The single best gift for your dog is proper training. How many times have you seen new pet owners adopting a new family member, and never dedicating time to train the pooch, thinking that the dog will learn on their own? Likewise, some other dog owners will opt for training a pooch in their own way, using the “whatever works” method of dog training.
In the entire world, only one species has thrown in with the human race: dogs. They fight in our wars, police our streets, and even live in our houses. But the average dog owner is weighed down by a lot of myths and well intentioned habits brought on by decades of owners misunderstanding their pets.
Put five dog trainers in a room and ask them how to deal with a dog’s behavioral problem and you will likely get five different answers. But this does not mean that four are wrong and one is right. Like most things, there are a variety of ways to approach dog training, and different methods work for different people and different dogs.
And regarding professional trainers, their job is to figure out what will work for you and your dog. The difference between making this decision yourself versus having a professional make it is that the professional dog trainer is reading your dog’s behavior, determining the best course of action based on that specific canine. If you’re training your dog on your own, it is imperative that you understand some training basics in order to choose the most appropriate and most effective training method for your dog. And there are several popular ways to train among many first-time pet parents.
It’s fine that you’re not an expert in dog training, most people who bring a pet into their lives aren’t but you’re going to wind up with the responsibility by default. And a big issue most people screw up is you punish the dog when it does something wrong. Best instead to praise when it does something right. Almost every dog trainer will tell you that positive reinforcement is the best way to train a young canine.
First it’s very likely that a new owner can indeed scare their puppy into doing what they want them to do at first, but the owner will end up creating a world of anxiety and distrust which never works long-term. A dog owner who uses scare tactics on their pet will also decrease dog’s ability to learn new things and increase a dog’s anxiety, cause confusion, induce aggressive responses, and maybe even cause physical injuries. We don’t want that.
On the flip side though, a dog owner can simply shower their puppy with love and affection, and never set rules or boundaries. This, creates its own set of problems, because dogs that live without structure and routine develop behavioral issues. A owner that lets their cute little 15 lb. puppy get away with anything realize later that puppy became an 80 lb. dog so out of control the owners have no idea what to do. Everyone suffers with that and our shelters are filled with these unfortunate canines… through no fault of their own.
But really the larger problem is with the human in the equation because more often than not most dog owners are inconsistent with their training. There we said it, its the owner stupid! Sometimes an owner will use the threat of punishment to get the dog to do what they want, sometimes they reward him, and sometimes they ignore the behavior because they don’t feel like dealing with at that particular time. The problem is that it leads to a dog with no idea what to expect from his owner the one it is trying to please. At any given minute, you could be Treat Guy, Nothing Guy, or the jerk who chokes with a leash. And FYI, you want to be treat guy on this-reward training helps dogs learn, and punishment makes them more likely to misbehave.
And any Pet Gazette reader knows it’s perfectly natural to talk to our dog, cats, fish, reptiles are particular good listeners. Capable of neither judgment nor calling the police, canines are a perfect bathroom wall for the truck stop graffiti of our minds. But keep that stuff to yourself while you’re training them. It only messes with their little doggy brains.
Dogs can come to understand some words, obviously-they know their names, and they can learn what “sit” means. But we tend to wildly overestimate their vocabularies. And using a bunch of new words with your dog while teaching him commands is a surefire way to screw him up. To understand why, try doing long division while a Japanese man shouts in your ear.
Dog training is about reading and understanding your canines and the behaviors they display. There are lots of different ways to train your Fido, many of which will work (at least short-term), but not every method is suited to every dog. Scaring a dog into submission may yield short-term results, but in the long term will cause fear and anxiety in your dog. Continual repetition of poorly chosen techniques will cause psychological damage. Finally, ignoring the problem is also not an option, and will leave you with a constantly misbehaving dog.
When you take on a pet, you’re taking on responsibility to care for and train the animal for your own benefit, and for the benefit of the society you live within. Motivating your dog through positive reinforcement and praise helps build a strong bond, and yields long-term results…or just see our cover again!