A canine companion can make a wonderful addition to your family – if it is trained properly that is. What you want to teach your pet, whether to carry out the training yourself or not, and what method to use are all important questions when deciding how you would like to train your dog.
What to Teach Your Dog: Generally speaking, specific commands will vary from owner to owner. There are, however, certain instructions that most every well-behaved pup will understand and obey. These are the common commands of sit, stay, come, lie down, and heel. Some other owners may desire a higher level of obedience from their pet. Examples of more advanced commands are:
- Give: The dog will release any object it is holding in its mouth into its trainer’s hand. This is particularly useful in instructing an animal to give up any object it may be ready to chew.
- Back Up: It is sometimes desirable, such as those times when meeting someone who may be uncomfortable with dogs, for a handler to instruct a dog to take several steps backward.
- Stop (Platz): Regardless of what the dog is doing at any moment the dog will simply stop their activity and lie down until further instructions are given.
- Stand: The dog will simply stand still. This is useful when grooming your pet or taking them to the vet.
- Kennel/Crate: The dog will voluntarily enter their crate or pet home. They will have the freedom to move around within the crate, but they must stay inside.
Whether to Train the Dog Yourself: As with most situations, any consideration pertaining to training your own dog or having a professional do it has pros and cons associated with each choice. Many owners opt to hire a licensed dog trainer because they feel either that they are incapable of training their pet, that a trainer may do a better job, or they lack the time necessary to properly instruct their pet. These are all valid reasons for opting to hire a canine obedience professional.
If you’re leaning toward either option, consider the following:
Pros: Dogs trained by professionals often have a stronger grasp on a wider range of commands. You also can avoid spending the time and possible frustration commonly associated with training animals by non-professionals.
Cons: The pet may gain a stronger bond with the trainer rather than with you. Training can be a fun experience; if you opt not to train your dog yourself, you’ll miss out on the experience.
Common Training Methods: Almost all training methods fall into one of two categories: Positive Reinforcement or Punishment. A combination of the two however, has been proven most effective in yielding the result desired by most pet owners.
Positive Reinforcement is the act of “rewarding” your pet with something that they desire, like a snack or chew toy, in return when they perform a desired behavior. This concretizes in the mind of the animal that the behavior just exhibited is desirable and should be performed again. Properly implemented positive reinforcement can increase the frequency of a specific behavior.
Punishment in general refers to the correction of negative behavior. This can be further divided into two categories: Positive Punishment and Negative Punishment. Positive Punishment, though seemingly counterintuitive is the action usually referred to as just “punishment.” After an undesirable behavior is exhibited, a negative consequence, such as a spanking or jerking of a choke collar is implemented. Negative Punishment on the other hand, is characterized by the removal of some desired object, such as a chew toy, after an undesirable behavior is exhibited. The goal of Punishment, both Positive and Negative, is to decrease the frequency with which an undesired behavior is exhibited.
Training your pet can be a wonderful experience with amazing rewards, regardless of what you teach your dog, whether you do it yourself, and what method you choose. The next step is to choose the right puppy for you and your family?