Training should be one of the top priorities of every pet owner. Dogs and humans don’t speak the same language and that’s where dog training comes in. It bridges the gap of communication and helps our dogs navigate their way around the human world. This is one of the things I considered when we took Turbo home.
Our training didn’t stop when he learned basic tricks, earned his novice trick title, learned to socialize, or when he became less anxious in different environments. Training happens daily and it’s become a lifestyle for us at home. We train to stimulate Turbo’s mind, boost his confidence, strengthen our relationship, and most especially, have fun in each other’s company.
Just a quick disclaimer: I’m not a professional. I seek advice and help from professionals in the Philippines as well as do extensive research and filter out what can be beneficial for us. These are just some ideas that have helped us and I hope it aids in your dog training as well.
1. Reinforce behavior you like seeing.
Depending on what your dog sees as reinforcement—whether it’s food, toys, play or pets, when introducing a new behavior—provide the appropriate reinforcement. This will help create a positive association to what you are trying to achieve with your dog.
For example, Turbo and I are currently working on crate training. Even if he’s already three years old, it’s still an important skill to train. We started by rewarding him every time he voluntarily goes inside his crate. After a few weeks of crate training, he became very accustomed to his crate and now he’s comfortable enough to sleep there throughout the night and have scheduled crate time during the day.
2. Train daily, consistency is key!
Yes, training should be a part of your daily habit. You don’t necessarily have to train for hours. Training can be done in short increments, depending on what you want to achieve with your pet. Try to allot 10-15 minutes in the morning, and another 10- 15 minutes in the afternoon. Being consistent helps form the habit you are trying to achieve.
3. Communicate clearly
Dogs and humans don’t speak the same language so it is our responsibility to guide and help our dogs determine how best to understand each other. Instead of saying “no” when your dog is doing something it isn’t supposed to, mention the command/cue like “leave it” or “drop” which is more understandable because this is something your dog is familiar with.
4. Strengthen your relationship with your dog.
I can’t stress enough how important it is to have a really good relationship with your dog. There are a bunch of ways to achieve this. You can begin by providing structure to your dog’s daily life, like a schedule to follow so your dog’s aware when his meals will be provided, when he can outside for walks, when it’s time to settle in their crate etc.
Apart from spending time with your dog and creating structure, play has an important role in building a good relationship with your dog. Make time to play with your dog daily through a game of tug, chase and catch, or any other game your dog enjoys doing.
5. Equip yourself with the appropriate tools and seek help when needed.
Dog training can be very complex. It’s a bit of a black hole with a ton of information. Personally, I believe what may work for some, may not necessarily work for you. It’s our responsibility to seek out what best fits our dog and lifestyle. If you find yourself confused with all the information you encounter, don’t hesitate to seek help from professionals.
Find tools that will aid you in your training such as silicone treat pouches, good quality equipment (leashes, collars, harnesses etc.), and high-quality treats to help reinforce good behavior. High quality treats have been easy to come by with the help of Bonapetreat. They offer a wide array of air dried and freeze-dried treats that definitely serve as high value reinforcement to use during training days.
We’re a work in progress and still have a lot to learn when it comes to training, but so far having a trained dog has enabled us to go on many adventures together, meet like-minded humans, and do daily mundane things (like hanging out at dog-friendly places) with ease.