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Training Your Best Friend

This is where it all begins... You are about to start one of the most rewarding parts of owning a dog. Training your dog is a fantastic way to bond with them as well as provide them with substantial mental stimulation. Whether you are training them for obedience competitions or just to fetch your slippers, the time spent is worthwhile and satisfying.

Choose a Name Before You Start

To start with, you need to have decided on your dog's name before training begins. Once you have, stick to it so that your dog doesn't get confused when training begins. Dogs are extremely perceptive to sound, and they will always pick up on the tone of your voice. Make sure that you pronounce every command very clearly, and repeat each hand command very precisely to prevent confusion. Rewarding with praise and treats is essential when training. Reward based training will quickly teach your dog how to earn a treat and will begin to respond without hesitation. It is the most effective way of teaching your dog a command, particularly if your dog loves food.

Dog Training Classes

Dog training classes are a great opportunity to socialise your dog with other dogs and people. It can help you to keep on top of training so that your dog doesn’t develop any negative behaviours. It will also help to keep your dog both physically and mentally active on a regular basis. They are a great way for you to get professional advice as to the best and fastest ways to train your dog, and to discuss any queries that you might have about your dog’s behaviour.
If you wish to enter your dog in an obedience competition at some point in his life, professional dog training is a really good idea.

Training a young German Shepherd

Being in Control of Your Dog

It is a great feeling when you have a dog who you know will obey your every command with the utmost obedience. You can be worry free, safe in the knowledge that your dog will always come back to you and do what's asked of him.

Being in control of your dog is very important, otherwise he will begin to control you. Instinctively, your new dog will think of your family as his natural ‘wolfpack’, and he will challenge each member in an attempt to become the leader. By adopting the role of the ‘pack leader’, you will be able to control your dog’s behaviour effectively.
Before you teach your dog commands like ‘sit’, ‘wait’ and ‘heel’, you must discourage any behaviour that is a result of him trying to overrule you. Some behavioural patterns like demanding attention and pushing through doors in front of you may go unnoticed, and although these actions may seem harmless, if they happen routinely then your dog may be climbing up the ranks in your family pack. If he does not see you as the leader, he is unlikely to listen to your commands.
You must treat your dog in a way that allows him to find a comfortable position at the bottom of the family pack. From the minute you bring your new dog home, discourage any signs of aggression towards other animals or people, and teach it not to chew any furniture. This will help to prevent these behaviours from developing into bigger problems in the future.

Rewarding Your Dog

When teaching your dog new things it is important to reward him with lots of verbal praise and a small treat as soon as he responds correctly to a command. If you reward your dog every time he responds correctly he will learn quickly. 
Once he becomes proficient at responding to a command stop rewarding him every time, but remember, if you stop giving him praise for good behaviour he will soon forget what you have taught him. If your dog develops bad behaviors like whining for your attention, make sure that you do not give him any attention until he stops. If you give him the attention that he is trying to get, you will encourage him to continue that behaviour. It is also important to tell all of your family members that you are trying to stop this behaviour so that he is never encouraged to repeat it.

Train Your Dog to Go to the Toilet

The most effective way to train your dog to go to the toilet is to learn it’s routine. Your dog will need to urinate as soon as he wakes up, so immediately take him outside onto the spot that you want him to use and wait there until he relieves himself. He will also need to urinate and defecate shortly after eating. Make sure that you use the same exit each time so that he gets used to where he needs to go. Once he has done his business, congratulate him with a treat and lots of praise. If you keep repeating this process, your dog is likely to stand at the door that you use to go outside whenever he needs to go again.

Teaching a puppy to go to the toilet outside.

Puppies will want to urinate more frequently, usually every hour or two. Take your puppy outside to the same spot each time and give him a treat and lots of praise as soon as he has relieved himself. They may also find it difficult to hold it in to start with, so be prepared for a few little accidents.

