Train Your Dog
Training your dog is an absolute necessity. Just like children, dogs come into the world filled with love and curiosity, but not manners. They need to be taught how to get along in the family. That includes eliminating outside of the house, behaving properly in the house, and being polite to people and other animals. This is a demanding, yet enjoyable job that begins the moment the dog enters your house and your life. Training makes dogs happy. By nature, dogs prefer a society with rules, where everybody knows his place. When you teach dogs the rules of your family, they feel secure knowing exactly what they are and aren’t allowed to do. Dogs will test you from time to time, to see if anything has changed. That’s one reason it’s so important to keep the same rules and the same schedules every day.
You Are the Trainer
You set the stage for the successful training of your dog. Your most important tool is “positive reinforcement”—getting the dog to do what you want with praise and reward. The other two critical tools are patience and firmness (never harshness). You must be confident while training, and you must be consistent. Your goal is to get the dog to respond to your request, delivered once, in a cheerful, business-like voice. It’s up to you to set a positive, happy tone for training.
What to Expect from Your Dog
The amount of patience and firmness you will need often depends on the breed of dog. Investigate the breed you want before you get him. Breeders, veterinarians, trainers and owners can tell you what it’s like to train different breeds. Some breeds learn quickly; others require more time. Some breeds need a strong hand; others require only gentle correcting. With all breeds, being too hard on a dog will only teach him to fear you and others. He can become overly fearful or overly aggressive. On the other hand, if you’re not confident in your authority, the dog may try to take over. Show your dog what to do, but respect him for who he is. Enroll in an obedience class for advice and support in the training process.
Praise and Correction
Praise when right. Correct when wrong. It’s as simple as that. A correction is the word “no,” delivered in a firm voice. Always follow a correction with praise as soon as the mistake has been cleared up. Make a habit of pointing out your dog’s good behavior to him—he wants to please you, so he’ll remember to do it again. When he does something wrong, correct him, show him the right thing to do, then praise him. For example: Puppies must chew, but when they chew on your shoe or hand, correct them; then give them a chew toy and praise. Don’t hold a grudge when the dog misbehaves. He will forget his mistake in a few minutes. If you stay angry he’ll just wonder why you aren’t friends anymore.
Using a CrateCrates are useful for housetraining. A dog should have a cozy place to curl up, but he should not be kept locked in a crate his entire life. For housetraining, however, weeks of restriction can mean a lifetime of trusted freedom in the house. Feed the dog and within a reasonable amount of time take him outside to eliminate. Then put him in the crate with his toys and a blanket until it’s time for him to eliminate again, never more than two hours for a puppy or four hours for an adult dog. Dogs do not like to eliminate in their play and sleep areas. The crate should be large enough for him to stand up and make a full turn, but no so large that he can have an area set aside for eliminating. Once the dog is housetrained, you can leave the crate with its door open. It will be a quiet place for him to relax or take a break.