So if you’re looking for tips on how to train your puppy, or older dog, read on..
1. Be consistent
This is key - dogs will take advantage of any inconsistencies in your training. For example, if you’re training your dog not to pull on the lead, but occasionally let them pull, you’re making their behaviour worse.
The basic rule is; if you don’t want your dog to do something, never reward them for doing it. On the other hand, if you want to encourage behaviour then praise every time they do it..
2. Don’t spoil your dog
You can, of course, give them love and treats, but do it on your terms. Don’t give them treats just because they ask for it. Make sure you ask your dog to sit and wait before you give them a treat. Set boundaries and teach manners from the off and you’ll be rewarded with a well-behaved dog..
3. Little and often
Dogs – especially puppies – have a short attention span. Training for 5 minutes a few times a day will be far more beneficial than an hour-long session..
4. Don’t yell or hit
Dogs don’t understand shouting; some love the attention and others cower in fear. Hitting them will destroy the close bond you might otherwise develop - it’s imperative that your dog trusts you. Training sessions should be fun, not stressful..
5. Use short, easy commands
‘Sit’ is a great example – it’s short and not easily confused with other words. You should train your dog to respond to the word after it’s used only once – you shouldn’t have to repeat the command. For example, to start with, only use the word ‘come’ or ‘here’ once your dog is making his way to you. If they don’t come after the first call, don’t repeat the command. Instead, put a lead on them and try again in a different – less distracting – location..
6. Don’t set your dog up to fail
Dogs don’t generalise well. Just because they always respond to ‘sit’ in the kitchen, doesn’t mean they’ll do in the park. To combat this, gradually increase the level of distraction during your training. But only increase the distraction once they respond to the previous level 80% of the time..
7. Use positive, reward-based training
This is proven to be the most effective way to train a dog. If you use it consistently, it can work brilliantly. Rewards can be anything from affection and treats to a game. When your dog does something positive, make sure they know it by rewarding them..
8. Feed and exercise them properly
Diet can affect the way your dog behaves. If you feed your dog a high energy or high protein diet, but don’t exercise them enough, they’re likely to play up due to excess energy. Make sure your dog’s diet and exercise levels are suitable for their breed..
9. Notice changes in behaviour
If your usually well-behaved dog suddenly develops a behaviour problem it could be a sign of illness. Make sure you get them checked out by the vet..
10. Seek help for aggressive dogs
If your dog is aggressive or develops real behaviour problems, get in touch with the Association of Pet Behaviour Counsellors (APBC) who can help.
All counsellors are highly trained – unlike the many unregistered dog behaviourists out there – and most insurance companies will only pay for advice given by this organisation..