Getting Started with Dog Training

The Resource for Everything About Dogs

Getting Started with Dog Training

by Nick Bulka

Learning to train a dog is usually very straightforward. Most dog training techniques are time-proven, so if someone claims they have a "new" technique, chances are that it's an existing technique that has been slightly modified or adapted for a particular case. And although it is straightforward, that doesn't mean it's easy for a beginner. A novice dog trainer is likely to experience frustration when his pooch doesn't respond as quickly as he likes. But rest assured that if you persevere, you will see results. Without a doubt, most important aspects of training your dog are consistency, repetition, and positive reinforcement. Your dog will be more eager to do what you request if he's doing it to please you, rather than to avoid an unpleasant correction.

When someone new to dog training watches an experienced trainer handle a dog, it may seem that the experienced trainer gets fast results because of some innate talent that they were blessed with. The real truth is that, like most other things, dog training is a learned over time, and it does come easier with experience, as a result of past successes and failures.

An important aspect of training a dog is using the right tone of voice. You should use a tone of authority, but never anger. And volume is not really required to let your dog know who's boss. Canine social behavior depends on the order of dominance, and it's important for your dog to know that you are the dominant one, not him. But remember, you should never attempt to show your dominance by physical punishment. Once your dog realizes that you're the "alpha" member of the "pack", training becomes much easier. On the other hand, if Fido discovers early on that you're a pushover, you're likely doomed to having a dog that does whatever he pleases, and it will be extremely difficult to change his demeanor.

Praise and reward are your key tools when training your dog. As mentioned earlier, you should strive to get to the point where your dog gets a great deal of pleasure from pleasing you. And frankly, it's also a lot more fun for the trainer as well. And although there are dogs that will require negative corrections to learn, this is the exception, rather than the rule. It's also important to spend time with your dog just so you can enjoy each other's company. When a bond develops between human and canine, it's truly a wonderful thing.

Remember also that dogs, like humans, have unique personalities, and what works for one dog may not work for another. You need to be willing to adapt your training techniques to better fit your dog's personality. This is one of the true marks of a successful dog trainer, and only comes with time, dedication, and experience.

It's also necessary to realize that you shouldn't have unrealistic expectations of your dog. Don't expect a young puppy to have the same attention span as an older dog, or to have the ability to retain as much of what they've learned. And also take your dog's physical traits into consideration. It's unlikely that a bulldog will ever become a frisbee champion, or that a miniature poodle will be able to become a bird dog.

Armed with these tips, you should be ready to take Fido out for his first training session. Rest assured that as time progresses, these things will become second nature to you.

Nick Bulka is a pet owner and dog trainer and operates a number of pet-related sites, including Dog Training Instruction and The Pet Guide

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