How To Train Your Dog

Training your dog is a critical step every owner should take, but it can be a daunting task. Well-meaning friends and family may give conflicting advice on dog behaviour and training methods. To help cut through the noise, please read on to find efficient, humane and safe tips on how to train a dog.

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Understanding your dog: Insights from Kimberley Nicolle, Qualified Force-Free Dog Trainer

Learn about ethical and force-free dog training techniques and how to select a qualified dog trainer.

Benefits of Dog Training

Introducing a dog into your family can forge a lasting, loving relationship that only continues to grow in the years to come. And as that connection flourishes, you will quickly realise the benefits of training your dog. Engaging in training with your dog can improve the human-animal bond as well as set your dog up for success in becoming a safe, confident and calm canine citizen in our society.
Training is an essential component of dog safety and wellbeing. It enables us to positively reinforce behaviours that we want our dog to repeat as well as kindly redirect and manage behaviours that we do not want our dog to display. This includes being able to guide our dog through situations where they may need to navigate strangers, children and other animals as well as simply crossing the road and travelling in the car safely.

Dog Training Tips

To help you on your dog training journey, continue reading to find our dog training guide, filled with helpful suggestions to get you started. To search for qualified and accredited dog trainers, click here.

Positive Reinforcement Dog Training

Research shows that using positive reinforcement dog training techniques makes considerable differences in behaviours and outcomes. It revolves around rewarding good behaviour from your dog, rather than punishing any undesirable behaviours. Positive reinforcement helps an owner to avoid using aversive, inhumane and confusing training styles that cause fear and anxiety in their pet, in favour of a more respectful and enjoyable technique, both for the trainer and the dog.

Dog Exercise

It can be hard to know how to exercise a puppy, given their often high energy levels and constant curiosity, but dog training exercises are a key component of helping them rehearse desirable behaviours.
Many dogs benefit from one to two hours of exercise each day to maintain their physical fitness and health. This will vary depending on the individual dog, so when introducing dog training exercises, it is important to start slowly and build up their endurance and capacity for more. Enjoying physical activities like walking, running, hiking and even swimming are great ways to keep your dog physically active and mentally focused, supporting them to present the behaviours you are looking to see.
While physical exercise is crucial, of equal importance is mental stimulation. Providing your dog with sources of enrichment, such as novel items to smell and interactive food toys, will ensure that both their physical and mental needs are met.

Treat and Train

This helpful hint stems from the positive reinforcement method. Whenever your dog exhibits  behaviour you would like them to repeat, you can offer a well-timed treat to reinforce this behaviour and increase the likelihood of your dog repeating it again in the future. The psychology isn’t too complex; by using dog training treats to reinforce our dog’s behaviour, we are paying them for a job well done. Your dog will quickly learn that if they offer a specific behaviour, they are likely to receive something delicious. After a while, it becomes a heavily reinforced behaviour that they enjoy offering.

Dog Training Methods

When deciding where to start, understanding your dog’s behaviour and body language will go a long way to ensuring success. Ethical dog training techniques emphasise the need to be able to read and interpret your dog’s body language to determine their mental state at all times. During all training we want our dog to be comfortable, confident and engaged. This is also important during any form of workout or exercises.

Positive Reinforcement Method

As discussed above, positive reinforcement is an effective means of training your dog or puppy. This method is all about encouragement and rewarding desirable behaviour to increase the likelihood of the behaviour being offered again in future. Working with treats and praise to acknowledge your dog’s successes will help them recognise the contrast of some behaviours earning much-valued attention from you, opposed to the undesirable behaviours, which are ignored and not rewarded with attention.
While not essential to training your dog, clicker training can certainly be an effective aspect of the positive reinforcement method.  With each ‘click’ made by a clicker device, you are marking specific actions to be rewarded, training your dog to perform these behaviours without requiring an immediate treat. The click is a promise that the treat is coming and ensures that you are marking the exact moment the desirable behaviour has occurred. This allows us to be clear on which behaviour we are reinforcing and provides valuable information to your dog.

Scientific Training

Staying up to date with the latest scientific research in the field of behaviour helps us to better understand dog behaviour and cognition. Conditioning methods are employed to create a consistent and communicative training technique to support your dog’s development. For example, desirable behaviours are reinforced, whereas undesirable behaviours are not. Undesirable behaviours are instead redirected and the environment managed to reduce the risk of them happening again in future, thus setting our dog up for success.

Alpha Dog Training Methods

These methods involve the use of compulsion-based training for dogs, or ‘positive punishment’. Methods like these are rooted in the false idea that dogs are pack animals and need an alpha leader to establish boundaries and roles. In this instance, the alpha is the trainer or owner, and must project confidence and control when employing compulsion training. Training in this way is inhumane as well as confusing and scary for your dog. It damages the human-animal bond and ties in with the dominance ‘theory’ which has been thoroughly debunked by modern science.



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