicking before offering a treat.

If your dog doesn’t know any trick yet, you should introduce the training by placing your hand over its nose, and when it sniffs, click and offer the treat. Repeat this step for a while until your dog can connect the treats with the clicker.

4. Training Your Dog: Electronic Training 

Remote training collars range from vibration or beep to a strong electric current, and some view them as inhumane.

Electric training has been around for a long time, mostly used by working-dog trainers to enforce commands. This changed about 20 years ago when trainers embraced softer dog training methods.

Electric training, when used properly, can bring the best results since you can use it to distract your dog during training without hurting it.

The benefit of Electric Training

They help avoid self-rewarding behavior in dogs and can be used over greater distances and with less risk of stress and injury than the choke chain.

Con of Electric Training

Electric remotes can cause stress in your dog that may lead to permanent anxiety issues.

5. Training Your Dog: Mirror Training   

Dogs learn by observation; thus, when kept in a group of other dogs, they can mimic what other fellow canines are doing.

Dogs works in a society, so you can use dog parent to teach their puppies and then reward the good behavior repeated.

If you have a strong bond with your dog, and if he follows you around, then this is a technique that might work for you.

6. Training Your Dog: Alpha Dog

Dogs live in a pack where they work with dominance and submission; dogs should view you as the lead of the pack and submit to you. Some methods to be the pack’s alpha include:

Going first when walking on a leash, leaving or entering rooms and eating, projecting confidence and authority and understanding dog body language and responding accordingly.

If the dog wants to go out, it should sit first; when it is meal time, the dog should wait until you are done preparing the meal.

You should never have the same level of eye contact; never let the dog in the bed or furniture with you; otherwise, they will think you are at the same level in the hierarchy.

Many trainers don’t like this method of dog training since it can leave dogs feeling anxious and not solve the underlying cause of bad behavior.

The leadership in the hierarchy is open the challenge, which may make the method dangerous for the elderly and children.

7. Training Your Dog: Relation-Based Training

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If you have a good relationship with your dog, he will most likely spend most of his time with you, making his training effortless.

Here are some tips you can use when training your dog using this method:

a. Learn Your Dog’s Body Language

As non-verbal, dogs use body language to communicate. The better you understand how your dog reacts to your training, the better the results will be.

You should start a training session only after your dog’s needs are met so that he can concentrate on the training.

b. Keep Sessions Short

Dogs get tired and bored very quickly, so when you are not getting what you want out of your dog, you should end the class. Make the lessons short (10 to 15 minutes) and increase the frequency; this will help him retain what he learns.

c. Break Behavior into Manageable Pieces 

Break the desired routine into small steps, teach the steps separately, and combine them into one behavior when he understands the simple steps.

d. Combine With Treats

Use positive reinforcement to solidify the desired behavior.

e. Manage Distractions 

Choose an environment with minimum distractions when starting up, such as in the house.

Introduce him to places with destructions gradually as he progresses and then take him to places full of distractions when he has understood the cues to test him up.

f. Be Patient 

You will be with your dog for years, so it is worth waiting for a few weeks before you see some tangible results.

g. Be Consistent 

If you want your dog to stay away from the chair, choose ‘off’ as the cue instead of using both ‘off’ and ‘down’.

h. Read a Dog Training Book

Some theory is essential when teaching your dog so that you can customize the training method to fit your dog.

Training Your Dog: Final Thought 

Which method did you like best? Do you have something to add? Please let us know in the comment section.


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