Never shout at your dog if he does something wrong, just simply correct the behaviour and reward him when he does it right. He will learn a lot quicker this way. If you use a phrase for each toilet action, for example “be quick’, and repeat it when your dog is doing his business, he will soon begin to associate what he is doing with the sound of these phrases.
Once your dog has learnt what each phrase means, you should be able to use them as commands to prompt him to go when you need him to. This is particularly helpful before a car journey.

A Bullmastiff going to the toilet outside

Teach Your Dog to Sit

Teaching your dog to sit on command is usually where the whole training experience starts and that is because it is easy to teach and a great stepping stone for future commands. 
Dogs are very observant and extremely perceptive to sound and body language. Remember to reward your dog immediately after a correct response with lots of verbal praise and a small treat. Your dog will learn very quickly if the response is rewarded every time. Gradually decrease the number of times you reward him, but never stop entirely otherwise the good behaviour may be forgotten.

Yellow Labrador Retriever Puppy

  • Begin by standing in front of your dog, looking at him and calling the command “Sit”. You will now need to guide your dog into the correct position with the aid of a treat.
  • With one hand, hold a treat about an inch from of your dog’s nose and slowly move it towards the back of his head. If you hold the treat too far from your dog’s nose he might jump up. When he follows the scent of the treat with his nose, he will be forced to sit.
  • As soon as he sits, immediately reward him with the treat and some verbal praise.
  • Encourage your dog to stand up by slowly moving backwards, and then repeat this process until your dog can follow these steps without hesitation.
  • Once your dog has learnt this process, gradually stop using the treat to guide his head back, just use an empty hand. Keep the treat behind your back in the other hand so that you can reward him when he sits.
  • When he is used to following an empty hand begin to use less guidance. Start with your hand further away from your dog’s nose and keep it in the same position. If your dog doesn’t sit at first he may need a little guidance.
  • Repeat this step until your dog will sit in response to the command “Sit” and without having to move your hand at all. Replace any hand movement with the correct hand signal if you prefer to use a hand command over a voice command. Place your hand in front of your dog with your palm facing towards him. Use the hand signal whenever you use the verbal command “Sit” and he will begin to learn to respond correctly to your hand signal alone. Don’t forget to reward your dog with a treat and praise every time he sits until he can do it without hesitating, then you can reward him every few times.

Now that your dog will follow this command, try putting the treat somewhere he can see it but not in your hand. You can place it on the floor, a table or the kitchen worktop.
This will teach your dog to wait for his treat, and will prevent him from becoming reliant on a reward to perform a command. Don’t allow him to take the treat from where you have placed it, simply pick it up and give it him once he sits.

Train Your Dog to Lie Down & Stay

Nothing is more rewarding than teaching your dog new commands and seeing them enjoy the learning process. Teaching your dog to lie and stay can be useful when you need them to stay and be calm for longer periods of time. Reward based training is the best method of teaching your dog a command. Make sure that you reward your dog with a treat and lots of verbal praise immediately after he correctly follows your command. Dogs are very observant of your body language, so always repeat each hand signal in the same way. They are also very perceptive animals, which is why they respond very well to voice commands. Make sure that each command is clear and short to prevent confusing your dog whilst training.

Teaching a Black Labrador to lay down and wait

German Shepherd on command to lay down and stay

  • Make your dog sit before you begin to teach him to lie down.
  • Give your dog the verbal command “Down” and then bring a treat down past his nose towards the floor.
  • As soon as he sits, immediately reward him with the treat and some verbal praise.
  • Keep the treat in your hand on the floor and slowly move it away from your dog’s nose, towards your feet.
  • As he follows the treat with his nose he should fall into the “Down” position. As soon as he lies down, immediately give him the treat and reward him with lots of praise.
  • Stand up and take a step backwards to encourage your dog to get back up, and then repeat this process until your dog becomes comfortable with it. Once he gets good at it put the treat in one hand behind your back. Repeat the process but use your empty hand to guide your dog into the “Down” position. Reward him with the treat as soon as he falls into the correct position.

Watch this video to Teach your Dog how to Fetch and Retrieve!


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