Let’s face it – a dog that has been well trained is something we all strive for. A well-trained dog is a safe and more easily controlled dog because they have practiced an appropriate response to everyday commands and everyday environmental situations. The more training a dog receives the better it will be able to handle known and unknown situations that we face. And the better our dogs behave the easier it will be for us to have control over them, especially during stressful events. While there is no overnight trick or magic method for training your dog, there are some helpful tips that can go a long way in giving your dog the tools and the confidence needed to be on its best behavior.
Keep their Daily Schedule the Same
Dogs are creatures of habit and like routine in their daily schedules. A consistent schedule provides a structure for your dog and gives them the confidence they need to get through their day in a positive and happy mood. There are many moving parts to our day, and if you can try to keep your daily routine as consistent as possible, your dog will benefit greatly. Knowing what to expect is the key to a good day, so consider these pointers to help achieve consistency:
- Get up around the same time (weekends can be different)
- Do your morning dog walk around the same time
- Feed your dog breakfast around the same time
- Go to work around the same time (even if you work from home)
- Schedule the dog walker for the same time
- Get home from work around the same time
- Do your early evening dog walk around the same time
- Feed your dog dinner around the same time
- Go to bed around the same time
Of course, every day of your life can’t be Groundhog Day, but routine and structure don’t have to be complicated to implement and they can have such a big impact on your dog’s behavior.
Find the Proper Leash for your Dog
Dog leash innovation has come a long way. In addition to the various traditional neck collars available on the market, newer leash developments include options like body harnesses and gentle leaders. Depending on your dog’s behavior and preferences, you may choose to use any of these leash options to keep your dog happy and reacting properly to commands.
Traditional neck collar options include anything from different fabrics to different levels of training. For example, while some dogs respond well wearing vinyl neck collars, others might need a metal or even pronged collar while going through specific training exercises. Still, other dogs might prefer other neck collar materials such as leather.
Body harnesses are great for dogs who might be more sensitive to collars around their neck. Some dogs also just might respond better to wearing a body harness more so than wearing a neck collar. Body harnesses provide great support around the core of your dog, which can both make them feel more in control during training and make you feel more in control because you are effectively controlling a larger area than just the neck.
A gentle leader is a great training leash for dogs who are more stubborn to train. Gentle leaders are just that – they can lead your dog in the direction you want them to go while not using too much force. No jerking or tugging is required with a gentle leader and you have remarkable control when using this type of leash because it fastens around their snout and behind their head. Many dogs resist this type of leash at first and then quickly learn of its merits as they get more used to wearing it.
Start with the Basic Commands
Dogs are highly intelligent animals and are capable of some pretty amazing things. It’s no wonder experts say that dogs can learn between 150 and 250 words. When training your dog, it’s always best to start with the basics of training commands: sit, stay, down, come, and heel. While these commands are the basic foundation for training your dog, mastering these commands is anything but basic.
Try to set aside one hour per day during your training period to keep the commands fresh and practice often. It’s through repetition that your dog will learn, but try not to overdo it. Remember in college when you needed a study break? Dogs aren’t too different from us in that regard. Work hard with the proper training techniques and make sure not to work on it for too long if your dog is tired or has been training for a long time.
Reinforce Your Commands Often
Reinforcement is the key to training. Even after your initial training period, make sure to keep practicing all of the commands with your dog. You may find yourself using most of the foundation commands on a regular basis which will certainly help to reinforce all of your work. If any of the training commands or situational training that you implement are not used often, make sure to practice those at least once a month. Once your dog has mastered the foundation training, you are ready for the next phase of training, which can include more fun things like “fetch” and “play dead.”
Exercise your Dog Regularly
It’s no secret that a well-exercised dog is more likely to be better behaved than a dog with lots of pent-up energy inside. Not only is exercise important for your dog’s health and well-being, it is also important for their mental state. Just like we humans need exercise to be healthy both physically and mentally, our dogs do, too. In fact, a study in 2018 suggested that dogs’ bodies produce the same endorphins that we do after strenuous exercise, equating to the same “runner’s high” that we experience.
Try to exercise your dog every day and provide at least two days a week of more strenuous activity. There are a variety of ways to make exercising fun for your dog, so pick the ones that are best for them – running, long walks, park play, set up a play date, hiking, swimming, obstacle course, food hide-and-seek, and more.
Even with all of the training we can give them, our dogs are not always perfect. Sometimes they can use a little extra help, and in those cases, seeking advice or training from a professional dog trainer is recommended. And in situations like 4th of July fireworks, thunderstorms, or a bedtime routine gone bad, consider giving your dog a PetSoothe CDB treat to help.