There are a few basic rules that apply in all types of dog training, no matter what kind of system you are using. They also apply to anything you try to teach your dog, whether you’re teaching your dog to come when you call him, to sit, to stop barking, to stop chewing, or anything else. Understanding these basic concepts is critical to achieving rapid results that are long-lasting. The concepts also strengthen the bond between you and your dog–obviously–because this bond is what allows you to trust each other. Trust means good communication, and good communication means good behavior. Good behavior means less stress, and gives you a happy, peaceful, joyous relationship with your dog–which at base is what we all want.
The First Basic Concept–Win Your Dog’s Mind
When your dog knows that you are in charge and trusts that you will love and protect him, you have won your dog’s mind. He will look to you to make all decisions, and will naturally obey. In my last article, I wrote about the 5 Golden Rules for Becoming the Pack Leader:
- Calm in the Face of Danger
- Shepherd of the Flock
- Strong but Silent
- Proud Returning Hunter
- Controller of the Food
By establishing yourself as pack leader, your dog will trust you. If you aren’t putting these 5 Golden Rules in place, then you are setting yourself up to fail; just at the crucial point where you need your dog to listen they will go and do their own thing, because they don’t see you as the leader. Your dog may be obedient 99% of the time, but let you down when you need him to not run into traffic, or get away from another attacking dog. Because of the need for safety, you dog must listen all the time, so winning your dog’s mind–his trust–is crucial.
The Second Basic Concept–Motivate Your Dog
Motivating your dog is very similar to motivating yourself. What will you get for your efforts? With people, we want things like money, fame, success, or happiness–virtual concepts. For dogs, you must discover what it is that your dog wants. Does he enjoy exercise, play, food? This will help you to choose the right motivating reward for your dog. If you can make training experience fun and enjoyable, then you will both achieve more and look forward to training.
Dogs like tangible, pleasurable rewards that they can experience immediately. Examples of instant rewards my dogs like are:
- Food–Anything to make training time special. These treats don’t have to be big–just enough for a taste they love. I soak my dogs’ kibbles, and give them one wet kibble. They love it, and it’s inexpensive!
- Affection–Pats, cuddles, petting, a song using their name in it. I enjoy singing my dog’s favorite song to them, and watching their eyes soften. They also like verbal praise, but it doesn’t always motivate them.
- Toys–Playing tug of war with their favorite toy, throwing a stick or ball to fetch, playing chase.
Remember–your dog is always going to work harder and happier if you are fair and consistent. Even if you use food as a motivator, you should make sure that you him show lots of affection.
If your dog responds best to food rewards, then vary the treats you give your dog, it will keep things interesting. Try to not use only food; try to vary the rewards with affection and games. Don’t let your dog know what the treat is ahead of time, and if your dog doesn’t come first time, don’t give him the treat! He’ll think about how to get that treat, and will work harder to get it!
The Third Basic Concept–Practice
Practice makes perfect! Although you should never expect perfection from your dog, using these three basic training concepts will make training a positive, fun experience, with no need for any negative training. You and your dog will both feel good about yourselves!
Source by Michele Free