To keep you dog happy, healthy and stimulated, training can work wonders. It also helps you understand your dog better and helps him understand what behaviour is expected of him.
Training can start as early as six weeks old and is perfect to help puppies become house trained, listen to commands and get used to being on a lead. For more information on puppy training, see our Puppy Care section.
• You CAN teach an old dog new tricks. It’s never too late to start reinforcing good behaviour.
• Use positive reinforcement or reward based training. This is when a dog associates good behaviour with getting a reward (praise, treats or a toy), until a point where the reward is not needed.
• Ensure you reward good behaviour straight away to ensure they make the connection.
• Don’t try too much too soon – focus on one command or signal at a time.
• There will always be mistakes in the learning process. Just ignore it and reward when they get the hang of it.
• Never use punishment, such as shouting or smacking. This leads to stress, pain, fear and anxiety, which slows the learning process and may make your dog mistrust humans.
• Be sure to only give healthy treats, or be sure to adjust food at mealtimes to account for all those yummy treat rewards!
These can be hugely effective, fun and give both you and your dog the opportunity to make new friends. Be sure to find a reputable class that only uses reward based training.
Nearly every dog shows behaviour that their owners don’t approve of from time to time. The occasional accident or chewed slipper is one thing, but it is important to identify and investigate what may be causing it.
Problem behaviour in dogs may include aggression towards other dogs or humans, being scared of loud noises, or issues when left alone such as barking or destroying things.
Many problems can be addressed by suitable training and socialising. Socialising means that dogs get used to being around other people and animals and the more they socialise, the more they recognise the appropriate way to behave.
Reward based training can combat many problem behaviours- even a few basic commands will help you tackle challenging situations.
It’s important never to shout, hit or otherwise punish your dog for problem behaviour. It makes the problem worse, causing fear and stress. Your dog is not acting this way on purpose and positive reinforcement has a far greater effect.
Your vet is the best source of help and advice and don’t be scared or embarrassed asking for help. They can rule out any physical causes of problem behaviour and help identify other causes. They will be able to refer you to training classes or behaviour specialists, who can start helping your dog to a safer, calmer, happier future.